Have you heard of the frog in boiling water analogy? Hypothetically, if you throw a frog in boiling water it will jump out, knowing the water is too hot and unsafe. But, if you put the frog in while the water is cool and slowly heat it up, the frog will never realize the water has reached a dangerous temperature and will meet his demise.
A few weeks ago, I was a frog boiling in water. Completely and utterly sleep deprived, I was a zombie at work and struggling through long blinks on my work commute. My milk supply was waning, even though I wanted to continue nursing and pumping for a few more months. My 11 month old twin boys’ sleep regression turned into a sleep hiatus and they were literally going to kill me with the overnight wake-ups. How did we get here?!
Think I’m being dramatic? When does a slow-blink become falling asleep at the wheel? Whose life is more valuable, mine or the other parent I might hit on the road? Alternatively, most nights we were bed-sharing with the boys in an attempt to get ANY sleep, but not following safe-sleep guidelines. It was clear I was going to hurt myself, someone else, or both.
But I’m a crunchy momma who holds strong in her convictions. Attachment parenting is important to me, but takes extra effort given the daily time away from my kids. For example, I believe when a baby cries they ought to be responded to with urgency. When it comes to nighttime crying, I’ve always happily responded since I’m home and able to be there for my babies. “Sleep training” or “cry-it-out” were not in my vocabulary and admittedly the one thing I silently judged other parents about.
I knew I was reaching a breaking point and have the Google search history to prove it. I scoured the internet looking for something, any technique, that would get my boys to sleep. We tried anything and EVERYTHING (except you-know-what). We were white-knuckling it through life. Imagine life in gray-scale; food lacks flavor, you know things are funny, but you don’t have the will to laugh. I knew I wasn’t depressed, just bone-tired!
Enter my pumping Podcast routine. City Moms Blog Podcast Episode 6 featured a sleep consultant and I made sure to listen immediately. Suddenly, I was a frog jumping out of the boiling water! The episode helped me to understand the misconceptions around those dreaded words and that there are dozens of other techniques to help kids sleep. Genuine cry-it-out is probably the most extreme and rarely used. This boosted my confidence in reaching out for professional help. I wondered, is there a sleep consultant near me?
And that’s exactly what I Googled, “sleep consultant near me.” Within hours, I hired a sleep consultant.
I’m a very analytical person and love to learn, I need to know the “why” on everything. We were educated us on infant and child sleep. Things Google did NOT tell me! Our consultant also took a detailed inventory of all the things we had already attempted, our sleep goals, sleep environment, bedtime routines, and apprehensions about a sleep plan.
Our goal was simple: both boys sleeping in their individual cribs, in their room, most/all of the night with as little crying as possible.
Our consultant had her work cut out for her! But she delivered; a seven page plan with detailed instructions and a sleep log shared via Google Docs so she could easily review each morning and offer real-time feedback. Because our boys are much older than when most people begin a sleep plan, our’s was a timed interval method, similar to what some people call “ferberization.” She prescribed a plan with our input, values, and schedule in mind. She boosted our confidence with knowledge and accountability, and gave us the tools to do the hard thing, like hearing your baby cry sometimes.
Can I admit to you I was skeptical? Even though I was paying for this service I had doubts; we had tried everything, or so I thought!
I’m happy to tell you that our consultant and our sleep plan far exceeded any expectation of progress I had hoped to make. I can’t share too many details about our plan because it truly is individual to each family, based on a child’s age, sleep goal and schedule. BUT we saw improvement almost immediately and continued progress since. Our goal was achieved, glory glory!
Additionally, I began to notice other changes. My kids were happier!! I didn’t think they were unhappy…just teething, or hungry, or whatever, all the time. Turns out they were also sleep deprived. My milk supply bounced back. I enjoyed them more! At the end of each night I finally had some time to myself, I was able to recharge and my resentment over missing sleep has melted. We could reset for the next day, I could reconnect with my husband (and DVR!) The laundry mountains turned into lumps, and dinner was mostly homemade, not from a box.
I’m thankful we jumped out of the boiling water, but a little disappointed we didn’t do it sooner. We are a much happier and healthy family!