"Don't worry honey, newborns sleep for 17 hours a day- we'll have plenty of spare time." The words of a naive first time expectant mother.
The day our daughter was born was the happiest of our lives- as it is for everyone when they meet their child for the first time. I thought we had it all figured out, it was gonna be a piece of cake- after all, as the books say, they sleep most of the time anyway! Right?!
Well....little did we know what life had in store for us...! We were in for a rocky ride.
Those first few months now feel like a complete and utter blur. All I remember is hours upon hours of crying for, at the time, a completely unknown reason. Was it colic? Maybe she had silent reflux? Could she have cow's milk intolerance? Hubby and I are both medical so obviously we jump to medical causes first and foremost!
It wasn't until our little madam was about 2-3 months old that it finally hit us! We had always wondered why she just never slept! Maybe she was just a baby that didn't NEED to sleep. After all, we knew next to nothing about newborn sleep. It hadn't been covered in the antenatal classes we attended, other mums had never really talked about it. I assumed babies just fell asleep when they were ready. I had no idea sleep consultants even existed in this world!!
Yes...I was extremely naive and completely clueless. I'm sure the majority of you reading this blog knew a little or a lot more than I did at the time. But I feel as though no-one really prepares you for this part of the journey, and it is definitely a major part- you just don't know it until it affects you.
Turns out we had got ourselves a SUPER ALERT baby who just had a really hard time switching off and falling asleep. It wasn't that she didn't NEED the sleep, she just didn't know HOW. And that's where she needed our help. And that's where the bad habits started- so whatever you've done to get your child to sleep ie the sleep crutches, I've used them all too- rocking, bouncing, swaying, dummy, singing, car rides etc etc the list feels endless... but we did what we felt we needed to in order to survive- and I'm sure that's how a lot of you feel!
One of my lowest memories is having to bounce her on the bed for up to half an hour till I was literally sweating, and then hold her in a blacked out room for every one of her naps ie for several hours a day, with nothing but my phone for company. It was a lonely time, but it was the only way she would be an otherwise relatively happy baby, and that was what I wanted above anything else.
I also remember struggling to attend baby classes. I was SO desperate to get out of the house and meet other mums, but if the class didn't fall bang in between her naps, there was just no chance! Otherwise I would have an absolutely hysterical baby in the back of the car all the way home as she would be soo overtired from all the stimulation. I used to let her sleep on me for a minimum of 2 hours pre-class so that we'd have the best possible chance of getting through it without a meltdown. It ended up being more stressful than anything else!
When she was about three months of age, I finally decided enough was enough- something needed to change. I felt like a zombie walking around in a trance. I was willing to do anything, LITERALLY ANYTHING. So of course we summoned Dr Google and discovered these angels of hope known as sleep consultants! I immediately booked the most expensive package I could find out of pure desperation....and although my little one was too young to be sleep trained at the time, we made a significant leap in the right direction within a short space of time.
This was when I started my incessant googling and researching on baby sleep, and within days I felt like an expert! This is what encouraged me to pursue a career in sleep consulting- I had ample personal experience which I felt would be invaluable when speaking to parents facing similar challenges.
So that's a little bit about me and my experience as a first time mum with a tricky sleeper. I'm expecting another little girl in a couple of months and I'm already giving her regular tips on good sleep- so here's to hoping she's an expert sleeper by the time she enters this world ha!
I would love to hear about your first time mum challenges, if only just to make me feel better about my total lack of sleep knowledge!! So drop me a comment! And if you enjoyed the content of this blog, follow my instagram/ facebook pages (links above!) for regular sleep tips and Q&As ;). Also watch this space for more blog entries full of wise words and more personal experiences....
If you're struggling with your little one's sleep and would like to know more about how I could help, just click the "book a free call" button above- no pressure and no strings attached, just a 15 minute chat about you and your child! If and only if you would like to, we can think about working together to get the best sleep possible for your whole family!