by Rio Nassar
As a first-time mum, I was both excited and nervous about the new journey ahead – we couldn’t wait to meet our little miracle. However, while pregnant, one thing that shocked us was the amount of unsolicited advice we were given on a daily basis, the most common being “Enjoy your sleep now… because you will never sleep again”, which was generally followed by a high pitched banshee mocking laugh (I’m sure you all know what I’m talking about).
We were told ‘Enjoy your sleep now… because you will never sleep again!’
With that mind, we tried to prepare ourselves as much as possible for what lay ahead. We attended all the prenatal classes, read books and educated ourselves about the birth but to this day I really don’t feel like there is enough education out there for new parents when it comes to a baby’s sleep and what the lack of sleep can do to your mental state and a household.
Our beautiful baby boy Alexander was born on January 16 weighing 3.45kgs and he was just perfect. In fact, his first sleep after being delivered was 6 hours long and in my head, I was cockily thinking “I think we will have a good sleeper on our hands” BUT baby boy was I wrong!!
The first few weeks were fairly manageable at first as Alexander was still in his newborn sleepy state. We would let him sleep anywhere – the pram, couch, on me, on my husband, and any time I heard even a whimper from him I would pick up and rock him in my arms. However, once he woke up to the world, my husband and I got a very rude awakening too.
Alexander couldn’t fall asleep anywhere unless he was rocked or fed to sleep, even in the pram! I became so jealous of those mums walking around the shops with their sleeping baby in the pram. The only way I could achieve such a thing would be to rock him to sleep in my arms in the parent’s room for 20 minutes and then attempt “THE TRANSFER”. I’m sure you are all aware of how scary the transfer is? (It’s like putting a stick of dynamite to bed.) Even if that worked occasionally, he would then only make one sleep cycle and wake up!
My husband and I muddled through and tried to make things work, however some nights saw my husband rocking him for hours on end after multiple failed transfers.
Just when I thought it couldn’t get harder, the 4-month sleep regression hit, and it hit hard! He began waking up every 2 hours overnight for 5 weeks. So every 2 hours I would get him up, put him on the boob, he would fall asleep and then I would put him back in his bed and try and get as much sleep as possible before he woke again. I can honestly say I was spiralling into depression and my husband and I fought constantly as I was always on edge, tired, grumpy and crying.
I can honestly say I was spiralling into depression and my husband and I fought constantly as I was always on edge, tired, grumpy and crying.
We finally decided to seek help with a very well-known sleep consultant whom I won’t mention. I paid her $670 to come to my house for a home-consult and help my son learn how to sleep on his own and stay asleep – with no boob. We paid her for 3 hours and she stayed for 6 hours because he wouldn’t settle! I’m ashamed to admit I let him cry for 2.5 hours with her continually reassuring me it was normal. That said I ended up feeding him to sleep that night and she simply left saying “wow, he’s a very strong-willed baby”.
After this, I was at absolute breaking point but figured I just needed to come to terms with the fact that I had a bad sleeper. I tried to focus on being grateful that he was happy and healthy, however I did continue to google settling techniques and strategies.
I remembered someone mentioning an app called Wotbaby, explaining it was a godsend for them. I gave it a shot for a few days and surprisingly, saw an actual improvement with Alexander’s sleep – he started self-settling and not cat napping as much during the day. That said he was still waking every 2 hours overnight.
Eventually, I decided to contact Jen who is the creator and owner of Wotbaby and made arrangements to have a phone consult. OMJ!!! Aka Oh My Jen!!! I now consider her my guardian angel, my saving grace.
I spoke with her (in between tears) one Sunday about my situation and my concerns – the main concern being I didn’t want him to cry and I didn’t want to starve him overnight. She was confident it wasn’t hunger and more habit that was making him wake up every 2 hours because he didn’t know how to put himself back to sleep. He hadn’t learnt that skill yet and I wasn’t allowing him to learn it because every time he cried cause I would just put him on my boob.
She also explained that I needed to stop being afraid of his cry. A cry means different things to a child than it does to an adult. An adult has life experience and associates it with fear, heartbreak, pain, abandonment etc. To a child, it’s the only way they communicate so it can be anything from “I’m bored” to “I want to sleep but can’t”.
OMJ!! Aka Oh My Jen! I now consider her my guardian angel, my saving grace.
From there she gave me a routine to follow starting first thing Monday 7am. I followed her advice and that day he had all his naps in his cot and did 1-2 hour naps!! I was stoked. But as night approached, I became very nervous – the plan was that I had to resettle every time he woke up with no boob and no picking up! The plan was to go into his room at intervals and reassure him, telling him it was time for bed.
Come 6pm I put him down awake and he was asleep within 10 mins … but then woke up 2 hours later (as usual). The first time took 1hr10 of resettling with no boob but he fell asleep. The next wake took 55 mins. Then 45 mins. Then 30 mins and then 15 mins. Jen was with me via text message, helping me along the way.
Before I knew it, it was 6am and my boobs were going to explode!! But we made it – a whole night with no night feeds! I was convinced when I walked into his room and wished him good morning that he would hate me, but he laughed and smiled at me. He is now getting that beautiful restorative sleep he was missing for so long, as am I. My husband’s sleep remains the same due to his useless nipples!
For all those mums out there, be it first-time or even 3rd or 4th, if your baby just doesn’t sleep and you don’t know what to do, I would highly recommend Jen from Wotbaby. A phone consult with her is so worth it! Knowing she herself has 3 children, 30+ years of experience as a mothercraft nurse, plus the changes I’d seen just from using her Wotbaby App, I felt confident we’d get results this time. She has also written a “Baby Bible” which she sells on her website – it’s an amazing reference point and provides a guide for 0-12 months and includes everything from sleep, to solids, teething, regressions etc.
As a first-time mum, the whole experience of putting my child to sleep left me constantly anxious and in tears most days. However, thanks to the life-changing service Jen provided we now have the knowledge to approach each day with confidence. She really listened to our issues and wasn’t simply applying “textbook” techniques that should work on every child. She listened to our issues in-depth and was able to be professional whilst also applying a personal touch, which instantly made me feel less anxious and as such we were able to see a major improvement within the first 24 hours of speaking to her. My son has continued to fall asleep on his own and sleep all the way through as has done for the 2 months now!! No wakes. No boob!
Jen has offered Ryde District Mums a special for all of September – 10% off phone consults ($30 off) – to access this great offer contact her via her website and mention Ryde District Mums!