My Experience With Sleep Coaching
When asked how Toula slept I distinctly remember saying she sleeps really well. Well, my definition of ‘well’ at that point meant:
breastfeeding countless times in the night
multiple false starts going down
multiple wakes in the night
unpredictable wake time
naps mostly on the go or in a carrier
wake windows - tried my best!
I was surviving and relatively happy. My eldest daughter, Calla, was pretty similar. I just thought that how my girls were. I envied those who talked about their babies sleeping through the night, I knew it would eventually happen one day as it did with Calla. Until that point I was pretty ok just walking the path we were on.
When I met Lucy, she gave me so much hope that with a few adjustments everyone could be getting more restful sleep. I wanted to know more, I was curious. I knew there were things I could improve on like getting up at the same time everyday. I know this is ideal yet I wasn’t doing it - I was grabbing the extra z’s where possible. I was doing that because I was knackered having been feeding a lot of the night.
I knew we were ok. Naps were happening. Overnight sleep was broken but happening so I opted for a package from Lucy that suited that. It was The Self Paced Sleep Rescue ((View Here) including a questionnaire, a 4 days diary which Lucy assessed and then a consultation. Following all that Lucy then writes up a plan and off you go.
I figured I had nothing to lose. I could give it a go and if we even got 10% better it would be a fab win. I knew I would have a few more tools in the toolbox and a bit more understanding of what’s normal when it comes to infant sleep.
Ok so first step the questionnaire. I dreaded doing this - I knew I had to sit down and go through it and something in me just did not want to. I guess I knew it would show me, in black and white what was going on and I would be out of my go with the flow bubble.
Wow - I got so much out of the questionnaire. It was pretty in depth but answering the questions really highlighted the importance of doing this and showed me that my head was in the sand a little! In parenting, we do our best until we know better, then we adjust, adapt and then again, do our best. There is so much that we just do in a certain way, just because. Maybe it was passed onto us that’s how you do it or that is normal. This questionnaire snaps you right out of autopilot and has you questioning, ok why do I do it that way, why do I expect that, why do I think that's normal?
As soon as I finished that questionnaire it was clear to me a few things I could do right now to make positive change. First one - get up at the same time every day. I knew a lot more feedback was coming from Lucy but I didn’t need to wait for that one. There was a fire up my ass and I was all in.
Next step - a 4 day diary. Another ah ha moment. Thinking I was doing things at the same time every day but really I wasn’t! I was putting myself first (not always a bad thing mumma, that cup ain’t gonna fill itself) most days and because of that Toula was having her naps on the go and they were pretty short. Again, I got a lot out of actually writing everything down. The hardest part was trying to remember how many times she fed on me overnight. I never look at my clocks or devices overnight but I wanted to know so had to check the time every time she woke (top tip from my sister on this one - do a quick screen grab of your phone while it's on the lock screen - that way in the morning you can see all your screen grabs with the time of the feed) The diary asks for a lot of detail, the more you put in the more you will get out of the next two stages!
I sent off my diary and a few days later Lucy and I had our consultation. I had already begun the consistent wake up time and I was seeing small improvements with that! Lucy spends a lot of time going into everything you submit so this consultation gets right to it. She encouraged me to take notes but reminded me that a written plan would be sent the next day too. One of the first things Lucy said to me was “ You are doing a great job” and instantly I felt relief! Every new parent needs to hear that. Regardless of the challenge, we are all doing a great job!!
Speaking to Lucy on that consultation brought so much relief! When subjects are not our speciality there is so much that we just don’t know! I learned that generic internet advice isn’t tailored to your baby, your family, your lifestyle, your environment. I had been trying to follow wake windows but not really zooming out and looking at the bigger picture.
When my plan came through I was in the car (as a passenger Ill point out!) and I thought ill have a skim through quickly. Wow. This document is not a quick read. I quickly ditched that idea knowing I would give it my full attention later. The plan was pages long and went into so much detail and what I really love about it is that because Toula is close to dropping her 3rd nap Lucy also included information about that! It was honestly amazing and so detailed.
So that is all great, right. Getting a detailed plan is just the first step though. The next stage is full commitment from me. Honestly the biggest realisation I've had was that the coaching from Lucy was really for me. Toula was ready for a change and really it was then me who needed to get into action. She didn’t need to do anything differently, it was me!
So I committed! I changed my commitments, schedule and timings for things. I changed our sleep environment like Lucy suggested. We had such success initially with Toula sleeping for much longer stretches of time. Like everything in life - the only thing guaranteed is change. So yes the initial success dipped - but as Lucy said to me, when things do go off track you are much better equipped to realise what was going on. It was a tooth!
I am so happy to say that Toula now sleeps through the night most nights. Sometimes we have a wake that needs a cuddle or like last night, a huge head bang to the side of the cot! Her naps are much more predictable and she settles in her cot on her own. Something I really didn’t think would be possible!
Working with Lucy has meant there has been a huge shift for me too. I physically feel so much better when I wake, not like the tin man with all the broken sleep! I am able to put Toula down at night, 6:30-7pm ish and know that she is going to sleep for the night and if not the night at least a really long stretch. So because of this I have been putting her down and heading out to the gym whilst Dad holds the fort with the two girls. Her older sister goes to bed at about 7:30-8pm. I previously wouldn't have done this because she would have been up a few hours later wanting a boob! kids
This has been such a positive experience for us. All babies are different, all parents are different, our lifestyles are different and our environments are different. You deserve more than generic google advice.
If you want your infant to sleep and ultimately your own rest to be a bit better then please seek out help. Don’t wait till you are at the end of your tether.