I worked with Charlie at 7 months old and the relief that it brought to the family transformed the lives of Mum, Dad and beautiful Charlie. In Mum's words, the account below is the transformation that took place after we worked together.
These kinds of amazing transformations take place ALL the time and they are EVERYTHING to me. Sleep is so much more than the time your little one is down. It is health. It is development. It is family bonding time. It is why I do what I do.
By Charlie's Mum
I knew it you know, I knew our lack of sleep was an issue, I had no motivation, I didn’t feel like myself anymore, I felt isolated, I felt like I was just getting through each day. If anything If I felt anything it was anxiety. Putting my baby to bed only came with a feeling of unease, would she sleep for long? Would she re settle quickly. I didn’t want to have her baby sat because I didn’t want anyone to stuff up her already broken sleep anymore. I didn’t want to go out incase it ruined the entire day. Then there was other days I would just think stuff it I'm going out because its all ruined anyway and I would dread heading home until my partner came home incase my time out during the day turned everything on its head. My partner probably used to try but he's stopped trying now, he just didn’t do it right, I feel like she cried more so what was the point.I may as well get it sorted quickly. I tried it all though books, online methods, I went to a sleep school, used one consultant but that didn’t work and what's worse is that when each one failed I lost hope. It was easier for me to just believe I had the “one baby” it wouldn’t work for. So I just kept blaming one thing to the next, teething, milestones. Sickness and when there wasn’t something to blame I just looked at the leaps and of course believed I was truly in a rainy period.
I was scrolling my Facebook one night when I saw Tara had put a list of excuses up and a list on what poor sleep habits will present as. It seemed to me that she nailed each one, I mean I was blaming all of the above and Charlie was doing everything that was on her list. I emailed Tara but really didn’t have any intentions of moving forward. To be honest I think I just thought the possibility would get me through another day but I was only in it for that. Then she offered to call to have a chat, what have I got to lose I thought. Tara called and it wasn’t how I imagined at all, she didn’t try and sell her services, she didn’t dig into all of my excuses. Quite the opposite in fact she flat out said to me, your experience of motherhood is one of survival and it simply doesn’t need to be the case. We can get this sorted and I know you believe your child is the extraordinary one in a million that cannot sleep well but he's not and I need you to trust me. Even when we spoke about which package her recommendations were not based on the most expensive, infact she didn’t even mention that one. It was based on how I believe I will manage the initial change. I chose to have her out because I was a little nervous about the initial change. She didn’t hide the fact that he might cry but she reassured me there are weaning options and support both physical and verbal can be given.
As Tara put it nearly everything we learn is through repetition and association so now we are just changing the patterns he has come to believe would equal sleep.
Charlie -7 months of age
Before Tara came Charlie had multiple night wakings usually around 11, 2, 3 and up for the day at 5am. Sometimes the wakings would start from 9pm onwards.
Night one Tara came out to our house for a 3 hour 'in home' .
- Charlie always did short naps
- Charlie had no ability to self settle and required feeding or holding back to sleep.
- Charlie was a happy baby but tired quickly during his awake periods, he was either wired which made people think he wasn’t affected by it or he was clingy and miserable.
- Charlie also didn’t take to solids well and I believe this is because he fed a lot more than he actually needed to overnight.
The moment I opened the door I was met with a warm hug and a smile from one side of her face to the other. She automatically paid particular attention to Charlie, he engaged with her like he has known her for ages. It felt like she was a friend popping over to have a chat. She began to guide us for the bedtime routine. She spoke to us about the changes in the bedtime routine that were necessary. My husband and I were blown away, her advice was completely opposite to much of the other things I had read but she explained the whys behind it all and it completely made sense. It was only once I realised there was actually many different things to change that I never would have know about that I truly thought maybe this will work.
What we worked on:
- Keeping Charlie awake in the bedtime routine, we moved the feed 30 min before her bed time was due.
- We shortened Charlie’s overall awake time and got him much warmer. Then we discussed a method that I felt comfortable with but factored into it how Charlie would normally respond when we have attempted things before.
Tara really explained in depth the deal with any crying we would experience during the change and she also made sure she gave us options to be able to support Charlie both verbally and physically.
The first settle was about 30 minutes but most of the settle Charlie seemed more annoyed then he did upset. In fact each part that Tara had pre-empted happening,did, which really made me feel like Charlie was 'normal' in the motions he was going through whilst dropping old learned patterns.
As Tara put it nearly everything we learn is through repetition and association
so now we are just changing the patterns he has come to believe would equal sleep.
During night one we really only had one harder settle but I felt like for the first time my husband and I were on the same page and I also felt like Charlie was again more frustrated in his call outs than upset. We stuck with the method and felt that Charlie just understood 'it's time for sleep'. Then he had a couple of other settles that were reasonably short, we kept one feed in the second half of the night.
for the first time my husband and I were on the same page
Day one we still experienced catnapping
but Tara had already told us this was normal at the beginning and would take upto a week to settle down. Charlie did however settle really well, he also took third nap for the dirst time in ages based on moving that nap later and not getting him wound down prior to it.
Charlie only had two wakings both that were about 10 minutes in length I didn’t have to go in for one of them as he re settled pretty quickly. Watching him do this really reassured me getting sleep sorted had nothing to do with a baby learning not to cry or distress so badly they have anxiety at 18. It was about him realising he could get into a deep relaxed sleep and not have to worry about something or someone having to be there to bridge his sleep cycles.
So let's fast forward and let me tell you a few things.
On night three and since then Charlie has slept 11.5 hours straight.
He only had one feed in the night, after 8 days Charlie was no longer catnapping either and the best part was I didn’t have to persevere with lengthy re settles to get a nap extension, not once!
Here goes with the changes that our family experienced.
I LOVE BEING A STAY AT HOME MUM MORE NOW, LIKE I REALLY LOVE IT
- My Charlie is happier more peaceful, instead of an erratic or miserable demeanour he is predictable but settled. Contentment is what I would call his demeanour.
- Tara told us that just because a baby is super alert from birth that doesn’t mean they don’t need sleep.
- His eating has just absolutely transformed.
- I gained back my confidence in my ability to parent well.
- I felt like I now had one source I trusted in an area that had previously bought me many tears and disappointment.
- Charlie focused more on one thing, he spent more time just observing and paying attention to his toys.
- I felt less stuck and I got to the light at the end of the tunnel
- Charlie woke happy instead of crying.
- I know I have set this up for Charlie for many years to come.
- I felt like I knew when I should head out and about with Charlie and I loved the fact that I didn’t have to wake him up during naps or plan to the minute.
- My mental health was saved completely
- I gained more motivation, I began a little exercise and started making Charlie's food instead of buying it.
- I looked forward to my time with Charlie and had more desire to spend quality time properly interacting with him.
- My husband and I stopped picking at or on one another
- I am able to spend time with my partner and strengthen our bond because together we are the cradle that holds the family.