A question I asked myself multiple times, mainly at 3 am when my baby just wouldn't sleep...
A question I asked myself multiple times, mainly at 3am when my baby just wouldn't sleep. Apart from finding pregnancy hard to enjoy due to my high anxiety, and a traumatic birth that I'm sure I still haven't quite come to terms with, I was finding the newborn stage hard. My little boy was 9 weeks old, my husband returned to work, and it was just us. I loved having the time together, but it was so much harder than I had anticipated.
I took my baby to a sensory class. I wasn't really into making new mom friends, but it seemed like the done thing to take your kid to one of these classes. So, I went. There were several other moms and babies there who were all around the same age as my son. We sat around in a circle and introduced ourselves and our baby. Everyone seemed to make a comment about their baby 'being a really good sleeper,' which I thought was odd. We love to talk about our babies, and that wouldn't be the first thing to come to mind to mention. But as all the other moms went around, they ALL said it.
There was one mom in particular who I remember had fabulous hair, definitely curls from being in rollers, a full face of makeup, and she was wearing jeans! Actual jeans. There was no way I was even fitting one leg in my legging-style jeans, let alone an actual proper pair. Her baby was beautiful, she had a lovely little dress, and was so happy laying there. I was in awe of this woman and her baby. She seemed so together and really comfortable.
With each mom and baby that spoke, my heart sank a little deeper each time. When it got to my turn, I lied. I said my son was also a great sleeper and he was great. He was great, he was the best little boy, but he did not sleep, and he was either crying or being sick (was actually screaming and being sick at the same time as this was going on). In that moment, I felt embarrassed to be there. I was wearing leggings and a Primark special long T-shirt that definitely had sick on it, and I actually felt quite together that day as I had managed a shower and to brush my hair.
I couldn't wait for the class to end as all my son did was cry. I left, and I told myself I wouldn't go back. I remember crying a lot when I got home. I felt so guilty that I was letting my son down because I didn't know how to help him with his sleep. I genuinely thought that every other baby was doing the exact same thing as him — not sleeping — and this was just what babies did. So, of course, I turned to the internet! Well, that was a mistake. Page 38 of the Google search later and I was completely overwhelmed and lost.
There were loads of things that I went on to try: Ewan the sheep, blackout blinds, the dummy, an egg in a sock (don't bother), half an onion, you name it, I tried it. And nothing worked. And that's when I thought there must be something seriously wrong with my son. If all of these things weren't working, he was broken. I feel really guilty for thinking that, but it was 4 months now of no sleep, and my baby seemed to be the only one that wasn't sleeping.
But my baby wasn't broken. There was nothing wrong with him, and my parenting was more than adequate. The newborn stage can be a lonely place with lots of misinformation, and other mothers not being entirely truthful about how it is for them or their baby when it comes to sleep, especially. And I never want a parent to ever feel alone or that their baby is broken.
So, on one of my many internet search quests to find out exactly how to help my son sleep, I came across an advert for a sleep consultant. I didn't really know what that was; I'd never heard of one before. They had listed all that was happening for my little boy, and so I booked a call. I literally had nothing to lose. The woman at the end of the phone, for the first time, made me feel like there was hope, and that there wasn't anything wrong with my son or me! She sounded so confident that she could help me, even though I kept telling her how stubborn and fussy my son was.
In that moment, I felt heard, understood, and hopeful. And that in itself was a game changer – not someone just telling me 'it's a phase, just let him sleep in your bed until he's 12, you should be grateful you have a baby.' I spoke with my husband about hiring her. It was a financial undertaking as I was on maternity pay, but he agreed that if we wanted my mental health to improve, and the health and well-being of both of us to be at its best with proper sleep, then it was an investment worth making (also to not have a grumpy wife – smart man).
This sleep consultant changed my life. Honestly, I think she saved my life. My baby was sleeping, I was sleeping. I had the confidence to venture out, I didn't have anxiety leading up to bedtime, I could do bedtime on my own. I had the energy to play with my son and enjoy my time off with him. I could keep on top of the housework, I could actually cook a meal and have a hot cup of tea. Everything benefited. And that's exactly why I do this now for other families. I want all parents to get some rest, and I never want them to feel hopeless or alone. Sleep can always be sorted, and you can be the parent you dreamed you would be.
Author: Super Simple Sleep Facebook Group