Hiring a sleep consultant was hands down the best thing I’ve ever done for myself in the last seven years.
Marrying my husband, becoming a mother, school, work, travel–all great things, but hiring a sleep consultant still wins.
I realize that’s a bold statement l’lI hear about later, but listen.
Without sleep, I can’t enjoy any of those things. I can deal with not sleeping a night or two with a sick kid, but extended sleep deprivation is miserable. I’m irritable, hypersensitive, anxious, easily offended, unfocused, and can’t remember a time when there was happiness in life. To sum it up: sleep deprivation leads to depression.
In September 2015, we moved, my normal sleeping baby hit three months and our life turned into a sleep deprived hell. Until she was one, she was up hourly almost every night. Her second year felt like heaven comparatively and she was still up 1 to 6 times a night. Attempts at sleep training ended in her screaming until she threw up. She had a handful of times during those first two years of sleeping through the night, but nothing consistent. As her wakes lessened, I recognized that I had displayed signs of depression. She finally started sleeping through the night a week before our second child was born.
Our second daughter slept well for the first six months. Almost overnight, she was up every 45 minutes to an hour most nights. I was terrified to try sleep training again because of how awful it was the first time, but I was starting to feel the darkness of depression creeping in again.
I started a new position in April and was obviously struggling to stay awake in every meeting. It was embarrassing and I looked a mess. Seriously, my face was swollen for a couple of months there and I’d never seen bags like the ones under my eyes. No amount of makeup was going to help that. My body was under so much stress that I could not lose the baby weight.
More importantly, it negatively affected my relationships. I wasn’t being the mother I wanted to be because I was so tired and irritable. But I had no patience for my husband being tired and irritable. In my mind I figured one of us needed to be more patient and since my brain could not handle that, then it was up to him. Lack of sleep doesn’t exactly help your thought processes. I felt like I was always on the brink of tears, even if I was happy. I felt like I was going crazy.
And guess what exhaustion does to your desire for intimacy? Spoiler alert: you don’t have much desire, no matter how hot your husband is. Being irritable and half asleep doesn’t exactly lead to sexy times.
I knew about sleep consultants with my first, but we were both in school on my part-time pay and there was no way we could afford it. With our second, we were done with school, but had recently moved and I still worked part-time, so we didn’t have a lot of extra money when her sleep went nuts. Then I started working full-time. And then I got accepted into graduate school.
I knew that if I wanted to have any success in my job and grad school, and if I ever wanted to not feel like a horrible mom and wife, then I needed sleep. I asked in a mom Facebook group for consultant recommendations. My husband was on board, but I didn’t call. I was embarrassed that I couldn’t teach my kids to sleep and had to pay someone to help me.
The last straw finally came one night at the beginning of May. I had a meeting with someone at church and while he was talking, I couldn’t focus on what he was saying. It took strong physical effort for me to keep my eyes open and my brain couldn’t do that and process what he was saying. I’m pretty sure I was experiencing microsleep and was legitimately scared to drive less than two miles back to my house. It felt like my body was finally shutting down. I worried that I would fall asleep with my girls in the car.
So, I hopped on Facebook, got the number for Kori at Corbridge Sleep Coaching and finally called. She was so kind and understanding and didn’t make me feel stupid that I couldn’t figure this out. I explained that I had major anxiety about going through sleep training again. She explained that her goals were to get my daughter to fall asleep on her own and in her own bed and that she’d go at a pace that was comfortable for me.
We decided that our first night of sleep training would be May 18th. I had to keep a sleep log for the week prior to starting so she could see a little more of what her sleep was like. Because I had terrible memory, I forgot to do it until two nights before we started, but it is accurate of my life for the last 6 months with her and similar to how my other daughter was.
The night before we started, we had a FaceTime call with Kori to go over the plan, step by step. The whole idea is to get rid of sleep props, or what your kid is using as a crutch to help them fall asleep. For my daughter, she had to be held and usually nursed or bottle-fed. We went over specific steps to help reduce that, like how close I was to her, how much I talked to her, when to physically help her lie down, and how long to wait before I went into her room during the night when she woke. We went over a specific feeding schedule to help disassociate her meals with sleep. We talked nighttime routine and keeping things consistent for her, right down to phrases we’d say when we put her in bed.
Our first night was miserable. It took almost an hour of crying for her to lay down and fall asleep. I thought my brain was going to burst from the cries, but I was genuinely shocked when she fell asleep. I thought it would take twice as long and that she’d start throwing up like her sister did. She was up only a couple of times during the night and we did the exact same steps and she still took almost an hour to fall asleep again.
The next day, it only took her about 15 minutes to fall asleep for her naps on her own.
The second night, it took ten minutes less for her to fall asleep. She almost slept through the entire night. I waited our designated time before going in there, but all I did was pat her back for a second and sat down and then she fell asleep within two minutes. I don’t think she was really awake and if I had waited longer to go in, she probably would have fallen asleep.
From then on, she has slept through the night, except for one night during her cold when she woke up for 20 minutes. Yep, she got a cold with a major runny nose and still slept through the night! Regardless of who puts her to bed, she falls asleep on her own and stays asleep.
As we were going through this, I thought, “How is this that different from what I did before?” I had read the books that were supposed to get every kid to sleep and they said the same stuff, so why did this work?” I think it had a lot to do with two related things:
- Tailored help. With her experience, she told me exactly what I needed to do and for how long. She told me when it was time to take the next step in extending my wait times or talking to her less, etc. Every day we had a phone call with an update on what happened and we’d make adjustments to troubleshoot.
- My husband and I weren’t alone. The tailored help was important for the steps she gave, but it was equally important because it felt like a huge weight lifted. It didn’t feel like I had to be the one to figure it out. I knew that someone else already knew what to do and I just had to follow her instructions. Having her there to coach us through this gave so much hope that it would work.
I’m happy to say that we’ve had two kids sleeping through the night for a month now. She still gets upset going to bed and it usually takes 40 minutes for her to fall asleep, but she’s also at that age where they deal with separation anxiety, so I think it’ll pass in the next little bit. I’m still amazed that I can put her down in her bed and she’ll fall asleep without barfing.
I have fun with my kids.
I don’t struggle to stay awake in meetings anymore (unless they’re boring and/or after lunch).
I’m not scared of driving.
My face isn’t swollen anymore.
Bedtime doesn’t give me anxiety.
I’m not irritable. At least I don’t think so, but maybe check with my husband.
Speaking of husbands, we have more time together and my sex drive is pretty back to normal. Hey-o!
My brain fog is at normal mom brain levels.
I get up at 5a.m. to exercise and am hopeful the combo of sleep + not stressed will help me lose the rest of this baby weight.
I don’t feel like I’m about to cry at any given moment or that those dark feelings of depression are coming.
I’d say you can’t put a price on that, but you can. It was $400 to hire Kori. Knowing what I know now, I would’ve paid a lot more. Hiring a therapist and getting medicated for depression would’ve eventually cost much more. Hiring Kori prevented that from becoming a necessity.
It really was the best money I’ve ever spent.
I talked your ears off, but if you have any questions that I didn’t cover, ask away! I’ve linked to Kori’s website throughout this post, but here’s her number too: 435-616-7723. She does free consultations and isn’t pushy at all, so give her a call. This is not a sponsored post, but after I told her I was going to write this up, she said that when she gets referrals, she does send a small gift to the referrer. Tell her you heard from me or don’t, I’d share this anyways.
Like my husband and I say to each other before we go to bed,
“I love you and good luck.”