Many of you are thinking it- so let’s talk about it. Hiring a professional sleep coach. Really? Can’t people figure this out on their own? My husband and I didn’t consider ourselves professional sleep coach kind of people. Here is my story about being introduced to Gentle Sleep Coaching:
Me: I gotta go. I’ve got an appointment with our sleep coach.
Sister-in-law: Huh? A what?
Me: Yeah, we hired a professional sleep coach. I didn’t know that existed- but it does.
Sister-in-law: Scott actually agreed to pay for that? Wow. Things must be bad at your house!
Six months earlier…
I consider myself a reasonably smart person with common sense. Prior to the birth of my son, I had worked in sales and marketing for about 15 years and clinical healthcare for the last five. I knew after our baby arrived there would be some ups and downs, but, I also knew we would get through it. Things started out a little hectic when Charlie decided to make his appearance 3 ½ weeks early but there weren’t any major complications and before we knew it we were cruising through life as the parents of a newborn.
Barring the normal adjustments to parenthood (see my blog titled If I Knew Then, What I Know Now) life was good. Except one little thing. Okay, maybe not so little. At 5 months old Charlie still wanted to breastfeed every two hours, and I really wanted to get a little more sleep. We checked with our doctor and got the approval to try for a 6 hour stretch. I read the book Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Child by Marc Weissbluth, M.D. Everything made sense. No problem. I’m ready. We were going to let him “cry it out” at bedtime and naptime. I talked to a couple of friends that said it usually takes about 3 nights, and it’s hard, but it’s worth it. Agreed.
I’ll spare you the details but “cry it out” didn’t work in our house. Charlie cried for an unusually long time at every nap and bedtime. He was spending more time crying than not. I didn’t consider myself overly sensitive to crying. I was prepared. But it started getting to me. We adjusted our game plan. We’ll decided to nurse him down at nap times but try “cry it out” at bedtime. More crying. At this point I’m crying too. (And for the record, I don’t cry at weddings or movies). In desperation, I updated my Facebook status:
“All right, all you parents out there- what’s the trick to getting your baby to sleep through the night?”
In response, a friend sent me a link for a Certified Gentle Sleep Coach. That’s when everything changed.
I had no idea what the heck a Certified Gentle Sleep Coach was but I was sold the minute I saw her Facebook page! I sent a brief message explaining the situation. Approximately 20 minutes later, I received an email response:
“Dear Betsy, your son is still very young. Tonight, do whatever you can to comfort him and help him sleep. Are you available at 10am tomorrow morning to talk for about 20 minutes”?
Was I available? Are you kidding? I would have postponed my wedding to take that call! The next day she explained how she could help and how her services worked. We agreed to move forward, but in the light of a new day, I was extremely skeptical. I was certainly willing to give it a shot, but I was doubtful. Would she really be able to give me information I didn’t already know and recommendations that worked? I would be pleasantly surprised if she did.
I was pleasantly surprised. We came up with a plan, together, based on our family’s goals and Charlie’s medical and personal history. It worked. There was some crying (A LOT less than before) and some changes to the plan as coaching progressed, but we met our goals and we now have a champion sleeper on our hands.
I am the first person to admit, not everyone needs a sleep coach. Regardless of where and when your children are sleeping- if it’s working for your family, great! If it’s not working, there is help available.
Is hiring a professional sleep coach crazy? Maybe, but we are a happy, well rested family, and I wouldn’t trade that for anything.