In July I contacted the lovely Carmel from Calm Babies to help Poppy and I with sleep training.
In short, I was up some nights almost every hour feeding Poppy back to sleep, if I was only up twice I considered that a 'good' night. Day naps weren't much better, I would feed her to sleep and then put her down in her cot, it was always hit or miss if she was going to stay asleep or burst out crying when I put her down, usually the latter. I was so anxious about it all that I was always getting her to sleep in the car because I knew it worked and when I pulled up at home I could have some 'me' time. Also, when it was really bad I would walk her for two naps a day. My body was beyond sore, I was mentally and physically exhausted.
We were in desperate need of help, I didn't know where to start or what to do. I came across someone recommending Carmel on a Facebook group of all places. I filled out this contact form and wasn't really sure what to expect, when Carmel rang and we had a chat I just wanted to cry! Happy tears of course! I felt so comfortable with her because she is SO lovely! In that first conversation I knew that she cared and that I was in good hands.
We started a couple of weeks later and Poppy responded really well. I was nervous at first that Pop would be too strong for me to settle, but she loved it! The nights were hard, I am not going to lie. I was more tired than ever because instead of just bringing her to bed with me and feeding her to sleep I had to get up and settle and this took 1.5-2 hours, and some nights twice! I persevered and by night 5 she slept through! And then continued to do so until she was sick a few weeks later. WOW! For the first time in months I got 8 hours sleep every night. It took about a week of good rest and I didn't feel tired anymore. Bliss!
I can never thank Carmel enough for how she has helped me, my partner, and Poppy. We all get good sleep and it's so important! I think we were all suffering in our own way and now we are much happier. I could also never make plans with people, I would be like "OK I will have to see how our morning pans out and let you know a time tomorrow." and now with a routine I can say to people "Sure, tomorrow is great how does midday sound?" It's the little things like that, that have had the biggest impact. Routine is amazing! And even though we bunkered down at home for a while, I felt more freedom than ever. James and I even got to watch movies together at night, and also go out for dinner alone!
I'm really keen to talk about this openly because I want people to know there is help out there, and that you are definitely not alone! If you want to talk more please feel free to contact me for support at firstname.lastname@example.org, and don't hesitate to contact Carmel on this link here.
I have also asked Carmel some questions which I have posted below. A lot of people when talking to me about sleep training mentioned their fears so I wanted to bring some light into how it all works, and why sleep is so important.
What made you want to do what you do?
I became very passionate about helping new parents after observing the long waiting lists for sleep school. When you're in hospital after the birth of your baby the focus is predominantly breastfeeding and very little focus about the importance of establishing a "feed, play, sleep" routine for your baby.
What are most mums biggest fears before starting the Calm Babies program?
Most mums are scared their baby won't respond to a sleep program.
Why is it so important babies sleep?
Babies grow when they sleep. Babies who sleep well also feed well and are happier during their awake time.
And why is it so important for mums (and dads) to get good sleep?
It is important to sleep well so you have the energy to look after your baby and also to be able to function properly during the day. Parents who work need to be able to concentrate when they are at work too! Sleep deprivation is a form of torture. It can make you feel really down if you don't get enough sleep. It could also put you at risk of post natal depression.
How quickly should someone expect to see results from the program?
It can take between 3-5 days to see a difference and up to 21 days to retrain old sleep habits.
A lot of people think working with a sleep consultant or doing a sleep program is 'crying it out' which it definitely isn't!! Can you elaborate on the difference between CIO and the calm babies technique?
The "cry it out" method is when you leave your baby to cry on their own and you don't go back into the room until they are asleep.
The method I use is responsive settling, which means "responding to your baby's needs". My approach is gentle and I always work within a parent's comfort level to establish a routine that works for their family. This is done without judgement and taking into consideration personal beliefs.
Photos by Melissa Findley.