The content below was partially reblogged from Aurora’s personal blog, Dispatches from the Castle.
Readers, meet Aurora! She’s a lovely mama and blogger who shares her thoughts over at Dispatches From The Castle. She was also, up until a few months ago, very sleep-deprived! Aurora was struggling to get her darling daughter sleeping soundly at night; after scouring all the sleep coaching literature she could find and coming up short, she turned to The Baby Sleep Site® for help — specifically, she picked up an Express Sleep Plan®. Keep reading to hear more about Aurora’s experience using The Baby Sleep Site®‘s Express Sleep Plan®!
Meet Aurora, and Hear Her Express Sleep Plan® Story
So, Aurora, tell us what brought you to The Baby Sleep Site® initially?
Well, my daughter always went to bed easily. We’ve done the exact same routine in the exact same way since she was about a month old. Until she was about six months old, she slept well for her age and only got up when she was hungry. Then she started teething and it was a downhill slide. Before we really knew what happened I was sleeping with her on the nursery floor and up with her every hour. She was hungry and tired and generally cranky. I was a zombie.
I went to the library and checked out every recommended book. I spent what time I could between working, caring for A and not sleeping reading the books. All of them emphasized a going to bed routine and a strict daily schedule that was geared toward women who were home with their babies during the day (Thanks for the extra guilt sleep experts!).
Oh, that sounds frustrating!
It was. I cried. Those weren’t the issues! She was going to bed well and even when she did fight it, she went to sleep in less than 30 minutes from the time we started bedtime. Plus, she’s at school which means she’s on a schedule and since she wasn’t sleeping, it seemed counter intuitive to continue to add to her sleep debt and overtired state.
Most of the books recommended some version of Cry It Out. With A, CIO didn’t work for us. She’d get so riled up and mad that she was mad and crying that she’d eventually throw up. Given her other issues, very quickly this became a non-negotiable, not-going-to-work for us option.
Finally, we reached a new low for all of us. Baby A was sleeping on the floor in the office with me and while she wasn’t eating all night like she used to, she was getting up at least four times a night. But I was conscious enough to notice that as she stirred, she would start to spin around while still asleep and then sit up, still mostly asleep. She would fold herself in half a few times to try to go back to sleep. Then she would cry and need comforting. She was trying to self soothe but didn’t know how, and I didn’t know how to help her.
So was that new low your turning point? Was that when you decided to take action?
Yes! I caved and bought an Express Sleep Plan from The Baby Sleep Site. I’d done a lot of research and this seemed like a good starting place for us. The initial investment was less than dinner and a movie. I was nervous and concerned that it would be like all the other recommendations and either impossible to implement or would force us to start weaning her (which we can’t do for health reasons at this point).
With my first log in, I stopped being concerned. The questionnaire we filled out asked questions specific to A and allowed us to include her school schedule (bottles, food, naps) and her nursing schedule for consideration. Only after seeing our specific plan, did I realize implementing this plan would make things go smoother at school for her and her teachers! As everyone espouses, babies thrive on routine.
That night we put the plan in place. She went to bed as usual, but now that I had a definition of awake but drowsy (thanks to the Express Sleep Plan), I put her in her crib earlier than I typically would and started implementing our specific sleep phrase.
She went to sleep easily that night and for a few hours slept soundly. Plus, I now had an actionable plan that I could turn into a checklist, complete with if/then statements so J could be an active participant.
Oh, wow – that’s awesome! You must have been so relieved.
I called my parents after putting her down and my dad said, “Best money you’ve ever spent.” It was as true that night as it was last night! In just two weeks, we went from A being up four times a night to just two. In the last two days, we’ve moved her wake up time from 5:30 a.m. to 7 a.m. at the earliest. I’ve gotten at least one solid REM Cycle for two nights in a row. Last night was a record, I slept from 11:39 p.m. until she got up at 1:57 a.m. It’s not quite the five plus hours at a time I used to get, but after 15 months of little sleep, it’s pretty amazing.
Fantastic! But then you had some backsliding, right?
As usual, life happened. We moved into our dream house and of course expected sleep regression. The house was filled with new sights, sounds, smells and was probably pretty unnerving. I figured we would go back to the flexible part of the plan and see what happened.
Less than 24 hours after we arrived at the new house, my daughter got sick. Really sick. Emergency Room sick. Because she was so miserable, it meant any sleep training was out the window. We regressed back to at least three wake ups and snacks a night.
Then our family took another very unexpected blow when my father in law died. It was devastating. My daughter, my husband, and I relied heavily on the support of our family and friends for the next few days.
A week and a half after the move, I got walking pneumonia.
In truth, it was a long downhill slide after our initial progress.
Oh my goodness, your family has been through so much! How awful. This kind of sleep backsliding is so frustrating. But also so normal, of course. These kinds of “speed bumps” crop up often! So what happened next?
Once my daughter was feeling better, we started re-implementing the Express Sleep Plan with the ultimate goal of her waking up and needing comfort one or zero times a night.
We were making very good progress, until a few days later when she realized she could throw all of the blankets and all of the pacifiers out of her crib when she was mad! I’m sure it made her feel temporarily in control, but once she realized all of her comfort items were now out of her reach, she became even more upset.
The very next day, we limited comfort nursing to once a night. I would still go in if she cried for more than 10 minutes (or threw all of the blankets out). After a few nights, we came up with the strategy of adding a total of five pacifiers and three blankets to her crib at night. Within a few days after that, we were making significant progress!
Since then, my daughter has averaged waking up just once a night, even though she’s had a terrible head and chest cold.
That’s great, Aurora – you achieved your goal! We love celebrating successes like this.
We know sleep will always be a work in progress with my daughter, and we will always have to monitor her sleep and schedule, but knowing we have a plan that works makes us confident. Even when she isn’t feeling well, we can make sure she gets the rest she needs.
There you go, readers. By spending less than the cost of dinner and a movie out (as she put it!), Aurora got a custom sleep coaching plan immediately — and most importantly, it worked. You can have sleep coaching success, too; you can finally solve your child’s nighttime or nap time waking problems, and regain your sleep AND your sanity!