Lucy, Rachel and Tom’s Story
Just after the clock ticked over, on the first of January our little baby Lucy came into the world. She was a beautiful and determined little spirit, our first baby. We were enamoured by her and spent our early weeks in a sleep-deprived happy baby love bubble.
Like most new parents, we had heard the stories of those sleep-deprived early weeks. “Oh, it’s so hard! You just walk around in a daze. It’s a major achievement if you manage a shower each day”. And so it was. We happily muddled our way through revelling in the minutia of our baby’s development in the way that only parents can.
Sleep Deprivation wears you down
However, the sleep deprivation does wear you down. Those of you with challenging babies know this. This wearing down was a slow process: Lucy initially woke every two hours for a feed. Tom and I told ourselves that “it all gets better after week six”. And so we kept trudging along. I tried to bear the brunt of the wakeups, as Tom had to go to work each day.
Week six came and went and Lucy still woke up a lot. I mean A. Lot. In fact, it seemed she was getting worse as she was waking up during the night, and then she slept less and less during the day. Her periods of sleep during the day were traded in for crying. Looots of crying. I was visiting the Early Childhood Centre constantly for help, aware of the risk of postnatal depression in new mums. I developed a kind of RSI in my elbows from pushing the pram back and forth.
People kept promising
People kept promising things got better after certain milestones however these milestones came and went and Lucy still cried and cried and didn’t sleep. Six weeks, two months, three months, four months. Crying crying crying. They started to investigate medical reasons. We were sent off to sleep school and we were told she was very unsettled. I recall one particularly harrowing day at the sleep school trying to put Lucy to sleep with her screaming for two and a half hours and begging the nurses “could we just stop” because I was so exhausted and I needed to eat and have some water.
Another thing we noticed was that we were getting diminishing returns for the effort we were spending getting her to sleep. We would get a tidbit of advice from one of the many professionals we visited, like “you should just use a dummy”, or “sing her to sleep”. These tricks would work for a little while, but their effectiveness would eventually wear off, and then she would want all that, and more!
I became frustrated with the advice from others whose babies apparently slept badly (i.e. waking every two hours). To us, two hours sounded like bliss! Lucy was waking every sleep cycle and had to be fed back to sleep because nothing else worked. She slept on top of me while I went through the nightly torture of lying in a dark room trying not to move.
I also began to wonder why no one told you how awful parenting was: People told me “this will pass” but I have to say, that advice is only helpful when it is delivered after the storm has passed. It doesn’t help you when you’re losing the plot from sleep deprivation. I was a soppy neurotic sleep-deprived version of my former self.
I won’t bore you with all the details but you will have to trust me when I tell you we tried every possible thing a parent might try to get baby Lucy to sleep. I googled and googled and googled all day long. I felt like a broken person.
Exhausting all avenues
After exhausting all avenues, when Lucy was almost five months old we decided to get a sleep consultant. I had heard about Karen, but to be honest, we weren’t well off and baulked at the cost. And would it really work?
Karen’s help was honestly a turning point for us.
Karen came into our home and was so confident that she would get Lucy to sleep. I was sceptical, and I told her so. I had heard this confidence before from others. However, Tom and I were mobilised to do anything to get a few hours of zzzzz.
After meeting Lucy and comprehensively understanding her situation and personality, Karen set about suggesting numerous changes to Lucy’s routine, diet and our parenting approach. Karen stayed the night with us (we were too exhausted to do it alone by this stage).
That first night
That first night after starting the sleep training she slept from about 7.30pm to 2 am.
I was honestly shocked and kept waking up thinking “is she ok?”. She had never. Ever. Slept that long in one stretch.
It took some work and self-discipline to reformulate what we were doing but to be honest, it really wasn’t so hard. Nothing was as hard as what Tom and I had been suffering through.
Things improved for two weeks but then Lucy developed a cold. We were back to where we started. I was depressed that we had put in so much effort and were back at square one. But the difference was: this time we had Karen to call on. I could call her to ask her how to get back on track. Karen checked in regularly and offered additional suggestions and advice. And we worked our way back to Lucy’s blissful sleep. She woke three times a night, and absolute achievement compared to where we were.
Since then, Lucy has slowly but steadily improved. Three wakings at night, then two. Now one. Occasionally she gifts us with sleeping from 7 pm to 5 am. Her catnaps are slowly disappearing. She is able to self-settle.
Pleasure in parenting
I finally began to take pleasure in parenting, as did Tom. I understood now that parenting wasn’t something to be endured, and I could see why people enjoyed it. And Lucy’s personality changed from being a demanding, grumpy little thing into this peaceful baby with a lovely temperament.
Karen described to us during her visit that we would be giving Lucy a gift in teaching her to sleep. This was true, though it was of course also a gift for us. There were the immediate benefits to our sleep and sanity, however, there was something longer term that we carried with us about how to parent our child.
Tom and I have had many insights about what happened with Lucy in those first five months now. At the time we really needed someone to come and pull us out of the trenches that we were stuck in every day.
If you can relate to this story, I would really encourage you to call Karen. Your sanity is worth every penny.
Thanks, Karen <3
This is the Happy Ever After Picture of Lucy, Rachel and Tom
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