Hello! I’m Tara, mum to my cheeky chappy Freddie who’s two and a half, and my beautiful, sassy girl Maisie, who’s 9 months old.
Naturally, life with two (almost) under two’s is beautifully chaotic at the best of times, but throw in a breastfed baby who just does not like sleep… well, you can imagine!
When Maisie was born I obviously expected there to be sleepless nights, but I (perhaps somewhat naively) didn’t expect it to last this long! I honestly can’t remember when I last got more than a two hour stretch of sleep, let alone a full night. My eldest had always been a fantastic sleeper, sleeping 11-12 hours with minimal wake ups from about 6 months old, so I just wasn’t prepared for what it feels like to be this sleep deprived.
When the ‘problem’ got worse,
Maisie hit the dreaded four month sleep regression bang on target, where she began waking every hour. I always breastfed her back to sleep, and sometimes she would feed for up to 30 minutes, so by the time I drifted off to sleep again she would be wide awake again!
She still didn’t really have a routine for her day naps either, so much of my day was spent either feeding her to sleep or wheeling her in the buggy. Cue this with a toddler who decided he’s too cool to nap anymore, and you’ve got one exhausted mama! Thank god for coffee and the power of a good cry!
Maisie’s frequent wake ups were getting so bad that I really considered stopping breastfeeding (so many people told me that switching to formula would make all the difference), but I knew deep down that this wouldn’t be the answer, and that I didn’t really want to. We tried moving her to her own room at b6 months old – this worked for a couple of nights, but then she was back to her usual wake ups. So I tried co-sleeping with her, and she seemed a lot more settled, so we’ve been doing this ever since. Don’t get me wrong, I love the cuddles and closeness that comes with co-sleeping, but she was still waking frequently, and it just wasn’t particularly comfortable.
Sleepy Lambs to the rescue!
It was through MyBump2Baby that I met Rachel from Sleepy Lambs Sleep Consulting. We got chatting about her role and my current situation with Maisie, and she kindly offered to give my family and I some support to help Maisie sleep better.
If i’m going to be completely honest, I was a bit sceptical at first, and I thought the advice she would give me would be to cry it out – but it was far from that. Rachel offered me an initial telephone consultation, where we discussed Maisie’s current sleep patterns, any health issues, and what I wanted to gain from the experience. All of these questions were answered on a questionnaire that she had sent me to fill in before our call. Rachel listened to everything I said, and teased away at the questions to fully understand what it is that we wanted to gain from her support. She made sure we were aware that the change was going to be hard at times, and asked if we were fully committed to being consistent with the strategies – we were!
We downloaded an app that Rachel had access to as well, and each day we used it to record Maisie’s sleep times, along with her wake ups and noting down when she becomes tired.
Rachel advised that we first should focus on getting Maisie’s daytime naps into more of a routine, and then after a couple of days we started with the night time sleep. We worked out that Maisie was associating breastfeeding with sleeping, so I wanted to try and break that habit (Rachel advised that this was fine because of her age, and she was having enough nutrition through solids and drinking plenty of water during the day, as well as plenty of breastfeeds). We tried a few different strategies to eventually find one that worked best for Maisie, and at every step she would email me over some helpful fact sheets with the science behind each one, as well as some helpful tips. Reading these made me feel even more reassured about the help we were getting.
We’re in regular contact with Rachel by sending messages through the app. I found this to be really helpful, as I can just pop over a question at any time and she will be back with an answer as soon as she can.
Where we are now.
We’ve been working with Rachel for about 6 weeks now, and I can hand on heart say that Maisie’s sleep has most definitely improved! She still wakes in the night for a feed, but this is getting less as the weeks go on, and she’s now able to self-soothe to get herself to sleep – a bonus for when you’ve just found your own comfy sleeping position and just don’t want to get out of bed!
She goes for every nap and sleep in her cot, and she will now babble herself to sleep instead of crying (not always, I must admit), and she has had a good few nights where she’s gone back to sleep in the cot after a feed rather than in our bed, and she’s woken up in such a better mood.
Sleepy Lambs have definitely given us the tools to help Maisie (and us!) get a better nights sleep, and for that I cannot thank you enough.