[Solved] New dad frustration and anger
Hello fellow dads.
I come to this place after a large google search of dad blogs and advice seeking websites.
Little background on me. Late 20s first time dad. Precious little baby girl born 5-23-17.
Now 3 weeks in, I find myself in deep shit. Me and my wife have been trying to navigate through the lack of sleep, stress, worry, anger etc. and we have been doing good, or so I thought....
I need serious and blunt advice. My anger toward my child has become and issue. She won't stop crying at times and it's killing me. Every single dad here knows the point I'm talking about, and if you say you haven't gotten angry, or wanted to hurt your child or thought about it. Then you're a damn liar!
Now I would never hurt my child intentionally but early this morning I feel I stepped over the line. Now my little one is fine as far as I can tell, she's swaddled up and sleeping soundly now that the excitement is over. So here we go...
During her meltdown session my wife woke me up and asked me to try to calm her down. We walked, and bounced, and shooshed, and all the tricks. Diaper change, more food, kisses and snuggles, nothing was working. So I became frustrated. I squeezed my daughter forcefully and out of anger.
To this moment, I'm still shaking. I don't know who was more scared her or me. My little girl! I did that. I have no idea why I didn't just set her down. I was so angry, and so frustrated that in the moment....I lost it.
I am sick to my stomach with regret, and shame. Literally. I've thrown up 2 times.
So I realize I need help, advice, support, something! Please. Fellow dads, I need you. I've never posted online seeking advice and I'm 28 years old. But tonight can not happen again.
I feel like I hurt her, I'm afraid to take my eyes off her, I'm afraid I'm afraid I'm afraid. I guess the first step is admitting I need help. Anyone?
~a very ashamed father
I can't pretend this isn't a big deal, most of us have probably been pushed to this point, but stop at anything that could harm a child....I don't think I have to tell you that shaking/squeezing a very young baby is dangerous. Have you told your wife what happened? If not, I think it's important that you do, so that she can understand that you shouldn't be put in this position again...it's probably not wise to leave you with her when she's in meltdown mode.
I would hope that your wife will support you through this, but I'm sure she will be angry too. I think you need to discuss with her whether you can deal with this between yourselves, or whether you need to involve someone like your Health Visitor or GP.
I do understand the stress you were under, but everyone's priority must be the safety of your child right now. I can tell that you feel incredibly bad about it, I do hope that you can use the fear of what might have happened to prevent you from doing anything like it again.
All the best
While it is not uncommon, no not every has been at this point. I never was when my daughter was this age, but have been there.
First to dispel some dangerous myths. Once you have checked that your daughter is not crying because she is hungry, needs a nappy change or uncomfortable there is nothing wrong with putting your child down somewhere safe and walking away!
Children should come first, however sometimes what is best for the child is to take care of the needs of the parents first. There is little point in trying to comfort a baby when you yourself are stressed out, tired and getting angry because I promise you the child will pick up on it and it will feed her crying.
When my daughter was a baby I would be woken up in the middle of the night by my wife who handed a screaming baby to me and ask me to deal with her as she was tired and stressed out. It is not a good way to be woken up and you are probably not in the best position to help her at that point. I just put my daughter down in her cot, made myself a coffee and did not try to comfort her until I was awake properly and ready to deal with her.
For us, dad and daughter, one of the most effective way of calming her down was to lay her on my chest and to gently sing nursery rhymes to her. Once you start feeling very frustrated or starting to get angry then it is time to put your child down and take a 10 -15 minute break. By this I don't mean put her down and just watching her, walk away and do something else.
Just to repeat Mojo's advice and do speak to your health visitor. They will understand your frustration and fear and may have other advice to offer you.
You obviously know what you did was wrong, and probably had a lot of ideas what type of father you would be, and just to be clear what you did does not make you a bad dad. You are human first and will make mistakes. Had you kept quiet and carried on I may have said you were, but you recognise the problem and seeking help. At the time this can seem to have been happening for ever, but usually lasts at most a few months. What both you and your wife need are coping strategies to get you through this period, and that is what your health visitor is for.
Finally I will repeat, it is better for you both to put your child down and walk away for a short period than allowing things to get to that stage.
In my case my daughter was 9 when things started to go wrong, her autism had not been diagnosed, I did not get help from the doctor and was on medication which my wife told me had changed my behaviour.Today I have a great relationship with her and while she remembers what went on she also remembers what I went through to change myself . I never touched my daughter, but the amount of anger I was feeling had I started to smack her I am not sure if I could have stopped myself. The danger for me was that things had spiralled out of control very quickly and was becoming habitual. I would get angry and frustrated with myself because I could not stop it and this fuelled, in part what was going on. Your beautiful daughter cannot change what she is doing so it is down to you to resolve your issues, and it is as simple as getting the right strategies to cope. As Mojo said that also means being honest with your wife about what happened.
I would definitely see your GP as a matter of urgency, you are stressed, and because of this, becoming more so. There could be a number of different ways you can get help, and your GP is the best starting point.