I’ve shared my story of going from a sleep-stressed mama to a sane one before, but I thought it would be helpful to share the story of another mama that I worked with. Sowmya was a client who became a friend in the process of our working together — something that’s not uncommon with my clients. In her own words, she shares the before, during, and after of sleep training, and she lets you know all about her experience working with me. If you’ve ever been curious about the whole sleep training/sleep consultant thing, read on to hear what Sowmya has to say! :)
I contacted Ashley on a rainy morning, and as we spoke, I couldn’t hold back my tears. Up until then, it had felt that no one was listening to me and my husband, or perhaps that everyone could listen, but no one could really hear us.
The truth was — my baby did not know how to sleep, and we needed help to get her to learn how to. It seemed like we had tried everything, but nothing worked. However, we had a big cross-country move coming up, and had no option but to wait before we could work with Ashley.
Sufi was born one month premature and weighed 1.86 kgs [4 lbs 2 oz]. The first month had gone by fairly smoothly, but as soon as Sufi turned a month old, we started facing some problems. There would come a time in the late afternoon when Sufi would start crying. The intensity would rise gradually, and at about 6pm, she was inconsolable and crying constantly.
Most evenings involved me sitting on an exercise ball, bouncing repeatedly in an effort to calm this tiny baby down. When this did not work, we would try the hairdryer (Harry, we even named him). Some evenings nothing worked. Bouncing around the house, pram [stroller] walks, drives. Nothing. Exhausted at about 10pm, she would fall asleep in my arms, and exhausted myself, I would sink into bed too, with Sufi co-sleeping with us.
Gradually, she grew out of the colic phase, but what we were left with was a baby who had no idea how to sleep. Nap and bedtimes were so stressful — Our knees began to hurt from all the rocking, our days went by in a blur. Nothing made sense anymore.
Before contacting Ashley, we had tried to sleep train her on our own, but as new parents, bewildered and sleep starved, figuring out the math of sleep training and calibrating the emotional aspects of it was more than we could handle.
Finally, it came time for us to move, and soon after, I contacted Ashley again. It felt like a fresh start, and I just knew that Ashley was the right person to trust my baby with. From our first call, I had sensed that Ashley was a compassionate person. And after a long, cathartic Skype chat and the subsequent weeks of working with her on Sufi’s sleep, I felt like she became a friend. Ashley has tremendous knowledge, but she is also very empathetic. This is what I believe separates her from other sleep consultants that I have interviewed. It helps that she has been right where you are with her daughter — she really knows the desperation sleeplessness can lead to. She always has your and your baby’s back.
On night 3, Sufi slept through the night. I woke up periodically in a haze and kept checking the monitor. How did this happen? How was my baby capable of this? With each passing night, I let myself believe what was happening. Sufi, who could not sleep unless rocked, was now sleeping 12 hours straight through the night. Harry was packed away. We started having couple dinners again, some nights even watched a show on Netflix.
Ashley and I shared a Google spread sheet where we would track Sufi’s sleep. While Sufi caught on quickly with her night sleep, her naps were still not on track. Prior to sleep training, she would nap for just 35 mins and had trouble going beyond one sleep cycle. We were breaking this habit and she was taking time to catch on. The most important thing we could do to help her was stay consistent and provide her with reliable routines. On the tough days, Ashley would leave me encouraging notes in our shared Google sheet. She never pushed me into anything I wasn’t comfortable with, and she always had room for my thoughts. Through the time that we worked together, Ashley was making fine tweaks in Sufi’s schedule and giving her time to catch up, while staying patient and encouraging me to do the same.
You could say that in many ways she life coached me during a tough time in my parenting journey. As a mom, it’s difficult to watch your baby try to learn something and not immediately get that hang of it. Ashley understands that sentiment, and as someone who has been down in the trenches with nap sleep, she knew all too well what I was going through. Just having my feelings validated felt so good.
As of today, this is how my 10-month-old Sufi sleeps:
6:40am - Wake up for the day
9:00-10:30am - Nap 1
1:00-3:00pm - Nap 2
6:15pm - Bedtime
This feels like the best phase of motherhood for me. I want to savour every minute of it. To think that I had come into this thinking that maybe I am not meant to be parent!
Ashley would always tell me, “Hang in there, it is going to be worth it.”
I’m so glad I listened.
If Sowmya’s “before” experience sounds a lot like yours, and you’d like your “after” experience to sound a lot like hers, check out my packages and see if there’s one that sounds like a good fit for you. If you still have additional questions, ask away in the comments!