Looking back, I can’t actually remember what my expectations were before my daughter was born more than 6 years ago. I do however remember getting the sideway glance/chuckle (you know the one) along with an ‘Oh, get your sleep in now’, or a ‘Hah! Say goodbye to your sleep for the next 18 years’, from well-meaning friends and strangers. I was thrilled to be pregnant and did not realize there would be nights I wouldn’t be able to soothe my baby (a terrible feeling), that I would be so tired that I would lay there in tears, or that I would turn into a 24/7 dairy cow (don’t get me wrong, I loved nursing…. but allll night?).
Regardless, my daughter felt like an ‘easy’ baby. She was quiet as a kitten when she cried, and though she would at times cry for several hours, it was not unmanageable. Because she was so small, I carried her wherever I went. Not surprisingly, when I put her down, my ‘easy’ baby became less easy. Her crib stood, unused, in our room for months until we moved and packed it away entirely.
The years passed and when she was on the brink of her 4th birthday, I was pregnant with my second child. By this point, she had transitioned to a mattress on the floor of our room, but I still had to lay with her until she fell asleep at 9 or 10pm. I would then peel myself off the floor to complete whatever mom-chores were left to do. It was this experience that started it all. The thought of doing this – times two – for years, was unfathomable. So, we used whatever tactics we could come up with and (likely by fluke!) transitioned her to her own bed, in her own room on her 4th birthday. It still took several months for her to completely settle in, but it was an incredible win for her and for us.
I knew when my son was born that I was going to do things differently. He enjoyed being put down and as such, I had him in a bassinet from day 1. However, although he slept short stints in his bassinet, by 6 months he was still up every 1 hour or so, and the sleep deprivation was getting to me. The internet provided too much conflicting information and my tired mind was never able to decipher a path to put into practice. When I was gifted a sleep-training book by my sister-in-law, I felt like I had nothing else to lose. I followed its suggestions regarding sleep scheduling and naps as well as techniques to teach my son to fall asleep and back to sleep on his own. I thought something was wrong when I woke up from the first 5.5 hour stretch of sleep that I’d had in months. Things only got better from there and within a few weeks, a predictable schedule emerged, and my life was changed. With more sleep came more energy and I became a more patient, happy individual mom and partner.
Several years later I still have the same wonderful children… but they both sleep on a schedule and through the night. It is said that you need a ‘why’ to be passionate about what you do. My passion comes from knowing what it feels like to be on the other side, and now, with my certification through the Family Sleep Institute, I can help families eliminate the guesswork and pass on the gift of sleep:)