Wasn’t sure the first time, so we tried it again. Sure enough - a purple plus sign. We were having a baby. After 9 months of “not-not trying,” my dream had come true and I was going to be a MOM.
Not a worrier by nature, and a Sales Director for a company that specializes in infant sleep products, I was feeling confident and well equipped to take on this new journey. You could say I was “that mom” in the birthing classes who just didn’t get what all the fuss was about.
Why were these other MTB so darn worried? Why so many questions? Women had been doing this motherhood thing since the beginning of time. Is it really that hard? My concerns were centered around the big things like balancing my career and marriage with motherhood, making it through a natural childbirth and figuring out this breast feeding thing. Sleep, along with many other topics just didn’t make my list. I had it all figured out—or so I thought.
I was blessed with an easy pregnancy and worked up to my last day. In the wee hours of a chilly February morning, I was awakened by my first real contraction, and within 14 hours my beautiful baby boy was here safe and sound. The first few days were a blur. To this day, I will still say to my husband, “Babe, when we were in the hospital did we…?” After two days we were home and real life began.
“Oh you know...my son just hates me”
As a newborn, my son slept normal stretches. Waking up every 2-3 hours to feed was not a problem for me. Let’s be honest - you are still going off that euphoric high of bringing life into this world. Making this sacrifice was instinctually part of my biological maternal wake-up. But as the weeks and months past, the novelty wore off. The stretches of sleep cycles didn’t get that much longer and every person I spoke to had a baby that slept better than mine. I actually would have a pep talk with myself before seeing other moms: “DO NOT ask how their little one is sleeping. Every baby is different. Don’t do this to yourself.” But sure enough, if it wasn’t asked within the first few minutes of our meeting, I would breakdown and ask the dreaded question, “So, how is she sleeping?” It was inevitable…I would leave our walk in the park or coffee date feeling even more deflated and frustrated than before. It got to the point where I came back with the blanketed response of, “Oh you know...my son just hates me.”
“HELLO – you should know how to manage this”
Fast forward a few months to Hudson’s six-month appointment. My beloved pediatrician asked all the standard questions: Is he trying to crawl? Any food allergies? How is he sleeping? I didn’t think “my son hates me” was really appropriate to share with a medical professional so I explained we were still up 2-4 times a night but working through it. With a sympathetic look in his eye, he lovingly touched Hudson’s chubby Flintstone feet and encouraged me to start looking into sleep-training. He assured me at Hudson’s age and size (he was in the 99.9% for height and weight), he was ready and able to tackle a 7 to 8-hour stretch. I thanked him for the feedback and said I would look into it but the voice in the back of my mind kept saying “HELLO - you should know how to manage this. Get it together.” We left the appointment. Hudson was up 4 times that night.
“YOU WILL NEVER SLEEP AGAIN”
Sleepless weeks following that appointment and then I saw another purple plus sign. Yes, I was pregnant AGAIN. My feelings the second time around did not quite mirror those of the first. While we planned to have a second, we weren’t planning on it being this soon. After the initial rush of questions ran through my mind: “How far along am I?” “Will it be a boy or a girl?” “Could it be twins?” the grey cloud of dread came over me and like a roll of thunder from above I heard the booming voice of reason: “YOU WILL NEVER SLEEP AGAIN”.
Awake at 2:00 AM while rocking my little man back to sleep for the second time, I started to cry. Tears ran down my cheeks as I came to the realization that this would be my life for the next 2-3 years. Sleepless nights, followed by my regular role as a walking zombie during the day. It was daunting, overwhelming and downright depressing. I wanted to be that mom that wasn’t fazed by sleep deprivation, and embraced every middle of the night bonding moment with my growing baby boy. But I wasn’t. I was so envious (and bitter at times) of those moms who had it together and were blessed with the “good sleeping babies.” Why couldn’t I get this right? What was wrong with me?
“I’m Getting My Life Back”
The next morning, I decided to get help. I was determined to get my sleep—and my life back. With my trusty phone in hand, I Googled "Baby Sleep Trainer." I reached out via email at 6:30 AM and by 8:30 AM, I got a call back. She assured me that I was not alone and was encouraging, informative and reassuring that this could be fixed. She asked about his sleep environment and I explained he slept on Nook's Organic Pebble Pure (directly on the Pebble Wrap), free of blankets, pillows or stuffed animals. She then asked how I handled his nightly wake-ups. I told her when he cried, I would always go in, feed and rock him. She then went on to say sleep was dependent on two important factors: the sleep space and willingness to let a baby to learn to sleep on his own. She said the sleep space was perfect (breathable...yes, she said breathable) but I wasn't allowing Hudson to have confidence in his ability to put himself back to sleep. From there, she asked for 96 hours and a 7 PM-7 AM "lock down" (now a joke in our house). She explained the process, babies sleep patterns and the reasoning behind her method. We tackled her plan, followed all instructions AND IT WORKED! The first couple nights we had an hour or so of whining/crying/yelling but by night 3 we had a little man that slept from 7pm-6am. He is now content to hang in his crib in the morning and have a little "alone time" before we all start the day. AND...he takes two 2-hours naps every day. You can't ask for much more than that!
“I did it! I asked for help.”
I did it! I asked for help. I accepted that I didn’t have all the answers, and that was okay. And you know what? It didn’t make me less of a mom, it made me human. Sleep training may not be for everyone, but asking for help should be!
The road of motherhood is one crazy journey, and last time I checked it doesn’t come with a road map or a user guide. It is important that we as moms do not focus on having all the answers but hone in on finding the solutions. Just weeks away from having my baby girl, I am approaching round 2 with an open heart and open mind. Excited to see not what I know, but what I will learn as a mom and woman this time around.