When you are the parent of a young baby, one of the first questions that people ask you is "how are they sleeping?" If you have asked me this question recently, you've probably gotten a tearful, long and incoherent answer to this question. The short answer is NOT WELL, and I've been feeling very, very sorry for myself.
|Sleep, precious sleep.|
The fact is that Ben is almost 5 months old, and he has already had 3 different houses. Until recently, Ben had no sense of normalcy, and it was really affecting his sleep. As of this morning however, EVERYTHING IS DIFFERENT, because last night Ben SLEPT FOR 8 HOURS STRAIGHT AND NOW I CANT STOP TYPING IN ALL CAPS I'M SO EXCITED AND I FEEL LIKE I COULD ACCOMPLISH ANYTHING AND ALSO I'VE HAD LIKE 3 CUPS OF COFFEE AND HAND DECORATED 15 CHRISTMAS ORNAMENTS*. I'm going to tell you how he turned the corner, but first I'm going to explain where we started from. This is best represented in the form of a short play, which I wrote in a sleep deprived stupor just after Ben hit the dreaded 4 month sleep regression:
*These are the ornaments.
Why I need Coffee:
A mother's tale of infant sleep
By Katie Hayes
A mother's tale of infant sleep
By Katie Hayes
Katie: A tired Mommy
Ben: A four month old baby
(The family is eating dinner)
Ben: THE BABY IS TIRED. I'm so tired I can't keep my eyes open. I'm the tiredest baby who ever lived. PLEASE put me to bed. PLEASE PLEASE? Oh my god I'm so tired. Mommy, have you no mercy in your empty, cruel soul?
Me: Ok, let's go to bed. (Lights go out, swaddle goes on.)
Ben: I am not tired.
Me: What? You said you were!
Ben: I would never say that. You're imagining things. Let's cuddle.
Ben: OH SHIT OH SHIT OH SHIT!
Ben: My pacifier fell out.
Me: That was like, hours ago.
Ben: Yeah, I know, but I just now realized it.
Me: Ok, here it is.
Ben: No. That's not good enough.
Me: What? You said you wanted it.
Ben: I want the real thing.
Me: Just take the pacifier.
Me: You're not hungry.
Ben: (singing, to tune of "funky town") Won't you take me to. Titty tooooooown!? Won't you take me to. Titty town.
Me: Not now Ben.
Ben: Tiiiiiity Town!
Me: Fine, just sleep afterwards okay?
Ben: It's time for my workout!
Me: What's up? I heard yelling and grunting.
Ben: I'm trying to roll over.
Me: Can you do that tomorrow?
Ben: (Rolling) Look at my skillz, Mom.
Me: You're going to get stuck like that.
Ben: No way, I'm basically a professional.
Me: Ben, Listen--
Ben: AHHHHHHHHHHHHH! AHHHHHHHHHHHH! AHHHHHHHH!
Me: I told you you'd get stuck.
Ben: Just leave your titties in here with me, ok?
Me: That's not how it works.
Ben: Why do you hate the baby?
Ben: I feel refreshed!
Me: Go to back to sleep Ben.
Ben: I could never sleep on such a glorious day! I love you MOMMY! I'm so happy to seeeeeee you!
Me: It is night time.
Ben: Says you.
Me: Says everybody, it's 3 am.
Ben: You're so pretty Mommy. You look like a model.
Me: (softening) Aww thank you sweetie! I--
Ben: Let me eat your hair.
Me: Go to sleep.
Ben: MOM! MOM! MOM!
Ben: You told me to tell you after 45 minutes was up.
Me: I would never say that.
Ben: Ok whatever, but since you're here (Lowers gaze.)
Me: Why are you looking at me like that?
Ben: Like what?
Me: Like I'm a cheeseburger.
Ben: Who said anything about burgers? I'm more of a milk and cookies sort of man.
Me: Ben, no--
Ben: Minus the cookies.
You get the picture. Pretty much every night my baby had turned into an attention seeking titty-gobbler who tormented me and Sean. It is not an exaggeration to say that many nights he was up once an hour.
I was desperate, my life was in total chaos, and that is when I started working with Kaylan Adams, an infant sleep coach who I met through my sister. At first I was reluctant to seek help because, after all I am an experienced mother who has successfully guided one baby through colic, xylophone music, and other infant horrors. But, Sean had a different opinion. When I told him about Kaylan's business he said: "She is a genius, There is no amount of money I would not pay in order to sleep at night again." So, I took Kaylan up on her offer to help, and she sent me a bunch of materials for her online course "Start Strong." From this course I identified several different areas where I could improve.
My first shocking discovery was that Ben was severely underslept. I hadn't previously realized this because I hadn't been writing anything down. When Millie was a baby, I charted her sleep, feeding, and pooping cycles with a the precision of a scientist. However Ben and I are usually on the go--trying to keep up with his four year old sister. My day was much too packed with me playing "Captain Barnacles" from Octonauts to actually take notes on my son's sleep. Once I started writing things down, I realized that he was only actually sleeping between 8-10 hours a day, instead of the recommended 13-14.
There was also a lot of stuff in the course that I was already doing-- for example coming up with a clear bed-time routine. What I liked about this information is that it forced me to really examine my practices and ask myself what was working, and where I was cutting corners.
Between, Kaylan's course, sleep training, and the reintroduction of "THE THUNDERSTORM," (A white noise recording that Sean made that now plays continuously in our home,) we now have Ben back on track in terms of his sleep. He consistently sleeps 14 hours a day, with one long (6-8 hour) stretch at night where I can get a little bit of rest.
|This is Kaylan. Give her all of your money.*|
*Full Disclosure: Now that I am a loyal acolyte of Kaylan's she will pay me referral fees if you purchase her course through this blog. I promise to spend this money on coffee.
When I walk around this weekend, I can't wait for people to ask me how Ben is sleeping. They'll still get an earful-- but this time it will be hopefully be hilarious stories about Sean accidentally shaving his beard off, or me fleeing from the grocery store like a coward. If they're lucky, they may also get a hand decorated Christmas ornament, but that of course depends on how much coffee I've had.
Link to Kaylan's "Start Strong Course."
Video recording of "the Thunderstorm" an hour long white noise recording that plays continuously while our kids sleep and makes me want to continuously make out with my husband, who created it. #seanwillyoumakeoutwithme