So, where were we?
Last week I wrote about our sleep troubles. Sleep troubles that seemed pretty normal but that appeared to coincide with extreme fussiness on Luca's part. Colic. Reflux. Screaming. I had tried everything. Wearing him. Rocking him. Shushing him. Bouncing. Stories. Songs. Prayer. When I put him down to sleep, he screamed. Maybe he wanted to be comforted by me? I'd pick him up. The screaming continued. Nothing I did seem to make him feel better.
I was losing my mind.
When I was at a pretty low point, I mentioned something on Twitter and received this as a reply from a friend of mine:
Of course, I quickly googled Pam Nease and found out that she is a Sleep Sense consultant. She works with clients (ahem, desperate parents with children who hate going to sleep) all across Canada (and the US, from what I hear) to help them develop sleep plans for their kids with the ultimate goal of giving the entire family the gift of beautiful, blissful sleep.
Sounds awesome, right? I was skeptical, of course. That is just who I am. So I chatted with Alison who had worked with Pam for her little guy and had wonderful success. Her son was born a week after Luca and was sleeping 11-13 hours a night! Waking up happy! Was it possible?
Pam offers a free 15 minute phone consultation so I took her up on that. Pam called me. Standing in the middle of the Eaton Centre, exhausted, with tears in my eyes, I told her everything. I poured my heart out about my colicky-refluxy baby who screamed so much that even my nurse mom thought he was in pain. Pam listened and told me she could help us, and promised that soon enough Luca would be a happy, well-rested little boy.
J and I talked about it for a while. We thought we could DIY Luca's sleep (to save $$ of course) but it wasn't working. We made some progress, but Luca was still mostly miserable. Which made us miserable of course.
So I emailed Pam (or maybe I sent her a message on Twitter - she is totally hooked up with social media!) and told her that we would like to go ahead with the consultation.
We started working together on September 29th by having a 1.5 hour Skype meeting with Pam and the plan she created for us was implemented on September 30. Luca was about 3.5 months old.
Some may say that is early (I'd say those people don't know Luca), but that is why I think working with someone like Pam was so important. She was able to make a personalized sleep plan that took into consideration Luca's age, personality, sleep issues and colic and/or reflux issues.
Anyways - the plan we followed was implemented over a two week period and during that time, we had lots of contact with Pam. To be honest, before we started I thought that might be a bit silly. C'mon. I can follow a plan no problem. Just tell me what to do and I'll do it! No biggie, right?
However, as is par for the course with motherhood, I had my fair share of moments of uncertainty, guilt and fear. Rough nights that would only be made better by sending a panicked email to Pam. Often, by the time I'd wake in the morning, there would be a calming reply, telling me I did the right thing and/or making suggestions that could help Luca have a more peaceful sleep. Having a professional available to answer my questions and guide me was more helpful (and necessary!) than I ever thought.
We hit a few bumps during our time with Pam because it was during this period that Luca learned how to roll! As I'm sure most "been there done that" moms know, whenever a baby learns a new skill, they practice it in their crib! So just when Luca would figure out how to sleep in one position, he'd roll over and think "HEY?! HOW DID I GET HERE?!" Lucky for us, having Pam in our proverbial back pocket made this transition much easier and soon enough, Luca could sleep any which way without issue.
So I thought I'd give you a little before and after so you can see what kind of progress we made:
BP (Before Pam):
- Luca often cried from 3 or 4 p.m. until midnight (yes, friends. That is 8-9 hours)
- A good night would have 2-3 wakings with each taking about 30 minutes (those nights were RARE, i.e. maybe 4 or 5 times that happened).
- Most nights had Luca waking every 2-2.5 hours, feeding for about 45 minutes and then screaming for another 1.5-2 hours before finally sleeping.
- J would often wake in the middle of the night to find me bawling in the nursery.
- Needless to say, he was constantly feeding and I was exhausted.
- Luca woke up screaming from every nap and every morning. Screaming.
- He also screamed after most feedings, stiffening his legs and losing his marbles.
- Naps only happened in the swing or in the car seat. This meant that I had to be out of the house almost all day so that I could have a break from the screaming.
- I was an overtired crazy person who questioned her sanity and ability to be a good mom. Every day.
AP (After Pam):
- Luca goes to bed between 6:30 and 7:30 p.m. every night without tears or complaint. No rocking. No soother.
- He wakes up every morning between 6:30 and 7:30 a.m. with a MASSIVE smile on his face.
- 3 naps a day - one is between 2 and 3 hours and the other two are between 45 minutes and 1.5 hours. Wakes with a big smile.
- Now that he isn't waking at night to eat, he eats SO much better during the day. He is more satisfied and no longer cries or screams post-feed.
- I am much more aware of Luca's sleep cues so I can put him down before he is overtired.
- Because he is such a great sleeper, J and I have been able to go out on a few date nights without worrying that he will wake and need me.
- Since I no longer feed him before he goes to sleep, I'm not tied to the nursery. J can put Luca to bed, as could my parents.
- He can sleep anywhere (well, except he doesn't really like to sleep in his car seat anymore but that is okay by me) - we even went to a friend's house for a brunch and he slept in their crib! The pack n' play at the cottage was also no big deal.
- He now only cries once in a while and when he does, it is not so difficult to soothe him (or distract him).
- I no longer dread the evening, knowing that I was heading into a sh*tstorm of screaming and constant waking/feeding.
- Instead of screaming, he now babbles and coos and laughs. Throw him a fake burp and he'll lose it (in a good way!)
- Colic - gone.**
- Reflux - gone.**
Can you believe it? He is a totally different baby. So different that people often say things like "OH! What a happy baby!" Crazy, right? Luca. Happy.
Our life is a little more structured now because his sleep is very very high on our priority list. We'd rather miss out on certain events to make sure he gets a good nap because a well rested Luca is a happy one. Makes it all worth it!
So that is that. Luca is now a great sleeper and we couldn't have done it without Pam. If you are looking for help with a bad sleeper (newborn or older) or want to stop rocking, feeding and soothing your child to sleep, definitely contact her for a free consultation. You won't regret it. You can also follow her on Twitter.
** I can't say with certainty that he never had colic or reflux, but it certainly seemed that way. As soon as he started sleeping, Luca basically slept through the "colicky" part of the night and we never saw it again. The reflux also disappeared.
And since this is post #2 about sleep and it is wordy and long, here are a few pics of Luca at the Santa Claus Parade!
And yes, when we take him out in his snow suit, we leave him in his pyjamas. So embarrassing.
He obviously loves Tim Hortons so much that he is drooling!
And finally, before his bath:
Anyhoo - thanks for following my saga. I'm sure there are more challenges coming our way but it sure is nice to have a little fun and a few smiles these days!