So. Baby boy’s first birthday was such a fun celebration, but it also marked four, yes FOUR, months in which I had not experienced even a six hour stretch of sleep at night. I first wrote about our sleep troubles here, and they seemed to just get worse and worse. He was such a happy boy during the day, a great eater, curious and playful, super mobile and into everything. But he struggled at night. He was waking three or four times every night, and I’d go in and nurse him back to sleep. Sometimes he’d let me put him back in his crib, but more often than not, I’d end up sleeping with him in our guest room the rest of the night so I could be right there the next time he woke. That’s right, I basically hadn’t even slept in my own bed for four months. It was an exhausting routine, because then I’d have to get up and cook breakfast for the kiddos and myself and then parent all day because even if he napped, sister doesn’t. And getting him down for naps was a long process too, and he never stayed asleep for long. It was hard.
But then. One day, a friend invited me into this closed group on Facebook full of strong mamas and one mom happened to ask the group about sleep training. In the comments, I noticed a woman’s name and Facebook page kept popping up; people were highly complimentary of her services. She’s a sleep consultant. I didn’t even know those existed. By this point, I was SO tired that I decided to talk with her. She offered a free 15 minute consult, and honestly, when we spoke, it took all I had not to break down right there on the phone with this complete stranger. I hung up and cried for a good five minutes. Of course, there was a fee for her services beyond that call, but honestly, the number didn’t even freak me out. I told some friends jokingly that I was ready to sell a kidney if it meant being able to sleep again.
After about one second of consideration, my super amazing husband and I decided to hire this woman to help us. She would get to know us and baby boy (virtually), video conference with us, write us a specific sleep plan exactly for him that revolved around our schedule and his needs, and be available by phone and email for two whole weeks while we sorted this thing out. In our consult, we talked about how I was semi-uncomfortable with the idea of “sleep training”, because my limited understanding of the process included listening to a screaming baby for hours on end and losing my mind. She assured me that her methods were gentle and that she wouldn’t ask me to do anything I was uncomfortable with. Her website boasts 100% success and an average of 5 nights before baby is sleeping through the night. I actually turned to my husband and said, “Oh man, I hope we aren’t the ones to ruin her perfect streak.” We both laughed, but kind of nervously.
I’m not going to get into specifics about our sleep plan, but if you are a parent struggling with infant or toddler sleep and are at your wit’s end, I highly suggest finding a sleep consultant, and Annie Henderson, Child Sleep Solutions is simply amazing. I can’t say enough good things. She’s been patient with me and my bajillion questions and she hasn’t been wrong once. I’m happy to share that within the first two nights, baby boy was putting himself to sleep after about 30 minutes of protest and then if he woke in the night, he was able to put himself back to sleep without intervention. Now, it only takes about 10-15 minutes for him to fall asleep, but it is mostly a quiet and content time of self-soothing. He stays asleep for between 11 and 12 hours at night. THIS IS HUGE. Naps were really hard the first week, as Annie warned they could be, but he’s even managed to work those out and now he’s happily able to put himself to sleep for two naps a day. We are completely blown away.
Some take-aways from our experience:
- It’s okay, and sometimes completely necessary, to ask for help. I could’ve probably researched sleep training and read a book and figured out some plan for us myself, but I was so tired by that point that I just needed someone to tell me exactly what to do. Also, I had to let Daddy help. Listening to a crying baby, especially my crying baby, causes my heart to race and blood pressure to rise. I can feel it happening. But my husband is a rock, you guys. He is steady and strong. My perfect parenting partner. He really deserves most of the credit for getting our sweet boy to sleep.
- Learning a new skill is so hard for babies (and, for the rest of us as well). There is always uncertainty, on the part of the learner and the teacher, and sometimes even protest. We think, the old way wasn’t that bad, right? It (kind of) worked, right? Can we just go back to that?
- But also, babies are fast learners. Our little guy caught on to this sleep thing so much quicker than I ever imagined was possible.
- Babies react to change outwardly in the same way I (and I suspect lots of us) react to change inwardly. There’s lots of crying and stomping around and resistance, at first. But once we learn that the new way is actually better for us, it’s so much easier to glide into the change and learn to love it.
- Consistency is everything. Routine too. Babies and little kids thrive on routine. A good, solid schedule makes everyone feel safe and secure and never wondering what’s going to happen because they already know.
- Sleep is everything. It is so completely restorative. And sleeping in my own bed, next to my dear husband, is something I had totally taken for granted. I am a new person. I have so much patience for four year old sass and back-to-back poopy diapers and cleaning toilets and basically just all the things.
So, just like that, a complete stranger has saved my life and drastically changed things in our home for the better. We have moved from a place of merely surviving to actually thriving in such a short amount of time, and I am so grateful.
Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman. I actually JUST finished this one before I sat down to write this post, and I absolutely loved it. Eleanor is a quirky character, one with some social issues and a traumatic past, but I instantly loved her and her story is one of hope and friendship and redemption. It’s probably my favorite novel of the year so far.
A Million Little Ways by Emily P. Freeman. I’m using this book as a devotional of sorts, reading a chapter a day. She writes about finding our art and how the art within us, whether it be writing or singing or teaching or just living, is a way that we connect with God and also allow others to see Him in us. It’s beautifully written and thought-provoking.
I also finished: Origin by Dan Brown (his BEST yet; I really liked it!), The Coincidence of Coconut Cake by Amy E. Reichert (cute, light chick-lit, a fast read), and Mr. Penumbra’s 24 Hour Bookstore by Robin Sloan (a fun, mysterious, entertaining read).
Currently Loving: Homemade Chapstick. This is the best, most moisturizing chapstick I own, like better than Burt’s Bees. And it’s so easy to make, especially when your sister’s in town and you have a helpful 4 year old!
- 2 Tbsp. coconut oil
- 2 Tbsp. beeswax pellets
- 2 Tbsp. cocoa butter
- 6-8 drops of high quality essential oils (I use either doTERRA or Young Living)
- empty chapstick tubes
- medicine dropper
- Using a double boiler or a mason jar in a pot of water, melt beeswax first, then add cocoa butter and coconut oil until completely melted.
- Remove from heat, stir in oils, use medicine dropper to drop into the empty tubes. You have to do this step quickly because the mixture will harden and be difficult to put into the tubes. We made three batches: a lime/tangerine with a 4/4 drop ratio; a cinnamon/orange with a 2/4 drop ratio; and a cinnamon/peppermint with a 4/4 drop ratio.
Thanks for reading and until next time, peace and love from my household to yours.