Updated: Oct 24, 2020
My introduction to motherhood was probably very similar to a lot of you reading this now.
We may as well start at the very beginning… Our journey to conception wasn’t smooth sailing. We needed to turn to a fertility specialist after years of trying to conceive and failing. Finally, after another year and half of fertility treatment and eventually IVF, we finally fell pregnant with our first.
I went on to have a very uneventful yet enjoyable pregnancy. I spent my days daydreaming of what she would look like and how we would spend our days. I imagined having sweet little cuddles, sitting in her beautifully decorated nursery breastfeeding, then popping her down in the cot for her to drift peacefully off to sleep while I sat and rested, reading a book and having a cup of tea. I know… I can hear you all laughing at my naivety.
Just like my pregnancy, my daughter’s birth was also fairly routine and uneventful. She took us by surprise arriving few days before her due date. I was filled with so many emotions when I finally held her for the first time, but I was surprised that I didn’t feel an immediate bond with her. Don’t get me wrong, I loved her, but it wasn’t what I expected it would be like. I later learned that this is normal and that it can take months to form a bond with your baby, but at the time I did feel a sense of guilt, worrying I didn’t love her as much as I should especially considering everything we went through to conceive.
As the days went by, she became more and more unsettled and she would just cry and cry and cry. Nothing we did seemed to help. I struggled breastfeeding due to surgery I had in my early 20’s. Every time she latched it felt like razor blades and I dreaded each feed. We sought help from a lactation consultant and while we worked on latching positions and boosting my supply we were advised to top up with formula. This helped to a degree, but we were still experiencing hours of crying each day where we just could not settle her. We reached out to friends and doctors who all told us this was “normal”, and it would "get better" once she hit about three months of age. You can imagine my horror, holding my crying 4 week old being told I would just have to put up with this for at least another couple of months. I think it’s safe to say I never got to sit down and relax with a book and a cup of tea. Looking back, it’s obvious that my baby girl had colic and I was never given any tools about how to settle a colicky baby other than to just ride it out.
Fast forward 3 months. My now almost 4 month old was finally starting to cry less and was sleeping better during the day and we were getting 7-8 hour stretches of sleep at night. I was starting to form a bond with her, and I was feeling great, like.. I got this!
That new found confidence didn’t last long. After a few weeks of finally getting some good sleep overnight we were back to waking every couple of hours. I turned to google and online forums for support and discovered that what we were experiencing was the dreaded 4 month sleep regression. It was great that there was a name for it and that I wasn’t alone, yet most of the advice I was seeing was again, to just wait it out, it was a phase and that it will pass. So, that’s what I did. I waited and waited and waited. Each month the overnight wakes would become more frequent to the point where I was up every 45 minutes trying to settle my 8 month old back to sleep by any means possible. Days weren’t any better. It would take me hours to get her take a nap, only to have her sleep for 20 to 40 minutes.
I was at my wits end and had admitted defeat. I was becoming concerned about my daughter's well being and development. Surely if I was exhausted, her poor little body wasn't able to thrive on such little sleep. I began searching for sleep consultants who could come to my house and show me what I was doing wrong. I felt so lost and had such a sense of guilt that I didn’t know how to help my own baby.
I booked a home consultation and a few days later I had a lovely lady come to my house, she was my saving grace. We discussed my concerns and talked about goals. We decided on a settling method and we began straight away. That day my daughter had two of the longest naps she had ever done, both of them in her cot. When the consultant left, she handed me a plan and I was feeling a little more confident knowing that my daughter was actually able sleep better. That night was my first try at settling her on my own using my new technique and routine. I was nervous but determined. My daughter self-settled in less than 30 minutes. I went to bed that night with the plan in mind, knowing what I needed to do when she woke in the middle of the night. To my surprise, I woke up to my alarm the next morning and rushed into my daughter’s room. Surely something was wrong, I hadn’t heard from her all night. But there she was, still sleeping peacefully in her cot.
It took another couple of weeks for everything to fall into place and for me to get used to my new routine, but it was by far the best thing I ever did, and I kicked myself for not reaching out for help sooner. This is where my new obsession started. My life changed dramatically that day and I could finally enjoy my baby, and the world just seemed a much better place. My daughter was also so much happier. I wanted to learn everything I could behind the science of baby sleep and I wanted to help other parents who were struggling. So, I decided to train to be an Infant and Baby Sleep Consultant so I could go out there and help families regain their lives and help their babies get the sleep they need to grow and learn.
Our second was born when my daughter was 13 months old. Yes, we are crazy… but I felt confident knowing that I had a better understanding of what we were getting ourselves in to and that we would get through. Our son’s temperament was completely different to our daughter. He was by no means a perfect baby, but he was a lot calmer and hardly ever cried. And although the basics behind his sleep was the same, I had to approach his routine and settling differently to suit his personality.
We have just recently had our third, another boy, officially joining the three under three club! Even now, things don’t always go to plan. We still hit regressions, the kids still get sick and we travel which can throw their routines out for a few days. But we don’t let it cause us any stress. We know that with any setbacks around their sleep we have the tools to get back on track, so we can live our lives and enjoy our children.
Being a parent is not an easy job. It comes with a lot of challenges, thankfully for us, sleep is not one of them and it makes the world of difference with our ability to tackle each day.
If you are reading this and can see a little of yourself in my story, I want to let you know that you are not alone and there is a light at the end of the tunnel. So many parents suffer in silence because they are led to believe that sleep deprivation is a rite of passage for all parents and that everything will improve on its own when their child grows out of their sleeping issues. But why wait when you can improve not only your child’s sleep, but also your own sleep now?
I am a mother just like you. I know what it feels like. I have been there, and I know things can be better.
Don’t suffer in silence. No matter how big or how small your child’s sleep problem is, reach out, I want to help you. I am always here for a quick chat to start you off in the right direction.
One on one consultations and downloadable sleep guides are all available online x