Sleep - it's the answer to all of life's problems. Angry? Sleep. Sad? Sleep. Stressed? Sleep. Tired? Definitely, sleep. When you wake up you are rested, calm, optimistic and ready to start the day full of possibilities. I've teamed up with other influencers and bloggers to talk about some big topics within the realm of motherhood, but to do it with honesty. So, first things first we're sharing our experiences with sleep or more like lack of sleep. When I don't get enough sleep I'm basically the opposite of everything mentioned above. I'm tried, anxious, always complaining, short fused and complacent. It terrifies me to think about what kind of mom I'm going to be to Elle when Levi (that's what we're naming our little man) arrives in the next month. At least Ryan can understand why his wife is so moody and Levi won't remember anything from the early days, but Elle, 3 years old, will have a harder time with this adjustment. I'm sure of it.
Thinking back to my first experience with Elle, so much of my sleep deprivation came from my struggles with breast feeding. I had a hard time getting my milk supply to come in successfully, and Elle wasn't getting enough milk. So, for the first month of her life I was breastfeeding and then waking Ryan up to supplement her with some formula or donated breastmilk (more on that topic to come). While he was bottle feeding her, I was pumping. It was about an hour long ordeal giving us only about 4-5 hours of sleep a night. We were miserable! At least during the day I could take naps while Elle napped, but now I have the responsibility of a three year old to watch during the day on top of being a solo-preneur. The fear of how I am going to manage this all without rest leaves me feeling paralyzed sometimes.
But on the bright side, I remember after two months Elle slept through the night successfully. She has been an amazing sleeper ever since we got through our feeding struggles. She still naps for 2-3 hours most days and sleeps from 8:30pm to 6:30am on average. I thought I would share what I know worked for her to help any moms out there, and I thought I would also share what didn't work well. I also want to say that I really welcome advice and opinions on what you found was a big help to getting your little one to sleep. Probably, the biggest thing that I have learned in motherhood is that a support system of other moms is invaluable - even one that is digital. So, please feel free to chime in!
1. Velcro swaddles - They are the only thing that kept our little magician's arms from escaping and waking her up. Muslin blankets are great for many things, but I could not for the life of me tie a tight enough swaddle to keep her sleeping.
2. Swing - The swing was my best friend when I couldn't get Elle to sleep. I already have a swing set up in my living room waiting for Levi.
3. Pacifiers - I know they are controversial, but we used one and it really helped put her to sleep.
4. Routine - Babywise is a pretty controversial topic, and I read the books before Elle was born to see what it was about. I'm not a Babywise mom, but one thing that I did sort of adopt was the routine of eating, playing and then sleeping. A lot of times kids become reliant on feeding to sleep, and to avoid creating a comfort and dependency we just reversed the order to feed as soon as Elle woke up and then play and then let her put herself to sleep. Once she was a month old or so we started to try and keep somewhat regular nap times give or take an hour. This was helpful for me so that I could work.
5. Sharing responsibility - Men can't breastfeed, but they can change diapers, clothes and help put babies to sleep. Ryan and I agree that parenthood is a joint effort. We both have jobs to do and no one's job is more important or less important than the other. Both jobs need sleep to perform well, so we agreed to help each other and be a team as much as we could from the get go.
WHAT I PLAN TO DO DIFFERENTLY:
1. Not stress about the small stuff - Having the house being super clean and organized all of the time isn't that important for two months. I can be a neat freak, and I would find myself spending all of my time cleaning while Elle was napping. I deprived myself of time that I needed to rejuvenate my body and soul.
2. Delegate - I hired an assistant last week. I am hoping that she can carry some of my work load so that I can have a little more freedom in my personal life.
3. Get a king size bed - I constantly woke Ryan up while I was breastfeeding, and part of that was being so close in bed. We are really looking forward to a bigger bed for our soon to be family of four.
4. Not tip-toe around the house - I was always so nervous to wake Elle up from her nap that I would find myself being extra quiet. Levi won't really have the luxury with his sister making all sorts of racket, and I think that's a great thing because it'll make sleeping through loud noises a lot more successful.
I'd love to hear what worked and didn't work for you and your littles. You can also read stories from several other moms in the list below.