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Emotional Dad Advice
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Hey Slowtwitch Family,


A little bit of background info:


My self and my wife made the jump from the UK to Australia a few years back, and we left all family and friends for the lifestyle and job prospects. In addition, we thought id would also give our future kids a better life.


Fast forward a few years, we have a gorgeous daughter. She was born in May, and we also then decided that we ask her Grandparents (my wifes mum and dad) to fly over to give us a much needed hand as we really needed support.
Yes, we have friends, but they too have lives and would have not been fair on them.


So, naturally, garandparents are the best to help. Both retired, and they get to visit Oz :)


I took a month off from work, so I could help out and build a routine around my wife and daughter. Since going back to work, things have been hard, but manageable. Yes, sleepless nights and working long hours, but its been nice knowing that the grandparents are still here helping and supporting my wife.


But now, they have to fly back. Both myself and my wife sat down, and concluded that its going to be very hard for her being at home on her own. No support for her while i'm at work, and in addition to looking after the baby, working, night feeds, i would also be weaing myself down.


We came to an understanding that in order for a daughter to have a supportive upbringing, that it may be best that my wife also fly's back to the UK at the same time as her grandparents taking our daughter with her. That way, my wife would have the support not only from her mum and dad, but my mum and dad, who are also in the UK, my siblings, her siblings - basically all our family network.


Me however, remain here in Australia, work, and do the only thing I can do to stay connected to my wife and daughter - Skype or Facetime.


I feel so emotional that just thinking about not seeing my daughter makes me want to see her even more than ever and squeeze all the love i have and hug her ever so more. Just her smiles and her laugh makes my day ever single time. She recognises my voice, and her reactions, smiles, laughs say it all.


This isnt a long term plan. We've discussed that I fly over just before Christmas, and we would all fly back together early January.


The advice I seek is and the questions I have are these:
1 - Will my daughter forget who I am, by the reduced contact i will be having with her from August to December?
2 - How does one mentally cope with the emotional impact of seeing a loved one for a what feels an eternity?
3 - To other dads: have you ever been in this position, and what advice can you give me?


Sorry for the long write up. But I really need some advice on how to best cope during this tough period for me.


But ultimately, I do know that this is the best thing for my wife and daughter, and I hope one day they can see me as a super-dad for making such a big emotional sacrifice for the best outcome for everyone.


Thanks in advance


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Re: Emotional Dad Advice [sambadhillon] [ In reply to ]
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Sorry for your situation, I can feel your pain as I read your post.

Here's my personal advice - keep your wife and daughter with you. You're a family now and as tough as it may seem, your daughter will get into a rhythm and you'll all be just fine. It's a daunting proposition for your wife but many, many families have managed in your exact situation with multiple kids (myself included) raising them without family close. You can always hire a part-time nanny to give your wife some time and help around the house. This worked very well for us.

If you can all truly be back together in 6 mos then perhaps your plan will be fine but seems to me there is great risk they won't actually be back at that time.

As for you and your daughter, for the first 6-12 mos she will be focused on her mom. You'll have plenty of time to connect with her as she weens away from mom after a year or so.

Best of Luck.
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Re: Emotional Dad Advice [sambadhillon] [ In reply to ]
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Quote:
1 - Will my daughter forget who I am, by the reduced contact i will be having with her from August to December?

Not in any meaningful way. I was gone more than present for nearly three years, between the ages of 1 and 4 for my oldest boy. He's 8 now, and we're bonded as well as any father and son. Also, she needs mom more than anyone right now. Don't overestimate your importance at this stage.


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2 - How does one mentally cope with the emotional impact of seeing a loved one for a what feels an eternity?

You do what you have to do. That said...


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3 - To other dads: have you ever been in this position, and what advice can you give me?

My advice is to think long and hard about the sensibility of this plan. We're raising out two boys at least three states away from the nearest relative. It's hard. Really hard at times, particularly with both of us working, but we make it work. We rely on friends and neighbors, but not any more than they rely on us. Community is key. If we lived in an isolated area without close neighbors, I'm not sure how we'd get by at times...but we would, because that's what families do.

I was living independently and paying my own way since age 17, so the concept of adult dependence never really registered with me. So naturally, the idea of shipping my wife and new baby to another continent for months at a time so grandparents can help out with one kid is an idea that's hard to wrap my head around.

"Canada is like a lofty apartment over a really great party" Robin Williams
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Re: Emotional Dad Advice [sambadhillon] [ In reply to ]
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Bad idea. Get your wife to join some playgroups. Get her to meet some people. Do not send them halfway across the world.

Hire a nanny. Do something, anything but that. You will be miserable.

How does Danny Hart sit down with balls that big?
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Re: Emotional Dad Advice [sambadhillon] [ In reply to ]
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I feel for your situation and your family. I know you want to do the right thing. Here is my story, which is one experience.

I did't meet my daughter until she was six months old. I was in Iraq doing the military thing. Once I made it back, it was tough for me because she didn't immediately know who I was and want to be with me (as much as a 6 month old can express affection). Fast forward 6 years. I made the worst decision of my life. I accepted unaccompanied orders to Japan for 2 years. The wife and I tried our hardest, but couldn't come up with a solution se thought was better. She was finishing a doctorate and the school was unwilling to pause or extend her available time. I missed 2 solid years of my daughters life, 1st and 2nd grade and every holiday except Christmas and one of her 2 birthdays during that period. She cried a whole lot while I was gone and kept asking Mommy when I was coming back, especially after our regular Facetime chats. Like every week for 2 years. Looking back, I needlessly sacrificed my family life for my career goals. Biggest mistake ever.

Now, I'm a stay-at-home dad. Love every minute of it. Pretty sure my daughter values my time with her (now and in the future) much more than she cares about how much money I could be putting in the bank.

Separating from the family is harder than people think (if you actually care about your family). I know you are talking month, not years, but its still tough. Sounds like there isn't an easy answer presenting itself for you. Hope you are able to find an acceptable compromise that works for your family. Good luck and best wishes for your success, whatever that might look like.
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Re: Emotional Dad Advice [sambadhillon] [ In reply to ]
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I'm a mom and this sounds like a terrible idea to me.

Did I read your story wrong- or have you not even tried this on your own yet? Early on my i laws came to help and as a mom my self esteem dipped. There is something to not having to do it on your own that makes it seem harder than it is.

If you guys are truly worried, why not agree to something like a three month trial on your own then if it's not working you can revisit it. That way you have a chance to figure it out on your own and an out. So it doesn't feel like an eternity to your wife but a manageable period of time. Yet you are not committing to splitting up your family without giving it a good hard go. Or three months on your own then she heads home for a month.

We lived no where near family when our daughter was young but made it work- it is hard! Are there local gyms with childcare that you could join to give your wife a chance to network and have a break? I never did the stay at home mom thing but it seems like loneliness hits lots of women who do.
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Re: Emotional Dad Advice [sambadhillon] [ In reply to ]
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Some thoughts - you, your wife, daughter are beyond fortunate (I'm sure combined with good decisions) your wife gets to stay home.

You and your wife may not recognize it now, but is there any post-partum depression? Approach this without blame and do your best to avoid comments or attitude that brings stigma. This is a pretty common issue, and a few weeks on really low dose meds can make a world of difference. Relatively minor "issues" can be really difficult when also dealing with even "minor" depression.

My opinion is it is best for you to stay together.
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Re: Emotional Dad Advice [Moonrocket] [ In reply to ]
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Thanks everyone for their words.

Moonrocket, to answer your questions:




Did I read your story wrong- or have you not even tried this on your own yet?


We have. What we did was for an entire week, we asked the grandparents to to assist or aid in any activity that we may have called up on them previously. In addition, we asked for them not to cook, clean or do any duties for us that they would otherwise had happily helped with. It was tough. Gave us a real insight on what it is like without any support.



Are there local gyms with childcare that you could join to give your wife a chance to network and have a break?




We have local gyms, but not really any that provide that sort of service. I've actively encouraged my wife to join local community clubs of new mums to give her break. Even taken over with all baby duties on the weekends so she can go out and have a social life. But this, has been done with assistance of grandparents.

Certainly a tough situation, but what i'm hearing from the responses is that it may be more beneficial to tough it out? I'd be more than happy to go down that route, it would men that I see my wife and daughter everyday. However, i wouldnt want to put my wifes physical or mental health in jeopardy.

This is also more so ensuring that my wife has all the support she requires, even if it means that its a small sacrifice on my behalf. I just want to be that supporting husband who will go above and beyond for his family.
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Re: Emotional Dad Advice [sambadhillon] [ In reply to ]
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I can answer question one reasonably well. My parents lived in Qatar for the first 7 years of my sons life, they did visit once a year but otherwise it was weekly Skype calls. He always recognized them at the airport and ran to them when we picked them up, so you can bond over skyp, but it takes work. This is likely more useful as your daughter gets to know her grandparents.

Now I think it is a horrible idea for you to split up the family, you already have had more support than we got and honestly it was hard but very doable, and my wife is not a social person, maybe this helped but I know there are lots of social groups for moms and babies if your wife likes. Our nearest useful relatives were 3 hours away and working so they visited for 2 days when my son was born, we were living in a hotel so they couldn't stay longer plus they were both still working, I had a week off which was good because took possession of our house and moved in when my son was 5 days old. So you see from my story and many above while it seems impossible it is quite common to raise a child without family and friends (we just moved to the city 27 days before he was born). Don't send your wife away until you have tried every other option avalible.

Ben
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Re: Emotional Dad Advice [sambadhillon] [ In reply to ]
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When my first 2 kids were born I was a resident working over 100 hours per week and my wife had a full time job. We managed. I mean this is the most supportive way possible -- man the fuck up, both of you. Do this by yourselves. Literally millions of people have. Do not split up your family. And your family is your wife and child. You'll be fine on your own, and probably not if you separate.
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Re: Emotional Dad Advice [sambadhillon] [ In reply to ]
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sambadhillon wrote:
Certainly a tough situation, but what i'm hearing from the responses is that it may be more beneficial to tough it out? I'd be more than happy to go down that route, it would men that I see my wife and daughter everyday. However, i wouldnt want to put my wifes physical or mental health in jeopardy.

This is also more so ensuring that my wife has all the support she requires, even if it means that its a small sacrifice on my behalf. I just want to be that supporting husband who will go above and beyond for his family.

I'm wondering if your concern about your wife's well being might be translating wrong to her in a hyper hormonal state. Perhaps she sees your concern as a lack of confidence in her ability. Which it sounds like you perhaps do have. (Has she given you a reason to question her ability to mother?). What does she say about the situation?

What if you changed your message from I don't think we can to do this alone to of course we can do it it alone. Millions of people do and so can we. I say this as somewho who took a lot of things wrong when we had a new born. Questioning something becomes skepticism pretty easily in translation.
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Re: Emotional Dad Advice [sambadhillon] [ In reply to ]
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Yeah, I'm with the 'not split up' camp. It's not a great idea.

Like some others my wife and I managed without relatives after a week of the first child, and yes, it was super tough getting into the rhymn. And it sucked for the first six months or so. But I continued to go to work, she built up her network of new mums and tots, and she's still in contact with most of them, and first child followed the other kids from playgroup to kindy to school - it's highly likely this would have never happened if her parents had still been around.

Anyways, fast forward eight years we have four kids now, all of them without help beyond the first week when my wife was recuperating from giving birth. We look back fondly on how easy it was only having to look after one child, and laugh about how hard we thought it was. It wasn't, we were just clueless.

Stick it out. It's probably going to suck, but it'll suck less than you all being separated by half the globe.

On the other hand, ship 'em out, talk occasionally on facetime, and get some big hours done in the office or training ro alleviate the boredom (yes, yes, take that shit to the Tri forum...)

Swim. Overbike. Walk.
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Re: Emotional Dad Advice [Spiridon Louis] [ In reply to ]
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Spiridon Louis wrote:
When my first 2 kids were born I was a resident working over 100 hours per week and my wife had a full time job. We managed. I mean this is the most supportive way possible -- man the fuck up, both of you. Do this by yourselves. Literally millions of people have. Do not split up your family. And your family is your wife and child. You'll be fine on your own, and probably not if you separate.

All of this.

I'm a mom to a 5 year old and an 11 month old. Newborns are really f-ing hard, I get it. I HATE the newborn stage. It's exhausting and all consuming and sometimes really tedious and boring.

You need to figure this out as a couple - together. She needs the social support of other women and moms. Help her find that. Adjust your expectations. Parenthood in general is not a movie montage of picture perfect moments. Get used to eating cereal for dinner.

Say she does head back to the UK for 6 months. It's familiar, she has friends and family and support and it's easy. What will be different when she comes back, other than the baby is older? What if she decides she doesn't want to come back?

This is the life the two of you chose, so make it work. It will be hard, there will be tears, but you will survive the same way millions of other people survive the early years.
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Re: Emotional Dad Advice [sambadhillon] [ In reply to ]
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We moved to Paris with a 2 month old for my wife's job. I spoke French at a tourist level. Our closest relative was my wife's mother in London but neither of us wanted her to visit as she is not very good with babies.

We survived and grew closer. Was it difficult, hell yes! But we left France 2 1/2 years later with one year old twins.

We found an ex-pat support group where we had play dates and we formed a babysitting co-op so that parents could have date nights. Three of the parents we met in Paris are godparents to our twins.

As others have said,don't separate your family.

Has your wife been evaluated for post Parton depression? A lack of confidence in mothering skills can be hormonal.
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Re: Emotional Dad Advice [Spiridon Louis] [ In reply to ]
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Spiridon Louis wrote:
When my first 2 kids were born I was a resident working over 100 hours per week and my wife had a full time job. We managed. I mean this is the most supportive way possible -- man the fuck up, both of you. Do this by yourselves. Literally millions of people have. Do not split up your family. And your family is your wife and child. You'll be fine on your own, and probably not if you separate.


^^^^^^^^^^THIS^^^^^^^^^^

Wag More, Bark Less
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Re: Emotional Dad Advice [edbikebabe] [ In reply to ]
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edbikebabe wrote:
Get used to eating cereal for dinner.

Funny story: yesterday I was talking with a lady who is a doula about her experience with her newborn (we are due in 2 months). She was recalling how one night around 6 weeks old, her and her husband, in their sleep deprived state, just needed to get out of the house and get some take out. So they bundled up baby, headed out in their sweatpants to a local pick up sushi joint. Their baby was a bad sleeper and one thing that really helped was white noise, so, they sat in this empty parking lot of this shitty sushi joint, with the car radio on some station that only received static, eating cold sushi while their newborn finally slept in the back, all the while lamenting their dead, romantic, past life without baby.

OP: I would agree with the others and say: suck it up and stay together. Adapt. I will be in your position soon, and the whole sleep deprivation thing honestly scares the living crap out of me (i own a business that involves frequent use of power tools and working at heights....) I'm not sure how we will manage, but whenever I feel stressed about it, I remember that I know tons of people who are way worse off, and sometimes far less capable, then my wife and I. If they can do, so can we. Best of luck.
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Re: Emotional Dad Advice [Moonrocket] [ In reply to ]
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I certainly don't fear any lack of ability in my wifes mothering abilities. I think she is a brilliant mother, who has done everything correct by all standards, and i'm immensely proud of her everyday. I tell her everyday how brilliant she is , and always support her.

I've not researched anything along the lines of post hormonal states, and perhaps i'm going to take that opportunity and evaluate if there are any other things that she may be afraid of.

In essence, she feels and thinks she would like the support.,as opposed to just HTFU and accept where we are.

I'm certainly in the 'lets try and do it' camp - always have been in work, health, love and life. However, she is swaying in the opinion she would like more support. Being in isolation dosnt help, she has an introvert personality, hence its always hard for her to do if and when i suggest that she socialises with local groups - even if she has never met those people.

Ultimately, like i have said, I will support her in any decision she makes - something that i've done since that day i've met her.

Spiridon Louis wrote:
When my first 2 kids were born I was a resident working over 100 hours per week and my wife had a full time job. We managed. I mean this is the most supportive way possible -- man the fuck up, both of you. Do this by yourselves. Literally millions of people have. Do not split up your family. And your family is your wife and child. You'll be fine on your own, and probably not if you separate.

I agree with the sentiment, but bear in mind that I already am by suggesting that we see it through as an isolated couple away from extended family. Its not so much that I require the support, as I would go above and beyond to ensure stability for my family. But rather its the view of my wife who believes that she would like familiar family for herself.
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Re: Emotional Dad Advice [sambadhillon] [ In reply to ]
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This is a really bad plan. I say this as someone who has two young children and lives 900 miles from my nearest relative, and 3000 miles from the rest of them. (And I'm not that close to the one 900 miles away.) And my oldest was colicky - cried for hours. Every day. For weeks. But it's still not a good plan. You're setting a precedent as an absent Dad. You'll miss out on crucial bonding time, and on figuring out how to build your family.

I think hiring a nanny or au pair is an excellent plan. I don't know your financial circumstances, but even if you go into the red temporarily, it'll be better than your wife and baby leaving. Also, it's worth noting six month old babies are no picnic. And maybe you'll have more kids - what then?

I know from personal experience that it is very hard living away from family when you have young children. You may want to consider moving back home, prospects be damned. But don't send your family away.
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Re: Emotional Dad Advice [sambadhillon] [ In reply to ]
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Ask yourself how parents did this for the last 2000 years. Yes, that's correct they just did it.

_________________________________
I'll be what I am
A solitary man
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Re: Emotional Dad Advice [Spiridon Louis] [ In reply to ]
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Spiridon Louis wrote:
When my first 2 kids were born I was a resident working over 100 hours per week and my wife had a full time job. We managed. I mean this is the most supportive way possible -- man the fuck up, both of you. Do this by yourselves. Literally millions of people have. Do not split up your family. And your family is your wife and child. You'll be fine on your own, and probably not if you separate.
I was thinking pretty much what Spiridon wrote.
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Re: Emotional Dad Advice [sambadhillon] [ In reply to ]
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Don't break up your new family!

My N=1:
We have no family within 2 states of us. When baby #1 was born, my parents were around for about 2 months and my husbands for about a week. It was fantastic!! Help with cleaning, cooking, watching baby so I could shower while husband was at work, someone to talk to all day that didn't eat/sleep/poop/coo/cry 24/7. Then they left, I cried, and cried and cried. We were by ourselves, I had no help during the day any more. Had to start adulting again but with a baby too. Took less than a month and we found our groove. First few days were a bit nuts, but got easier and easier.

I'm a bit of a introvert and don't have many local friends. I'm with my kids all the time. Just had baby #4 in February. My mom came out and stayed with us again for almost 6 weeks. I was pissing my pants when she left. Did not want her to leave. Delivery method and subsequent recovery didn't matter (2 natural deliveries and 2 c-sections). I was so sad when she had to go home. After having #4, as easy a baby as she is, and as good as the other kids are, it was still such a daunting thing to be "alone" with them when my mom left. And it was our 4th rodeo!! We've been very lucky that my folks have been around for a good chunk of time after all 4 were born. But every time they leave, holy shit is it hard! And scary! But I cannot fathom leaving my husband and taking the kid/kids away just so my mom can cook my dinner. Being far from family is hard. But learning how to be a new family is so much more important!!

Something my husband has done which helped me mentally was to either plan a trip for all of us to go see family (his or mine) a few months after all the grandparents leave or arrange for them to come back for a visit to us. It puts a date on when I'd get some help again. Maybe before her parents leave make plans for them to come back or for all of you to go "home" and introduce the baby to the rest of the family. if you haven't found your groove by Christmas, then reevaluate maybe. But you should give it a go on your own! It's hard at times but so rewarding to be together, even when baby is so tiny!!

************************************************************************************
Harry: "I expected the Rocky Mountains to be a little rockier than this."
Loyd: "I was thinking the same thing. That John Denver's full of shit, man."
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Re: Emotional Dad Advice [sambadhillon] [ In reply to ]
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My wife and i moved to the middle east

Whilst there had 2 kids

In 7 years her parents visited twice. Mine visited 4 times a year

I think by your wife flying back you are making a rod for your own back come christmas time

It will cause significant distress all round

I can only tell you it gets better

Once baby is sleeping and on to solids you are good to go

I would never have opted to miss out on first 6 months

Edit to add; having read the other posts i will now say what i wanted to but didnt

Suck it up. People move, have kids, have no support and manage to do it with serious health problems. Being away from your daughter for 6 months because you are tired is nuts
Last edited by: Andrewmc: Jul 14, 17 4:12
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Re: Emotional Dad Advice [Andrewmc] [ In reply to ]
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Andrewmc wrote:
My wife and i moved to the middle east

Whilst there had 2 kids

In 7 years her parents visited twice. Mine visited 4 times a year

And I thought my relatives were bad lol.
My daughter was born in Sacramento. Our families live in metro Detroit. Our closest family was a 6 hour flight away. In the 5 years my daughter lived in CA, my in-laws visited once. My mom came to visit more often as she's retired.
In the almost 5 years we've lived in Mass, 700 miles from our nearest relatives (Sister-in-law in VA, 800 miles from everyone else), FIL has visited twice and MIL once. My mom visits for about a month a year.

OP: to pile on, don't do it. It's a stupid idea. If that's the only way to cope, it would be better to give the baby up for adoption.
Suck it up, they are easy until they start moving.
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Re: Emotional Dad Advice [scorpio516] [ In reply to ]
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Like others have said, raising kids gets easier fast. It's hard at first because you don't know what you're doing so everything is a challenge and there's constant anxeity. But pretty soon you get it figured out and you can knock out all the tasks on autopilot. No big deal.

We have 3 boys. The younger are twins. The older one is only barely a year older so we had 3 kids in diapers. But once I understood how to do the various tasks, it was just some extra work that needed doing, no big deal.

It's all harder on the wife tho. I'm not sure why. It's not just hormonal I don't think. Women are wired differently. Maybe everything infant related might be more dramatic for them, and causes them to burn thru their physical and emotional reserves of strength faster, I dunno. What I do know is that you need to make sure that you're doing more than your share of the tasks. That will allow her to get more sleep and get more "off" time.

Some folks are whiners. They cry and moan about their interrupted sleep schedule as if they're hanging on to their sanity by their fingertips. Don't let them distort your perception of difficulty. Think back to times in your life when you really were sleep deprived, stressed out, and exhausted. Missing some sleep is just no big deal. Caring for an infant is easy. For a guy, anyways.

What is a big deal is training her to sleep thru the night. Let her get the idea that the result of her howls is that her parents come and give her attention, and you're doomed. It's awful hard to lay in bed when an infant is hollering in the next room, but if you give in and go look in on her, it's the road to hell.

Life is way too short to be separated from your wife and kid. That's a complete nogo.

"If only he had used his genius for niceness, instead of Evil." M. Smart
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Re: Emotional Dad Advice [sambadhillon] [ In reply to ]
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What everyone else said, don't do it. It gets easier quickly. Just help out as much as you can. When I had to go back to work, as soon as I got home it was my turn. Told my wife to go take a nap, go for a walk, get a pedicure or whatever she wanted. I cooked dinner, did the dishes and helped clean. Do all the diapers you can. See if you can get the kid on bottles whether she pumps or on formula. Make is a lot easier for her to relax if you can do the feedings. For the support groups, since she is an introvert, find some that meet on the weekend too so you can go with her and meet the new people. I'm not a big church guy but they do have some great Mother's Day out and play groups that are pretty low key.
At least give it a month or so on your own and you'll soon be over the overwhelming stage.
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