Sleep Lessons Learned By Stephanie, Our Newest Sleep Consultant
Hello, my name is Stephanie Nielsen! I’m so excited to be a part of the Bella Luna team as a child sleep consultant and to share sleep lessons I learned that brought me to this amazing career!
I’m a girl mom to 3 amazing girls (7, 4 and 4 months), and they are amazing sleepers!
But it was NOT always like that.
A Little About My Story
When I became a mom for the first time, I had NO IDEA that sleep didn’t just “happen”. Prenatal classes didn’t address sleep and I didn’t think to read about it! I thought the baby would go to sleep when I put her to sleep. Ha! I was so wrong.
Everything was going ok up until about 4 months of age. That’s when things went downhill and went downhill pretty quickly.
Cora started taking F-O-R-E-V-E-R to fall asleep and stay asleep. I’m talking 2 to 5-hour rock-a-thons. You know the rocking until they are OUT (or so you think!), lay the baby down so gently while maneuvering your arm out so as not to wake them and ever so slowly creeeeeeeeep out of the room only to have her wake up crying minutes after I left the room.
This happened again and again and again. After she would finally be “out” for a few hours she would wake up to eat and then she would be up every hour after that.
We didn’t notice it right away as an issue, I’d rock for an hour, creep out she would wake up, then my husband would take over. It started taking longer and longer every night. I found myself getting angry with my husband. In my tired state, I thought he was…
- too loud and causing her to wake up
- closing the door too loud
- walking too loud (ridiculous I know, how do you walk “loud” on carpet?)
- not laying her down correctly
It was his fault that she wasn’t sleeping! 😂 Did I mention I was exhausted?
Trying To Figure It Out
He kept saying “something needs to change we can’t do this anymore.”
He never had any solutions – he just kept saying we can’t do this anymore.
But what could we do?
We were both working full time and exhausted. My husband traveled quite a bit for his job so a lot of it was on me.
As a millennial, of course I did some googling. What I found was a lot of conflicting, overwhelming information to sift through, like…
- Let her cry, don’t let her cry
- Have her sleep with me
- Nurse to sleep
- Bottle feed before bed to fill her belly
- Give her a dream feed
- Bounce her instead
- Continue to rock her – she’ll only be little once
Whenever we tried to apply advice, we didn’t do consistently and if it didn’t work right away, we just gave up.
The Turning Point
One night, THE night, I came out after my “turn” and I said (or yelled, maybe screamed?!) to my husband “oh my god I can’t do this anymore!”
Then he said and I quote “we’re doing everything wrong”! Ooo! That hit a nerve!
“What do you mean WE are doing everything wrong???”
While I was on my long shift of rocking, he became an instant expert by reading a mommy blog. He decided we were doing everything wrong and we should hire a sleep consultant to help us.
We are *not* hiring anyone to help us get our daughter to sleep. What a waste of money.
Before he went in to rock her for his turn, he sent me the blog. I read it and reluctantly agreed with him. By the time we had been rocking for five hours that night, I agreed with him 100% that we needed some help. That night, we filled out the contact form for the sleep consultant from the blog.
We filled out our intake form, set our meeting and we were both SO excited to have this change for our family. When we talked to our consultant, she explained how many naps Cora should be taking and when she should be taking those naps. She also talked to us about what approach we would use and what would make us feel comfortable in teaching Cora to fall asleep on her own.
She was empathetic, nonjudgmental and knowledgeable which felt reassuring. I was so excited to get our personalized plan for Cora!
Our consultant could have told us to sprinkle glitter in our yard on a full moon and jump backward 10 times, we would have done it to get Cora to sleep! We were all so tired!
We got our plan, and everything was detailed for us. When to put Cora to bed, how to use the approach we talked about, how many naps she should get and at what times. As a sleep-deprived, full-time working Mom, it was so helpful to have something laid out for me to follow. I was too tired to try to figure it out on my own.
Sleep Lessons Learned
I realized there was so much about sleep I didn’t know, like babies…
- Show sleepy cues, like turning their heads side to side, pulling on ears, zoning out, yawning and rubbing their eyes. If I missed these cues, Cora would get overtired which would make sleep even more challenging.
- Need A LOT of sleep, a lot more than Cora was getting.
- Do best with a much earlier bedtime. We were putting her to bed when we went to bed, causing her to become overtired, making it hard for her to fall asleep and stay asleep.
- May appear to be awake at night, but if I rushed in too soon, if she wasn’t truly awake, I would fully wake her and the rocking cycle would begin again.
Our sleep consultant also explained that once we started the plan, we needed to stay consistent in our approach. If we weren’t consistent this wouldn’t work.
We started on a Friday night. It took three nights for sleep to improve for EVERYONE. By Monday, Cora was going to sleep independently and staying asleep!
Naps took a little longer – they always do. I was glad that we had the ability to communicate with our sleep consultant for support through the sleep training process.
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And Everyone Lived Happily Ever After
At first, I felt ashamed that we had hired a sleep consultant to help us. I felt like I failed as a mother that we needed this help. What I didn’t realize is how much sleep impacted our entire family and how everyone’s mood improved, especially mine, once we were all better rested!
I wasn’t so quick to snap at my husband. Our relationship improved. I felt like we could get a babysitter to watch Cora because now it was easy to put her to sleep. Motherhood became a lot more fun and manageable!
After a few years of successfully giving advice to friends, family and strangers on Facebook from the sleep lessons I learned, I decided it was time to help families achieve what I had! I could relate to those parents that were struggling. I’ve been through it!
I graduated from the Family Sleep Institute’s child sleep consultant program in 2019 and have been helping families every since, including my own! I’ve learned A LOT more than those original sleep lessons I learned! I’d love to help your family if you are struggling with sleep and need a supportive, non-judgmental guide on your parenting journey. I help families with newborns through 6 years of age.
To learn more, please reach out to say hello and let’s start the process of getting your entire more sleep!
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