When I had my first child nothing else mattered…
But then, 6 months later, I came to the realization that, in fact, sleep mattered a whole lot and we weren’t getting any.
I was tuned-in, connected, devoted, anticipating my baby's every need, but we weren’t getting enough sleep and I had no idea how to give him the rest he needed: every time I set him down he woke up!
How could I have messed up such a fundamental human need? Did I miss the memo?
I felt betrayed; the wisdom passed down by my family, friends, and co-workers had not included anything about baby sleep (other than the implicit understanding that it sucks).
How could my mother’s intuition lead me so far astray? I'd expected to be challenged by motherhood, not subjected to a form of torture by the new little love of my life.
We were happy, just so, so tired. We were surviving on love and nutrition - probably overcompensating with both truth be told.
So there we were:
My husband was sleeping in the guest room, I was pregnant with baby #2, and baby #1 was waking every two hours all night long and he thought 5:00 AM was morning.
Bed-sharing did not help.
Feeding him all night did not help.
Napping when the baby napped did not help.
I was looking ahead to life with two babies, twice as much laundry, and half as much sleep again - there had to be a better way! I could not believe that mothers throughout history had lowered their expectations, lessened their productivity, and just put up with life with little to no sleep. Some did I’m sure, but I knew that wasn’t the whole story.
I set out to discover how mothers managed do it all.
I scoured library books and baby blogs and over-shared with every mom and grandmother at the playgroup, park, and library and soon discovered the age-old recipe for strong, vibrant families: an equal balance of love, nutrition, and sleep and a foundation rooted in helping babies learn these things, not always doing it for them.
I realized my baby had ALREADY learned how to sleep: I had taught him that in order to sleep I had to feed and rock him.
The problem was that he was no longer a newborn but I was still putting him to sleep like one and this is why it wasn’t working. He was ready for change!
The how-to part took longer to wrap my head and heart around…
But eventually I tried enough different approaches unsuccessfully that I was able to cobble together a system to help my baby learn to fall asleep in his bed. It was challenging because it involved making changes and a whole lot of trial and error, but it worked.
My baby began sleeping well at night and taking decent naps and life as a new parent got substantially more enjoyable simply because we were both getting enough sleep.
As a first-time parent, I had no idea how much sleep babies needed and how capable they are of taking the sleep they need given the skills and opportunity to choose.
When baby #2 was born I made sure to provide him with a balance of love, nutrition, and sleep much sooner than his brother and he began sleeping 12 hours a night, of his own volition, at three months old. We still had plenty of opportunities for snuggling and breastfeeding - we just balanced our snuggles and breastfeeding with sleep!
By the time I had my third child, I knew exactly what would allow her to choose to sleep well and she’s been consistently sleeping well her entire life with just as many snuggles and just as much breastmilk as her brothers had.
Today my three kids all share one bedroom
And they continue to find sleep to be easy and enjoyable in our little house in Nelson, BC while I help parents near and far learn that their babies and children can sleep well too.
From my own experience and from working with hundreds of families, I can tell you that life with children and sleep is entirely possible and entirely amazing.
When I’m not helping proactive parents…
I can be found in my garden, in the lake, in the pages of book, or in the trees at the local ski hill - depending on the season - and never far from my family.
Brainstory Certification, 2019
Alberta Family Wellness Initiative
Association of Professional Sleep Consultants
Active Member, 2018 - Present
Active Member, 2017 - Present
Pediatric Sleep Consultant Certification, 2016
Sleep Sense Training and Mentorship
Editing & Publishing Postgraduate Studies, 2008
Simon Fraser University
Bachelor of Arts, 2004