Monday, November 19, 2012

The Importance of Sleep, Part II

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!



Lindsay said...

I'm so glad that this worked out for you. Oscar has always had sleep problems and I wish I had done this. I still may. I'm SO glad this worked out for you. xo

Ashley Izsak said...

I am so glad you found help with a sleep consultant. We used one a few months back and she changed our lives. It sounds like you had it really rough to begin with. I hope you keep in touch with her as when sleep schedules change with age she will be a great resource!

Designwali said...

That is such great news. I say use the professionals when you need to...that's what they are there for and you are always bound to learn something. Glad your little man is sleeping & gave you back your sanity!

Life Begins at Thirty, Right? said...

Thanks Ashley! Before having Luca I would have laughed at the thought of a sleep consultant but now I know better (and sleep better!).

gemma@thesweetestdigs said...

I'm so, so happy to hear this!! Your little man looks so darling and happy. My best friend has a 7-week old who has colic (so she's been told), and having a tough time -- I am definitely going to send her your post and Pam's website. thanks!! xo

Michelle @ AM Dolce Vita said...

The differences from the Before and the After are magical! I guess it was a good call to use Pam's service. Note to myself: something to keep in mind for the future. :)

Alison said...

yay Luca! You look sooo happy :)

Stephanie Fazio (aka lealou) said...

This is so awesome. Mila would cry too from basically 5-10 and I never wanted anyone to be over because I would just be feeding her and feeding her to try to ease the crying. Then one day I thought "I bet she's just tired!" So at 3 weeks I started getting her ready to go to bed at 6 and all of a sudden the crying stopped. This girl loves her sleep! Sleep rules! :) I'm so happy you have a happy Luca now!

Amelia @ House Pretty said...

The change you describe is incredible and I'm so, so happy this worked for you. Sounds like it was worth every penny and then some!

Rachel said...

Awesome news! I'm happy for you and a bit jealous. My daughter is a couple of weeks younger than Luca. She sleeps fairly well, but there are some improvements I'd like to make (i.e. eliminate the middle of the night feedings and not be required to feed her to sleep at night).

I'm not trying to get sleep advice without paying for a consultation (I will gladly get one if I can change the above), but I was wondering if Luca now sleeps throughout the night without any feedings? Also, at what time is his last feeding before bed? Basically I"m wondering how long he can go without a feed a night.


Alison said...

Rhys is 5 mos tomorrow, and he can go from 6pm - 6am without feeding.

Picardy Project said...

Hooray for sleepy baby!!!! And I also love Tim Hortons so much that I drool :)

Sara @ Russet Street Reno said...

That last pic is so awesome! I hear you on scheduling your day around naps. Some babies are very easy and can be flexible with naps, I know that Ash is not that way. If we miss his sleepy cues and he doesn't get his nap at that time, there is hell to pay. I do miss things and we can't really drive to IL to see Shaun's family too much, but that's just the way it is. I'm so very happy that you aren't going through that anymore, congrats!

Sara @ Russet Street Reno said...

My son is 5 months, a few days after he turned 5 months he started sleeping through the night. He was previously waking once between 12 and 2am for a feeding. Now he sleeps 7pm - 6ish with no feeding at night. We wake him around 6:15 to start getting ready for the day, but he would sleep 12 hours I'm sure. What helped us was getting him into his crib for the night and for naps at the first signs of being tired (rubbing eyes, not making eye contact) before he started to fuss and cry. If that meant he slept for 20 hours in one day, fine. Once I stopped looking at the clock and let him tell me when he needed sleep, life got really good for us. Sometimes I still nurse him to calm him if he's already fussing, but I usually don't have to. I never nursed him until he was actually asleep though. I did let him cry it out before, but now that he is getting to sleep when he needs it, there isn't much crying at all. Good luck!

Sarah said...

So happy that you are getting some sleep and Luca is rested and happy! What a difference it makes!!

Erica said...

My son breastfeeds only and sleeps thru the night 7-7, with no feedings since 3 months old. He's now 5 months old and same thing. We saw pam when he was 3mos. Changed our lives!

Neyir said...

So pleased for you Janice! We used the Sleep Sense book with our first and it was life-changing. I need to pull it out again as number 2 is having some sleep issues, totally different than the first though..

Sara K {SaigeWisdom} said...

I'm asking for Pam for Christmas. I saw her mini-presentation and implemented a few of her suggestions (ie. sleep sack, bath, etc.) Gabriel is 13.5 months, goes to bed with a bottle, wakes up at least once during the night aaaand gets up for good anywhere between 4:30 am - 6 am.
I'm so glad you're getting the gift of sleep - makes a HUGE difference. xo

skerz said...

So glad your saga has such a happy ending :)
I wanted to thank you for sharing so much about the good AND the bad of being a new mom. I've found that we don't talk about the negatives nearly enough and they are certainly something new moms need to hear. At least I certainly did - the more you hear about others' struggles the less alone you feel.
Even though things have gone pretty smoothly with Oliver (at least once we figured out we weren't feeding him enough). Two of my friends have had children since Oliver was born, and I've tried to "pay it forward" by sharing my experiences with them!
So thanks again and please keep sharing!

Jacqueline Puff said...

I saw your post via facebook from Pam's page. I too used Pam when my Charlie was 4.5 months old. Just after I got a 2nd degree burn from being tired one morning. And had to go to a burn clinic. And forgot Charlie on an ottoman for a moment and he tumbled off (no injuries). And broke out crying all the time. And so on and so on. Pam recommended I leave the house the first night of ST (I pumped all his milk so it was possible for us). I came home at 4am that night just SURE complete misery and chaos was ensuing. It wasn't. We were fixed in 2-3 nights. 1.5 hours of total cry time (not all at once). I am an advocate for moms getting sleep now and feverently defend sleep training. There is a TON of ignorance on this issue and we needs more advocates for moms. We don't live in villages anymore. We often have NO help. Or PPD. And sleep itself is something people are ignorant about. It's necessary. It always has been. People who want to live like cavemen and women, not getting a full night's sleep can be assured they will only live as long as those people did (not long). We need sleep for mental, emotional, social and physical health. Good for you.

Sara McCarty said...

Fantastic! So babies really can sleep, huh? I guess I might need to call Pam. :) Oh man, sleep would be SO nice!

Megan said...

Thanks for posting! I spent last nights feeding reading all about the sleep sense program. I might need to call Pam!

Lisa from Wicked & Weird said...

HOORAY!!!! I am so, so happy to hear this - what a massive relief you must feel. How awesome that there are people like Pam out there - worth every penny I would say!

Heather @ InteriorGroupie said...

wow that is so great that you got the help you needed (and Luca needed). So happy for all of you, it must be SO much fun now!!

TS said...

Hi there - we turned to Sleep Sense when our little one was just over 3 months (I too felt guilt about how young she was and I too used to dread every evening ritual) and it changed our lives - mom, dad, and baby. Our daughter is now almost 2 years and remains a champion sleeper. Best investment of energy and time we ever made to sleep train her using this gentle approach. In my experience, sleep is a make or break. Congrats!

KatieMB said...

SO glad to read this update! And so very glad you're sharing Pam's info, as many other families can use her services. Omgoodness, what a happy and beautiful family you are. :)

Life Begins at Thirty, Right? said...

Hi Jacqeline - I just noticed your comment now. Thank you for contributing your story. I agree - there is a lot of ignorance and judgement on this issue and I even contemplated not telling people our story because I didn't want anyone to judge us. But I'm so glad we did. ST literally changed our lives. Hope you are doing well!