This December, we’ve been spotlighting several Baby Sleep Site® families – families who, just like yours, were struggling through awful sleep deprivation and trying in vain to help their children sleep. You’ll learn why they contacted The Baby Sleep Site®, how our team walked them through the sleep coaching process, and how they finally solved their children’s sleep challenges.
We’ve already met Christel, a mom who had a 4-month old waking 5-8 times a night, co-sleeping only out of necessity, and would only nap for 20-30 minutes at a time. And we’ve met Yeyin, a beautiful mom of a beautiful daughter who was exhausted beyond measure when she came to us for help. She had tried everything – everything – she could think of to help little Haera sleep, including turning to a local sleep consultant, but nothing worked. And, today, you’ll meet Joanie, who had read everything and was on “information overload” trying to help her baby sleep and stop waking 15 times a night. Her husband even switched work shifts to try to help manage! Keep reading to read their story!
Meet Joanie, and Read Her Story!
Joanie is a teacher and devoted mom whose daughter was a dream sleeper until she started teething at 7 months. Then their whole routine fell apart and Joanie was so sleep deprived that her husband changed his work schedule so he could let her rest during the day. They were truly in survival mode!
Read on and find out how Joanie was able to help her daughter learn how to sleep on her own again and everyone could get the consolidated sleep they desperately needed.
The Baby Sleep Site: What was sleep like in your home before contacting The Baby Sleep Site? What problems were you struggling with?
Joanie: “Sleep was torture! I dreaded bedtime. Gabriela would take forever to go to sleep. Some nights, up to 90 minutes just to get her in her crib. Then another hour to actually get her to sleep. She would be almost sleeping in my arms, and as soon as I’d lay her down, she’d be wide awake, start running around the crib, and no matter what I did – pat her back, rub her belly, shush her, sing, play music, NOTHING would put her to sleep. I would eventually just take her out and rock her until she was asleep. Which wouldn’t have been so terrible, if she didn’t wake up 3-4 times a night like she did, every night.
Before I reached out for help, I tried to sleep train Gabriela on my own using a mix of methods. I HATED leaving her to cry, so I tried more gentle methods, like pick up/put down, the chair method, anything that would stop her from wailing. Needless to say, anytime I put her down, she’d cry. I thought I was a failure, that I was doing something wrong. So, I’d give up and go back to rocking her till she was fast asleep, and seemingly content. Then I’d pray to God, my grandparents who passed on, my cat that’s long passed, anyone that would listen, that she would sleep through the night.”
The Baby Sleep Site: Had you tried other sleep consulting or sleep coaching tools before contacting us? Had you read baby sleep books, or worked with other sleep consultants? If yes, what was your experience like using other resources?
Joanie: “As a teacher, I am by nature a lover of learning and a seeker of information. I read books, articles, blogs, anything I could get my hands on about sleep. I educated myself about sleep training methods, wake times, sleep associations (which I knew she had but didn’t know how to break), naps, recommended daily sleep requirements, you name it. I was on serious ‘information overload,’ and to the point where I didn’t know what to take from what source. So, I tried a little bit of everything in hopes that something would stick. It was overwhelming, and largely unsuccessful.”
The Baby Sleep Site: What were your main goals in sleep coaching? What did you hope that you and your sleep consultant would be able to accomplish together?
Joanie: “My main goal in sleep coaching was to have Gabriela go down easier, and most importantly, to sleep through the night. When she was an infant, she slept like a dream. When she was 4 weeks old, I would set an alarm to wake up and feed her overnight because I was worried she wasn’t eating enough. I’d do a dream feed and be back in bed 10 minutes later. Then teething happened at 7 months and my once well rested, easy sleeper, turned into a monster, who refused to sleep, EVER! Her night wakings were destroying me both physically and mentally, to the point that my husband switched his work shift, and went from working mornings to late afternoons, so he’d be able to be up with her the 3 or 4 times she’d wake, so I could rest. It was horrible!
I work full-time, and when I was getting home, my husband was leaving. We had no family time together, and I was functioning as a single parent for most of the week, because he was at work and couldn’t help out with her when she was actually awake. When I reached out to The Baby Sleep Site, I was hoping and praying that they could help me make sense of all the information out there, and help me figure out how to help my very strong-willed, determined, active child, unwind and soothe herself to sleep. I am convinced that my daughter has pepper up her butt – she is in perpetual motion All. Day. Long! I hoped that they could guide me in ways to help her sleep through the night without making her cry uncontrollably, for hours on end. I was convinced that Gabriela would scream bloody murder for hours on end if I left the room, so I would never try.”
The Baby Sleep Site: What were your initial impressions of working with your consultant? What did you think of your Personalized Sleep Plan®?
Joanie: “From the start I loved how much time and effort Amy put into designing my Personalized Sleep Plan. She didn’t just say, “do this, do that”, she took the time to explain why I should take these steps and how everything tied together. She included a lot of great examples and even shared some of her own experiences that were similar to ours, which helped in 2 ways: it was great to know that I wasn’t the only one who had these issues, and secondly, it made sense of everything I was experiencing. It was so nice to know that someone else could really understand what was happening, and could relate to my daughter. The sleep plan addressed every concern and every question I had before I knew I had them! The other thing that I loved, was that Amy provided me with options, which I could choose based on my daughter and her needs. My Personalized Sleep Plan is amazing, I read through it once a week to keep the info fresh in my head; it helps to keep us on track, and reminds me of how small things make a big difference, and why schedules are so vital to small children and babies.”
The Baby Sleep Site: Briefly describe what the sleep coaching process was like for you. Was it all smooth sailing? Did you hit any bumps initially? Was there some trial-and-error at first?
Joanie: “When we started sleep coaching, it took some trial and error. I wanted to do a limited cry method because I was absolutely convinced that with a method like check and console, or extinction, that Gabby would cry uncontrollably for hours on end, and vomit everywhere. In the past, letting her cry never went well – after a few minutes she would get so worked up and vomit. I guess when I first tried at around 9 months, she still had an immature gag reflex. Well, the first night, I tried the Chair Method that was suggested by Amy, and Gabby was not having it! She was flipping out with me sitting there and not picking her up, so I decided to just rock her to sleep (it was getting late), and try again the next night.
The Baby Sleep Site: So it sounds like you needed to tweak things to account for Gabriela’s temperament and Amy suggested you try giving her some more space to learn her new skill. How did that go?
Joanie: “When 7 pm the next night rolled around, I was so afraid – my heart was racing, I’m not the biggest fan of vomit to be honest. But, I had to try something. I went through our usual routine, then put her down in the crib, and after 5 minutes of crying I checked in on her. She’d settle, then explode when I left. I kept true to it, going the 2nd time after 10 minutes; same thing as before, when I left, she exploded. The next check-in was set for 15 minutes, but at the 15 minute mark, she began to settle a bit – the crying became less intense, so I decided to wait it out for another 15 minutes to see what would happen. After all, she was crying in spurts – she was quiet for a couple minutes, then start again for a couple, settle, cry, etc. At 27 minutes after the last check, GABRIELA WAS SOUND ASLEEP! I couldn’t believe it. I went to bed that night, expecting to be up around 2 am for the usual settling, but when I rolled over to check the clock, I saw that it was 6:30 in the morning. I woke frantically and checked the movement monitor, and the video, the pendulum was swinging detecting movement, and after about 30 seconds, Gabby’s foot moved. SHE WAS OK, JUST SLEEPING PEACEFULLY! This was the first time in 7 months that she hadn’t woken at night. I was sold at this point.
The next night crying was less intense, and after 20 minutes she settled in. Each night thereafter, the crying got less and less. We had a couple of random nights where the crying would get intense again, but she figured it out and fell asleep. There are in fact many nights, now, where I put her down and she lays around playing with her blankie that she sleeps with, happily until she drifts off to sleep. So after some trial and error, with the support of my sleep consultant, we were able to find a solution that works well for my little tiger.”
The Baby Sleep Site: Please describe where you are today, sleep-wise, vs. where you were before contacting us for help. What progress have you made? What goals have you met? What impact has this progress had on your family?
Joanie: “Where are we today? Well, I’m no longer doing things like putting my brand new iPhone in the washing machine and washing it with my clothes, (yes I did this right before we started sleep coaching, and no, it didn’t survive), so that’s definitely a win for mom. On a serious note though, life has changed dramatically for all of us, including Gabby’s ‘big sister’ Olive Oil, who would panic every night when she’d hear Gabby crying at random times throughout. Going back to work soon, I am beyond grateful that I am able to get a full night’s sleep, as well as gained some much needed ‘me time,’ with the schedule Amy helped me plan. Before sleep coaching, I would be lucky to have her asleep by 8:00 p.m. (that was a ‘good night’) from starting at 6:30 p.m. Most nights it was close to 8:30 p.m. before she was asleep. She was overtired, and cranky, and would refuse to sleep no matter what I tried. She cried, I cried, Olive would pace and hide, it was awful! Once she was asleep, we’d get 4-6 hours of sleep, then be up every 1-2 hours until morning. Naps were no bargain either. It was torture getting her down, and some days she’d sleep for 45 minutes. Night wakings got so bad, that my husband changed his tour so he could be up with her at night, so I could get rest.
Sleep deprivation was horrible on me: my anxiety was through the roof, my patience wore short with everyone, and I was all around miserable. It got a little better when my husband was able to tend to Gabby during middle of the night wakings, but we had no quality family time at all. He’d get home around 1:00 a.m., stay up till around 4:30-5:00 a.m., long enough to put her back down again after the last time she’d wake, then be up at 2:00 p.m. to be at work at 4:00 p.m.. He never got to see Gabby, Olive Oil, or me for that matter.
Today, after almost a month, she is sleeping 11-12 hours at night without waking, she goes down to sleep at around 7:00 p.m., we start our routine at 6:30 p.m. still, and is in her crib by 6:50 p.m. She’ll roll around, play with her blankie and unwind on her own, and after 10-20 minutes, she falls asleep ALONE and HAPPY most nights. There have been a couple stray nights where she’d cry when I left, but that lasted no more than 5 minutes. She even says ‘nite nite’ when I get ready to leave. So as for our goals: she’s been sleeping through the night, going down quickly and happily, and not crying 99% of the time. I’d say this is a win! Due to the great success we are experiencing, my family is getting back to a place we want to be. I’m rested, and can function as a decent mom and wife, my husband is going back to the morning shift and will have more quality time with ‘his favorite girls’ – Gabriela and Olive Oil.”
The Baby Sleep Site: Please share some parting thoughts: what are your overall impressions of your experience with your consultant? Is this a service you think other tired parents would benefit from using? What words of encouragement and inspiration would you share with parents who are struggling with sleep?
Joanie: “All I can say is that Amy is like a magic sleep fairy! She was able to help me do what I never thought possible. I considered sleep consultation quite often in the 7 month period of sleeplessness, but always thought that my daughter would just grow out of it. I see now that was not the case. If you are struggling, ask for help! There is no shame in getting support. Being a parent is no easy task! When it is said that “it takes a village,” there is no doubt about that! Working with a Sleep Consultant changed our lives for the better. At a time when I thought I was destined to be a tired, confused mess who washes her brand new iPhone 6S in the washing machine with her laundry, I never would have thought that with some simple adjustments and guidance from people who really know about this stuff, that my life, my family’s lives, would be completely transformed. If you’re on the fence, take the plunge! There is an end in sight, even if you have a high spirited kid with pepper up her butt like mine! Be patient. Be consistent. You will be so much happier in the end. Wishing you good luck, and boatfuls of happy sleep ahead!”