Getting our Baby to Sleep!

Why We Hired a Sleep Coach!

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Well, I debated sharing this post…. because honestly, I don’t feel like I should be giving anyone any “parenting” advice! I’m only 11 months into this journey, and I still don’t know much considering what is lying ahead! We have years and years of learning about how to care for our babies, and I’m sure I’ll look back a few years from now and read this post and think “Whew! I didn’t have a clue back then!”. However, I decided to go ahead and share this part of our life because it has been a huge turning point for us and Evy. The decisions we made and the results that have come from them have relieved a lot of stress and have given us a lot of peace! So, naturally, I want to share our experience in case others can benefit!

Let me start by saying this…..

We don’t have a perfect life. It’s really quite hilarious what we’ve heard from some people online. They think our house is spotless, when I constantly show toys everywhere and dishes piled up in the sink. Some think that Evy is the perfect child, even though I’ve shared multiple times that she can be quite the screamer and her first year has definitely not been a walk in the park (remember THIS? and the ER visit for the unknown virus? and the multiple hip braces she spent months in?). Every family walks through their own journey full of highlights and valleys. There are unpleasant aspects of our life that you’ll never hear about because they don’t need to be shared on the internet!! So please, anyone who has fallen into the category of believing that people have perfect lives, I’m telling you right now, that is a lie and it will ALWAYS be a lie. The sooner you stop believing that lie, the sooner you can start loving the life that you have!

Ok, now that that’s out of the way, I’ll start at the beginning.

Evy slept through the night pretty much the week after we brought her home from the hospital. I know, we were blessed with sleep those first few months, and we were so proud of our girl! The doctor said “If you have a big, chunky baby, chances are, she may sleep really well and not need to wake up and eat!” and that was true! (The downside was the fact that I delivered an almost 10lb baby! yikes!)

Evy slept through the night until we found out that she had hip dysplasia and 7 days later was placed in a Pavlik Harness. She went from sleeping on her stomach (which she LOVED) to sleeping on her back with her legs hanging in the air because of the shape of the harness. We went from having a baby who slept 7-8 hours straight to a baby waking up every hour and a half. It was a shock. The first night she laid in bed beside me, and I would try to comfort her and get her back to sleep as soon as she screamed. Sometimes it worked, other times I had to nurse her. It was a long night of almost no sleep for both of us! Eventually she learned to sleep 4-5 hours straight despite the restricting harness.

She was about 5 months old when we were in the midst of this phase, and I saw other 5 month olds learning to roll over. I knew her situation would delay her a bit and I was ok with that… but what made me so sad was knowing that she was such a great sleeper until we strapped her into this awful contraption!!! Our hearts ached for her. She couldn’t readjust herself in the middle of the night, and she couldn’t reach to find her paci easily. She was just stuck in the position that we laid her down in!

We eventually found the Cubby Cove, which is a knock off of a Dock-a-tot, and it helped so much! Her little legs rested on the end of it so that they weren’t dangling in the air! Then we realized that her flailing arms were waking her up, and so we found JUST an arm swaddle on Amazon and that helped too! See below….

So she was KIND OF sleeping through the night and we were thankful… considering the circumstances! But naps were another story. We dreaded them. They were really non-existent and most of them ended with someone rocking her to sleep and holding her. Sometimes I could nurse her and she would pass out and not wake up during the “transfer”, but once she hit 8-9 months, she was too alert. It was impossible.

I knew what she needed. She needed to learn how to put herself to sleep and self-soothe. The time span when most babies learn how to do that was right when she was getting into her brace, and we did everything we could just to make her comfortable. If that meant rocking her for an hour in her nursery to get a nap in, that’s what we would do. We knew it wasn’t practical, and we knew something needed to change. Thankfully, she got out of her Rhino Brace at 9 months!! We were hopeful that because she had the freedom to turn over, and move and stretch out that she would start falling asleep easily! That was NOT the case! It was the exact opposite!

What had happened was that Evy was dependent on a lot of different things to not only put her to sleep, but also to keep her asleep!

She needed to nurse.

She needed to be held.

She needed her paci.

She needed to not wake up during the transfer from the rocking chair to the crib!

UGH. We had created a little sleep monster!

And you know what’s funny and humbling? We were TOTALLY the “We read Baby Wise and that’s definitely what we’re doing!” parents BEFORE she was born! Well, life situations have a way of changing your well-intentioned plans. We could have been harder on her and done more sleep training when she was struggling in her brace but honestly, we were just trying to survive and keep her comfortable…. and I’m such a softy. I hated that she had to wear that thing! I’m thankful it worked and that we avoided surgery!!! … But I babied her when she was in both the harness and then the brace.

So November rolls around. NOW what do we do?!?!?! I’m PREGNANT! And I’m exhausted! And my 10 month old won’t nap and sometimes wakes up at 4:30 or 5am!

We tried “cry it out” for a week.

Most babies cry for an hour or two…. then the next night it’s better… and better… and then they get it! Right? Oh, not Evy. That girl could scream her head off for FOUR HOURS STRAIGHT!!! Oh, it was miserable.

It was a Sunday afternoon in December after spending 90 minutes watching her scream on the monitor and refuse to take a nap that I decided enough was enough. Tyler and Ashley had filmed a course for a woman named Becca, who is a Pediatric Sleep Consultant and I set up a 15 minute call with her to see if she could help us.

Michael and I have a life coach and it has been transformational for our marriage and our life in general. We’re not opposed to asking for help and if there is anything that you take away from this, it’s that asking for help can be such a freeing thing!! It’s humbling to tell someone “I can’t get my own baby to SLEEP…. will you help me?!”…. but I’m so glad I set up that call, because our life looks A LOT different these days!

I believe we began the process around December 12th. We’re right at a month since our first night with Evy’s new sleep routine, and I am SO EXCITED to share that she has slept 10-12 hours STRAIGHT for almost a month now. Yayy!!! When Becca told me that was possible, I kind of laughed…. because Evy had NEVER slept that long! Ever!!! Well, she now sleeps that long every single night. She’ll wake up and then lay herself right back down. It’s wonderful!

Naps took a while longer. Becca said we would need a month to fully see the nap routine become a reoccuring reality, and she was right! I’m currently writing this while Evy is sleeping for her second nap of the day… and it’s been over an hour and a half since we laid her down! Amazing!

Bedtime has been wonderful since the start of the routine. She just gets it, and I’m so thankful! Naps were a struggle. Even Becca shared that Evy was a tough egg to crack. The normal routine and approach to naps didn’t work for her. It took almost a full month for her to sleep 2.5 hours during the day. However, it was well worth the wait!! Michael puts her down for naps, and it’s the most amazing thing to see her cry on the monitor for a couple of minutes and then flop over and put herself to sleep!!!

Teaching her to sleep during the day wasn’t easy. We had a lot of days that included lots of what Becca calls “protesting”, and we would just PRAY that she would get it! One Sunday after church, I’ll never forget, Michael put her down and she immediately laid her head down. I bawled watching the monitor, because I was just so happy that SHE GOT IT!!!!!

The most encouraging thing that Becca told us was that Evy was READY for this. She NEEDED to learn to sleep like this for developmental reasons, and WE needed her to sleep like this in order to get our life back!!!

I know that every child is VERY different…. but for Evy, these are some things we learned:

  • Her room needed to be pitch black! No light at all!
  • She needed a routine that mentally prepared her that bedtime was happening in a few steps! It’s amazing how well this worked!
  • She ditched the paci on night one…. completely! and she never looked back! I think that made a huge difference throughout the night.
  • She doesn’t need us to go in to “comfort” her after 15-20mins of crying, that made it so much worse!!!
  • She can go down at 7:30 pm and sleep until 7 or 7:30am!!!!

I didn’t realize how much I was stressing over this part of our life. Every night I dreaded bed time. It was like it was up to me to miraculously lay her down without waking her up and if she woke up, it was a nightmare! I knew we couldn’t keep doing things the way we were doing them during the day, and we weren’t able to get anything done!

So what’s the moral of the story? Don’t be afraid to ask for help. There are a lot of resources out there for our generation! It’s easy to think “Well, my parents didn’t have to hire a sleep coach!” or “Our best friends didn’t hire a sleep coach! Their baby just eventually figured it out!”.  Both of those statements are true in my life. My sister didn’t hire a sleep coach either and Micah took a three hour nap today! It’s not a need for everyone….but if it’s a need for you, don’t be afraid to inquire and do what’s right for your family. There really is a lot at stake! Our home is so much more peaceful because we have a baby who knows her sleep routine and can put herself to sleep!

We had some very unique circumstances that played a huge part in Evy’s sleep issues and we didn’t realize how much our choices early on in Evy’s life (and during her hip brace phase) would affect us down the road.  However, we’re so thankful for the season we’re in now. So if you’re struggling in this area with your little guy or girl…. whether they are 4 months or 4 years old… there is hope! :)

Becca has had a rush of new clients recently since we’ve been mentioning our experience on Instagram and most of those clients are moms who work from home! If you’re desperate for some time to yourself during the day, setup a call with her!!

This isn’t a sponsored post of any kind, we just really love getting to watch movies at 8pm and having time to do emails in the afternoon. It’s changed our life, and I hope by us sharing our experience it will help others!!

Thanks for reading!

— Katelyn

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