Hey there dear mamas,
This time one year ago, I was a wreck. Insanely sleep deprived. Quick to snap. Quick to cry. Quick to feel the intensity of emotions like overwhelm, stress, and anxiety. But, like many other mamas (and papas), I had to keep putting one foot in front of the other - there were meals to make, a baby to feed, work to do, a business to run.
Bodhi, our son, was just over five months at the time and was NOT sleeping. I actually dreaded the question, “Is he sleeping at night?” Or even worse, “Is he a good baby?” As if sleeping or not made him “good.” I thought I might burst into tears whenever someone asked these questions, because the reality was that our baby had slept on mine or my husband’s chest nearly every night since his birth. That sweet little Baby Bjorn bassinet? He might have accumulated 20 hours total in it over five and half months. He had really bad silent reflux (a type of acid reflux), and instead of sleeping for 2-3 hours stretches at a time like many young babies do, Bodhi had started to wake up every 45 minutes to an hour. Every. Night.
Do you know how insane that feels? To be woken up every hour?? In the first few months of Bodhi’s life, I could manage…I don’t know how. But, when we started to approach the five month and then the six month mark, I know I needed help. At the encouragement of a friend, I hired a Sleep Consultant. I didn’t even know these things existed, but when you’re sleep deprived you will try anything, right? At this point, I had read half a dozen books on infant sleep and researched dozens of blogs, but another fun fact: Sleep deprivation makes it hard to think intelligently, make complex decisions…like creating and sticking to a sleep plan.
Within ONE week of working with a Sleep Consultant (and getting medical advice for the reflux), Bodhi was sleeping five to six hour stretches at night. He only woke up once or twice to feed at night for 10 minutes at a time. I could handle that. I also appreciated a gentle approach to guide my baby towards sleep. Every parent has their own parenting philosophy, and I appreciated my consultant working with ours. My husband and I were actually able to cuddle/read/watch a TV show together after putting him to bed, rather than turning out all the lights in the house and taking turns holding him while he slept. I finally started to feel like…me again. Awake. Bright. Happy. Curious Leanne again.
What I hope you know is that if your baby isn’t sleeping through the night by six months, nine months, or even 12 months, that you are not alone. And, that actually, it may not be “normal” for your baby. BUT, babies can learn to soothe themselves and sleep for longer stretches, which I believe supports their little bodies and the entire family’s well-being. It’s up to us to teach them and guide them towards restful sleep.
I’ve had a lot of questions about why I decided to study infant and toddler sleep, why I’m working to become a Sleep Consultant. And, here’s the answer(s): #1. I went through the intensity of sleep deprivation for months and want to help other mothers get through it. #2. I’m a prenatal and postnatal yoga teacher, and know that in order for mamas to feel good/heal/practice, we need to help their infants and toddlers rest. #3. Honestly…I’m insanely curious about sleep and rest, helping EVERYONE access it’s healing properties, and decided to follow the curiosity trail... even if I”m not quite sure where it will lead. ;)
There will be more to come on tips to help you and your babies get better rest. In fact, I’ll be starting a regular post on my @yogadearmama Instagram page on Sundays. I hope you’ll follow along. For now, though, what questions do you have about your baby’s sleep? And, keep following over on that page, because I’ll need families to “practice” with to attain my certification! Maybe you’ll be that family?
With love and wishes for sweet dreams,