Sleeping like a baby....yeh right?
Why is it when you are pregnant that there are so many classes on how to cope with childbirth yet absolutely nothing covers how to cope with and manage sleep deprivation? I’ve often caught myself saying “Nothing prepares you for the sleep deprivation” although looking back if there was a class that equipped me with all the tools I needed to get through the 9 months of resembling a “sleepless wreck” then I would have snapped it up. I think the problem is as an expectant parent, I had no idea what the sleep deprivation would be like and stupidly I thought because I had dealt with insomnia that I would be fine.
Our little Sleep Thief, Oliver greeted us 5 weeks earlier than expected, and although a healthy premature baby, he had his hurdles to overcome as most premmies do. After spending a week in hospital, our first night at home wasn’t what I envisaged, Oliver spent the whole night crying and screaming. My husband Jonno and I felt completely helpless and after three days of Oliver being in what felt like constant distress, we were both tearful and had no idea how to help him settle.
Oliver’s first few months were tricky, we experienced tongue tie, reflux, breastfeeding struggles, bowel problems, and allergies. It is safe to say that these all contributed to his inability to sleep day and night, the night “shifts” felt impossible and with Oliver not napping for any longer than 30 minutes from newborn age, we really did not get a chance to recuperate. At the time I think we were telling ourselves this was normal, as this was our first child and we had nothing to compare Oliver to. We were just waiting for Oliver to one day just start sleeping!
Eight months on and other than 1 or 2 nights, he was not sleeping through and still not napping for longer than 30 minutes, in fact this was now decreasing to 20 minutes. As I sit here and look back, it makes me feel a little teary remembering what state I was in. I was at the lowest point I had ever been in my life, I was on brink of having an M.E. relapse, I needed an inhaler to breathe at night due to a horrible virus I couldn’t shift for 8 weeks, I just felt like I had nothing left to give and like I was carrying my corpse around all day (and night!). Sadly, Jonno and I were drifting apart, we never had any time together and would often argue due to extreme tiredness and both feeling emotional. I had crashed my car twice, which cost over £1500 to fix. It was at this point that, I decided enough was enough, we needed to get expert help!
The rest you can say is history! Within just 2 weeks of working with a Sleep Consultant, Oliver was sleeping through the night and his nap lengths were starting to increase. Oliver now sleeps through 99% of the time, and naps for 2-3 hours a day. Sleep Coaching Oliver was not easy, but it was so much easier than trying to cope with little sleep for all of us.
The difference Sleep Coaching has made to our lives is hard to pin point and write about on paper. It’s like I have gone from a wilting flower to a bright yellow sunflower. I now wake up and I am excited about the day ahead and I feel so much closer to Oliver and no longer resent him. Jonno and I enjoy time together and love going out on date nights, because we can now leave Oliver with family members as he actually sleeps. We have even left him overnight now, as before there is no way we would feel comfortable leaving him with our parents as they would have to be up through the night. I can now focus on my work feeling refreshed and know that I am working to my full potential.
It is my personal journey that has really driven me to want to help other parents to experience this transformation. So the first thing I did was to enrol on a degree level Sleep Coaching course and now I am working with a handful of clients who are seeing significant improvements already in their family’s sleep. I absolutely love that I am helping other sleep deprived parents to make such a positive change in their lives. I heard from one of my clients just last week, who said that their daughter has gone from waking every 2-3 hours to sleeping a block of 7.5 hours a night, all just in one week. This just makes me so chuffed for them!
The only regret I have with Oliver’s sleep coaching is I wished we did it 3 months earlier. I think as a parent, especially a mum you sometimes feel like you are failing by admitting that you need help. Especially when you ask your friends who also have babies, and they tell you that a lack of sleep is normal. I think my biggest tip is, if you are struggling with your own sleep challenges right now, decide for yourself if you feel it is normal and if your sleep challenges are starting to cause other troubles in your life, then what do you have to lose by getting expert advice so you can get your family’s life back on track.
For free tips on how to help your child sleep through night, feel free to download my Free E-Book “Six Core Steps to Sleep Success”.