Ok So I know I said I wasn't going to write another blog but I feel compelled to after such positive feedback and popular demand for another! I try my best to keep it real and let you know what has been working, and what has failed for us. I will begin this blog the same way I started the other with an honest disclaimer that I AM NOT a trained professional in any thing I talk about below. I do not suggest that my way is the right way or that you should do what I do. I am simply here to share my experience with you, not implying that what I do is the right thing.
So with that said lets begin. I decided to write this blog mostly because I literally feel like I climbed Mount Everest with sleep training so I really want to share the success and failures we had with it in hopes that I can save another mom the struggle we went through. There are also a few other topics that have come up in discussions with my friends and other moms that I think are super important to get out into the open. I will discuss sleep training, the feeling of competition and inadequacy between moms, solicited vs. unsolicited advice, after baby weight loss and post-partum depression.
I mentioned in my last blog post that one of my friends reached out to me after reading it and told me about this book called "Sleep Sense" by Dana Obleman and it's a GAME CHANGER! The last blog post ended when André was 5 weeks old and lets just say week 5-8 were the most exhausting and draining of my life. Dré was such a good little sleeper up until week 5 and all of a sudden that changed. In all the other books I read and research I've done every expert says the same thing- week 5/6 the babies realize they are out of the womb and everything changes. They are awake more during the day and have a harder time going to sleep. That would be putting it lightly lol! When I would try and put André down for a nap I would have to walk him all over my house until he would fall asleep. Walk up and down the stairs, rock him aggressively, put him in the carrier and walk around the block... everything I was doing was sucking the life out of me. I would be so tired by the time he would fall asleep! Then, I would attempt to put him down in his crib and literally as soon as I would put him down, he would wake up and I would have to do the process over and over. Some times it would take me up to 2 hours to get him to sleep I would be almost in tears by the end only to have him wake up 10 minutes later. I was also breast feeding him to sleep which is a huge NO NO! I remember at the hospital one of the nurses told me not to let him use me a a soother and make sure that boobs are only for feeding and I though she was kind of a bi**h! Now I wish I had listened to her! Not only is breast feeding a baby to sleep completely wrong, it then traps the mother into being the only one who can soothe the baby to sleep. You know the expression "If I only knew then what I know now..." this is literally the story of my life! But applies most to sleep training! If there is anything you take away from this blog- it is this TRUST ME DO NOT BREAST FEED YOUR BABY TO SLEEP! After 3 weeks of literally baby hell I decided that I couldn't live like this anymore and had to do something. My friend recommended the Sleep Sense book and I read it in 1 afternoon and got started that night. I will also say here that part of sleep training is making sacrifices with your time. Your life will now be driven by when the baby naps and sleeps for the night. Unfortunately, many people will view you as being inflexible and won't understand why you can't just go somewhere or can't just take the baby and let them sleep in the car... only you will understand this once you see the value and importance of keeping a strict schedule when sleep training and hopefully the people around you can respect that as well.
(Sleep Sense Book By Dana Obleman, GET IT!)
I started putting him in his own crib and own room at 8 weeks but I was too scared to let him cry it out. I tried to let him cry it out once and it made me really uncomfortable. I felt like I was abandoning him. So I changed my mind and went with Obleman's "gentle" approach to sleep training. (Just a side note here... there are many antiquated ways of sleep training out there and I feel that the old method of waiting till 6 months to get started and then just letting a baby cry it out is one of them. This is the method most doctors recommend and you all know how I feel about just blindly following what your regular doctor says, so please do you research before making your decision on sleep training) Obleman's "gentle" approach allows you to stay beside the crib in the room while the baby learns to self-soothe. I am obviously not going to tell you exactly what to do, you NEED to get a copy of her book and do exactly what she says. I am not getting paid by her and have no affiliation with her but I am a believer and living proof that it works! All I will say is that you need to stay strong and you can do it! I will also be the first to admit that the first 4 weeks I was doing it completely wrong because I was still breast feeding Dré to sleep, and picking him up to soothe him but this was only making the process more difficult. I just needed to hit rock bottom with myself before I put my own foot down and followed the book correctly. Again, I wish I had done it sooner that I did. The day he turned 3 months I promised myself I would try the training EXACTLY how she recommends in the book. That night I put him in his crib awake so that he could properly learn to soothe himself to sleep. He screamed at me for 20 minutes then fell asleep. Every time he woke, and each nap over the next few days I made sure to put him in his crib while he was drowsy but still awake and he learned to put himself to sleep without my help. I cannot tell you how liberating this has been I'm so proud of my boy and happy I stayed strong because this has made my life so much better! There is also a lot of talk about a 4 month regression. André is 4 months now and he has not forgotten how to put himself to sleep. We worked really hard with the training so I don't see him "regressing." ALL babies will have harder hours, days, and weeks as they go through growth spurts every months, the start teething around 3 months and getting vaccinated also completely throws them off their sleep game. Please don't let hearsay of an imaginary regression that your baby might go through deter you from sleep training. Your life will be amazing once you are liberated like I am! You're going to have to train your baby to sleep at some point so why not do it sooner than later?!
(I created a document based on what is recommended in the Sleep Sense Book to help keep myself or anyone else who takes care of Dré on track. I literally keep track of what time each nap starts and ends, I record when he wakes to feed in the night as well as his bed times. This helps to see his sleep patterns develop, and also helps if someone has to come a babysit if I need to go out. Instructions are very clear on what needs to be done for naps, sleep, his daily schedule of wake time and bed time routine.)
This is a perfect segway to my next topic. There is and will always be a feeling of competition between new moms especially with instagram and facebook in the world. You go online and you see how well someone else is doing and how far their baby is and I will tell you that you will always feel that way until you turn it around. I look at it more as a challenge to do better myself and for my baby as opposed to feeling like I'm not good enough. I use an app called Baby Sparks, again I do not get paid by them but really I should since I recommend it to everyone lol. This app is truly amazing especially if you don't have a background in education and are sitting at home with your baby wondering wtf to do with them! Every morning once André has been changed and fed we start our activities. I would like to think that my baby is a genius and far more advanced than other people's kids but really I credit it all to this app! I have been doing all kinds of cognitive, physical, social emotional, visual and gross motor activities with him that I never would have even considered doing other wise. Mostly because I just wouldn't know to do them! So again, I recommend downloading this app it's truly amazing. Let's support each other instead of "competing" with each other and help all our babies learn and grow.
If you are anything like me you will still have that internal feeling of "competition" with other moms when it comes to after baby weight loss. In my head I thought I would just go right back to my pre-pregnancy weight and my body would be right back to how I wanted because I put that into the universe... well hellooo... universe... are you listening??? What happened!!! Did you forget to make my body go back when you made everyone else's go back? LOL! OK Ladies, here's the reality! No matter if you buy the belly belt or not (which you aren't supposed to wear the first 6 weeks after baby because your organs need to go back in place) you need time to get back to your pre-pregnancy weight. I am still determined to get back to where I was but I have set more realistic goals. First thing to keep in mind is that in order to get back you probably have to exercise. Unless you are super mom or have a full time nanny I don't know when you would find time to exercise at the beginning. The first three months with a new baby are crazy and the focus will be on the baby. Then if you sleep train early your focus will be there. Once all these new skills have been learned then one might be able to find time for oneself but I am still not there yet. I am so tired after being a mom all day that when André puts himself to sleep for the last time around 6:30pm I am in no state to be jumping around and exercising. Maybe one day... but not yet! But I do have some advice and solutions! First, if you take a look at your shoulders you will notice that they did not gain any weight during your pregnancy! Shoulders are amazing like that! Buy off the shoulder shirts to draw people's eyes up and away from your hips and bum! Second, leggings are life! Secret Lives... leggings are amazing for before, during and after pregnancy. Our leggings are compression fit so they suck you in in all the right places and are super stylish so you always look and feel good while wearing them. Shameless plug but I live in my SL leggings, we have so many amazing new styles coming out soon we are super pumped about them and hope you will be too!
(In Living Colour, Love Me Not & When The Sun Goes Down Leggings all available at www.seretlivesotw.com)
Over the last year I can't tell you how much "advice" I have received from everyone and anyone about having a baby. What I have learned is that instead of being closed to it which I once was, I am open to letting people tell me what worked and what didn't for them. Ultimately, it is up to YOU the parent to decide what advice/ recommendations you will take and whom you will take it from. The most challenging people you will encounter are usually the ones closest to you. Our parents, grand parents, aunts ,uncles whom ever. Now, this is always a sensitive and touchy area in most families so here is my advice to you: sometimes people share things that are passed down from generation to generation, so listen to what they say and then google the shit out of it to see if it is safe or not! A lot has changed since the 1980s and years before that! Many things that were once considered acceptable and normal are now considered dangerous and unsafe. Yes, our parents raised us and we all turned out just fine, but remember some old school practises are just not considered safe anymore. So when people tell you what you should be doing just smile and say "thanks for the tip!" then decide if you are comfortable or not using it. Everyone means well, no one is out to harm your baby, but you really need to do what feels right for you.
(André is definitely a limited edition!)
The last topic I think is important to talk about is post-partum depression. Over the past few months I have been really monitoring myself to see if my mood is changing or I feel uncontrollable sadness that people talk about. I am someone who suffered from anxiety in the past so I am trying to really stay on top of it. Right before I had André I had to put my cat to sleep and I find myself crying about him all the time... and here we go I'm crying again just typing about him. I am clearly traumatized and no where near over the loss so I'm definitely finding it hard to deal with especially since my hormones are probably out of wack as well. It makes me cry every time I think about him so this is definitely something that I am struggling with. I know we did the right thing but I still feel so sad inside, my heart is still breaking for him. Stupid cat. Listen, crying also feels really good sometimes so I'm trying to use this in a positive way! Get those toxins out, maybe I'll lose some weight doing it too lol. If any of you new moms out there are feeling really sad inside and can't control it make sure you talk to your naturopath and doctor about it because there is a lot you can do to get help. There is no need to be too proud to ask for help when you feel that you need it. That goes for everything with being a new mom. If you need advice, ask for it, if you need help, ask for it. If you feel alone, talk to someone. You can e-mail me if you need to! Just don't cry by yourself.
Ok friends. well I think I have covered all of what I though was important to share again at the stage where I am with André. I feel extremely proud of him and liberated from where we once were before sleep training. There are lots of things we are still working on but that's all part of it, they don't call them growing pains for nothing! I hope this blog helps you in some way :)
Techno Mama H. & Happy sleeping baby Dré!