There is a reason that sleep deprivation is used as torture. Because it is. Many moms will toast their tenth cup of coffee and insist that being a mom means “you will never sleep again.” A permanent zombie. But, not for me. Emotionally and physically worn out, sure. But so tired I feel sick and impaired? No. I couldn’t accept this. I have many (multiple!) friends whose babies have learned to sleep. They are healthy. Thriving. Functioning. And I knew it was possible. Being a mom means a lot of things, but I refused to believe it meant this. When a small, helpless child is dependent on me for everything, I wanted and needed to be in a better state of mind and body.
Please note: I do not intend to start an argument over the ever controversial topic of sleep training your child. Truly, I really don’t. Nor am I criticizing your choices as a parent. I stand by every parent with their decision and their sleep or lack thereof. If what you are doing works for you and your baby/family, then by all means! Carry on! This is my experience and my opinions.
But if you are like I was, and your health, life, and general well-being took a serious hit post baby, then read on. If what you are doing isn’t working and you are googling ways to get your baby to sleep tonight…then you may want to read on.
Anyways, from the top. Before I even gave birth, I knew I wanted to help my baby learn healthy sleep habits. I truly believed (and still believe) that giving your child the ability and opportunity to sleep the appropriate amounts for their age is crucial! We implemented healthy routines from the beginning. We came out of the NICU on a feeding schedule and carried it forward. We were doing all the things that “they” say you should do. But it wasn’t enough. I was heartbroken because I knew my sweet baby needed more sleep, and for some reason, he wasn’t able to sleep enough or as often as he should. We kept our heads up through the early months. Months 1-4 passed us by in a hazy, sleep deprived blur. And I fully expected that to be the case. But by month 5, I started to question my sanity.
I didn’t expect to have my lack of sleep so violently attack my physical and mental state. After months of trouble shooting (food allergies, cutting dairy, breastfeeding challenges, reflux, etc) I was burnt out. I was sleeping a collective (interrupted) 4 hours a night and still working several days a week. My emotional stability was non-existent. I cried at the drop of a hat. I had constant anxiety. Even when I had the opportunity to sleep, my heart and mind would race and I would wonder when I was going to have to get up again. Would it be an hour? Two hours from now? Would I get to sleep at all tonight? At several points, I even questioned if I was experiencing some kind of postpartum depression or anxiety. But a persistent feeling in my gut told me that I just needed sleep. And not like a lucky 8 hour night here and there. Or someone coming over to “give you a break.” I needed REAL sleep that was a pretty sure thing, on most nights. A baby is a baby, and I love being my baby’s parent. If my baby needs me, I will be there in a flash. But I knew the path we were on wasn’t helping anyone. I needed sleep. The baby needed more sleep! We had to get something figured out.
With the go ahead from my husband and permission (and encouragement!) from my pediatrician, I contacted Valerie with Amazing Little Sleeper. Amazing Little Sleeper is Valerie’s personal sleep consulting mission. And though it is her mission, I soon found out it is also her passion. After browsing her website, I realized I could schedule a free consultation call to see if working with Valerie would be a good fit. At this point, I was desperate.
After my consult with Valerie, I cried. Actual tears. Because I believed her when she said we would make a plan for my son that will work. Valerie asked me what I wanted, and I told her I wanted to be able to feel like “me” again. I wanted to rest well, on the majority of nights. I wanted my baby to be well rested, healthy, and content. In the somewhat near future, I even dreamed of putting the baby to bed and going on a date with my husband. Knowing that he could go to sleep and stay asleep for the evening. I expressed an interest in beginning to attend my fitness classes again. I wanted my 5 month old to nap. If I could count on a nap time, I could better plan and schedule our lives. My hopes seemed so small but very out of reach from where we were at. Valerie assured me my goals were not only possible, but that I should be excited… because in a matter of time, we would be doing them!
A weight was immediately lifted off of my shoulders. I was spending most of everyday trouble shooting, analyzing, and dissecting ways that we could help the baby nap. Sleep longer. Eat better. And I was simply out of ideas. We spent thousands of dollars on chiropractic care, physical therapy, lactation consultations. And not that any of those things were a waste, but they ultimately didn’t help us achieve what we ALL needed: rest.
I’m sharing where we were at so that I can now (5 months later) tell you where we are today. Within a day, my child took two naps that were both over an hour. Prior to that, I could count the amount of times on one hand that had EVER happened. Simply by following Valerie’s expertise in sleep and timing, we were instantly able to achieve success with naps. (* Naps are typically the last thing to come around in children who struggle with sleep, however in our case, this victory pushed us forward to our biggest concern, which was nighttime sleep).
Valerie was able to ask questions to troubleshoot potential areas that need to be addressed or roadblocks in the way of your child’s sleep. What was glaringly obvious for us (and to Valerie) was that my son was overtired. Months of broken sleep and little napping had taken its toll on all of us! As parents, we knew this, but we had no idea how to fix it. And because of Valerie and Amazing Little Sleeper, we were able to implement a plan created JUST for our child. And guess what? It worked. It. Worked.
I’m an honest person so I won’t try to tell you every night has been perfect. Since then, we’ve had six teeth come in, new skills such as crawling and standing disrupting sleep, ear infections, etc. All of the phases and stages that could make your baby wake up. But through it all, we have maintained a nap schedule, a routine (which is my saving grace) and most mornings we are waking up well rested. And the best part? We have a baby who is getting the appropriate amounts of sleep for his age. He is healthy, he is thriving, and he is the happiest little guy – no doubt in part because he is equipped with healthy sleep habits.
Today I am a happier, more confident, parent. I am able to take care of my body through regular exercise, and more importantly, consistent sleep! I slept 11 hours in one night last week because I chose to go to bed shortly after my child. Eleven hours. How many parents with children under the age of one can say that? My husband and I can (when life allows!) put the baby to bed and leave for the evening, knowing our babysitter will not have to fret or wonder how to calm the baby down. I know exactly when my baby needs to nap and I can plan outings, grocery trips, errands and social gatherings around those times. Babies thrive on routine, and to be honest, so do I! As a parent, I don’t have time to guess how each day is going to be different. Our days are, for the most part, dependable. What we choose to do as family may change day-to-day, but the times carved out for sleep remain the same.
Amazing Little Sleeper is the best investment we made for our family this year. Hands down. I tell everyone who asks that it is WORTH it. It is worth getting your life back. Being a parent means you don’t have the life you once did. Gone are the days of staying out all night and waking up in time for a leisurely brunch (well, you can, but there might be repercussions). And that’s okay, because I wouldn’t trade being a mom for anything. But don’t suffer in silence believing that it’s normal to be completely without sleep as your baby grows older. Your baby deserves the gift of sleep – and so do you!
If you’ve hung with me for this long…. thank you. I appreciate you letting me share my experience with Amazing Little Sleeper. Valerie is one of the nicest, respectful and comforting people I have ever met. And because she is so passionate about sleep, she is offering any Sweet & Modern readers $15 off any of her sleep packages! ** Thank you Valerie!
To find out more about Amazing Little Sleeper, check out their website HERE!
To contact Valerie directly/to schedule your free consultation, click here!
To find out more about children and sleep/or helpful tips, check out her blog here !
**Offer good through 3/6/18.