Sleep School Survivors
I have daydreamed about your first day of school. You’ll be 5 years old, we’ll get up early, I’ll do your hair, we’ll have a big breakfast and then your Dad and I will walk you through the gates to drop you off.
Well Rosie, your first day of school actually happened whenyou were 6 months old.
“What sort of genius baby am I?”, I hear you ask.
Sorry Rosie girl, as clever as we think you are, this school was a different kind of school. This was a school for party babies, babies who like to walk on the wild side of life, babies who don’t like to follow the rules… this dear Rosie… was Sleep School.
When you were 10 weeks old you loved sleep more than yourdear old Mum loves sweet chilli and sour cream Red Rock deli chips. And we knowthat’s a lot. You began sleeping through the night and we all thought we hadthis sleeping thing nailed. We naively told people you were a good sleeper whenthey asked, proudly stating you loved a good nap and had given your dear oldMum and Dad a slice of their life back.
It’s funny how much brighter the sun is when you’ve had 5-7hours of sleep in a row. I was more productive, 100% a nicer person to thegeneral public and the sight of your Dads face wasn’t even bothering me. Infact, I actually liked him again.
As quickly as blissful sleep was offered, it vanished fasterthan Human Natures debut album flew off the shelves in 1996 (I will teach youabout HN when you’re old enough to appreciate CLASSIC Australian acapellastyling)
We had hit the 4month sleep regression.
The morning you turned 4 months old, we unknowingly createda perfect storm that will haunt your Dad and I for the rest of our lives.
Allin the space of 48 hours, you began teething, you had your 4-month needles, yougot your first cold and you simply stopped sleeping. I still get shivers up myback when I say all of those things at the same time. People kept telling me Iwas insane, that there was no way you were teething. Unfortunately for themthere was a dead give-away. Teeth.
Gorgeous girl you needed us more than normal during thiscomedy of errors and called out to us almost every 45 minutes from 2am. Thisparty schedule lasted on and off for 6 weeks.
So what did I do? Handle it with grace and maturity? Dealwith the sudden change as calmly and logically as possible? Not my style. I hada total ‘Britney 2007’ meltdown. Suddenly food tasted bland, the sun hid behinddarkened clouds and not even the smooth sounds of a Human Nature/John Farnhammedley could bring me out of the funk.
We read books, watched online tutorials, spoke with lovedones, trialled earlier bed times and later wake ups, but none of this helpedyou sleep. It was time to bring out the big guns. We needed Sleep School and weneeded it now.
In case you grow up and forget what magical place sleep school is, let me remind you. Sleep school is a dreamlike place in a Melbourne hospital where angelic nurses help sleep deprived Mums get their baby on an age appropriate routine, teach them how to self-settle at night, assess any bad sleep habits and support you in every way imaginable to get you and your baby sleeping soundly. These people are bonified miracle workers. I invited several of them into our home/marriage but for some reason they repeatedly declined.
The night before arriving had me in tears. Was I doing theright thing by you? Maybe you just needed your Mummy in the middle of thenight? And then every hour on the hour until 7am? We’ve bonded so much over thelast few weeks, so by taking you was I telling you I wanted less of you?
Upon our arrival we met one of the world’s most gloriouscreatures. She reassured me that sleep was a skill that needs practice and thatthis was the place to do it. Surrounded by people who want to help your babysleep and a tool bag with some pretty magical tricks to help you get it. Icried to this nurse, told her of our tumultuous beginning and that I was scaredto hear you cry and not being able to help.
After you went to bed that night, we talked about our goals for you, what we wanted you to achieve during the stay and I suddenly realised something. This sleep school visit was as much for me as it was for you.
I had to learn to trust myself, to trust my instinct in being your Mum and to learn even more about what makes you tick. I was promised that you would never cry for more than 2 minutes before we could go in to settle you, you would be allowed to grizzle for 10 minutes during the day and 20 minutes overnight and then someone would come in to perform some of that magical “pat pat” calming technique that I’d heard so much about.
Rosie, that first night was hard. A beautiful nurse took youout of my arms and told me you were safe and that they wanted me to have thefirst night fully away from you so that I could sleep. These angels evenoffered me two sleeping tablets and some ear plugs to ensure precious sleep.Everything sounded so great in theory, but when someone else was holding youand was in charge of responding to your needs, I broke down. How could someonepossibly love you and care for you like I could? The answer is they can’t, butI knew you were safe, we were only a wall away from each other and we bothneeded sleep.
That night you slept more peacefully than you ever had beforein your short lifetime. It’s almost as if you knew what needed to be done, youknew Mummy needed some rest too and that you were in the right place to get it.The key we have learnt so far is that a pitch-black room for sleeps is idealand you LOVE being tucked in tightly with a flat sheet.
Your smile the following morning was euphoric. It was as ifyou were finally rested. Now that you were a big girl of almost 6 months, youneeded a solid 2 hours of play time between each sleep and even though this wasproving tricky, the sleep you had after play time was deep andrejuvenating. You were feeding better, you were enjoying solids and yousuddenly started trying to crawl.
We stayed at this magical hospital for 5 glorious nights Rosie,and by the final night you had said goodbye to your dummy, goodbye to midnightwaking and had slept more peacefully than I could ever have imagined.
I desperately hope I did the right thing by you. I havebought you so many things in your short life, but I truly think the greatestpresent I could ever give you is the gift of sleep.
Sweet dreams my beautiful Rosie, I’ll be here when you wakeup.
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