I love my baby boy. He has brought more joy into my life than I ever imagined, and I’m so lucky to be his mama. However, my child was cursed with an inability to sleep, which I have since learned is a pretty gigantic problem to have. We were handed a sweet baby sleeping peacefully in a bassinet on Night #1, and then he woke up and was like, “Play time is over, Mom and Dad.”
In his defense, he was chest-sleeping champ and could sleep on me for hours on end. But the moment I tried to set him down, no matter how delicately I slithered out from under him, he would wake up within minutes. My evenings, then, consisted of saying goodnight to my husband around 6:30 p.m., shushing my son to sleep while listening to Taylor Swift (I thought she could fix anything!), and sitting in the rocking chair holding my baby. In darkness. Wishing I was eating ice cream and watching The Bachelor. When we eventually tried co-sleeping, which did help a little, he still woke up. Every. Single. Hour. Each time, I would get up and sway with him in my left arm, while crying softly to myself and posting frantic messages on Facebook mom groups with my right.
Believe me when I say we tried everything anyone would suggest.
“Oh, you just need to swaddle him correctly. Don’t you know babies love to be swaddled?”
“Have you gotten the Rock n’ Play? ANY baby can sleep in one of those!”
“Try the ___________________ (insert: sleeper/suit/carrier/book/method/song/chant/dance).”
Nothing worked. None of it.
I felt like a bad parent. Why couldn’t I teach my child to sleep like the other moms? What was I doing wrong? If I failed at something so simple, what other, more difficult things would I fail at in the future? Would I ever be able to teach my son anything?!
The constant battle with getting him to sleep—and getting no sleep of my own—made me feel like I was being crushed into millions of tiny pieces by a giant, well-rested hammer. I would cry for no reason and scream at my husband for walking too loudly and waking him up, if we ever did manage to get him to sleep. (Walking too loudly is a serious problem. Google it.) After six months of exhaustion—SIX MONTHS—we finally gave up and decided to get professional help. And though I probably could have used a therapy session or two, I’m talking about a Sleep Trainer.
Sleep Trainers exist! Though I felt a little ashamed to hire someone to teach me how to get my son to sleep, it was a magical dream for our family. Friends always ask about my experience, wanting to find out what she did and why it was so life-changing. To be honest, it’s a little hard to explain. Did she say anything that we hadn’t seen before in the gazillion books we read? Not really. Was it essentially the “Cry-it-Out” method partnered with some scheduling? Give or take. But for whatever reason, the Sleep Trainer’s plan and support worked, and gave us so much more than sleep: we were given our sanity back, our evenings together as a couple, and the comfort in realizing that it’s okay to ask for help. That you don’t have to know everything or do things perfectly. That it’s okay—and normal—to have a child who struggles with something, perhaps to a greater degree than other kids. Even more, that it’s okay—and normal—to be a mother who struggles with something, perhaps to a greater degree than other moms.
Throughout our stressful, sleepless nights, we as parents learned that we are willing to try any method, test any product, swallow our pride and jump through any hoop thrown our way because that’s how much we love our little guy. And while he still has sleep troubles from to time, and I still glare at my husband for walking too loudly, we’re incredibly happy to be past those horrible nights of frustration and instead focused on watching our son do all the amazing things he does so well.