Time Will Make Us Better Parents. It’s That Hard and That Easy.

As I write this, I have my laptop propped on the kitchen island while cooking breakfast. This is how inspiration hits me: my husband is roaming around the house upstairs and down holding our five-month-old baby while he cries and fights sleep. It’s taking everything I have in me not to intervene, to breastfeed him to sleep with no tears and less struggle.

But I’m holding back, at least for a few extra minutes, to give my husband the opportunity to do this on his own, in his own way.

A lot of the early parenting articles I come across display headlines like “What They Didn’t Tell Me About Becoming a Parent” or “10 Things I Didn’t Know Until I Had Kids of My Own.” The assumption sometimes in these headlines is that:

  1. Information is being withheld from us, as if us new parents must be initiated in the same way those before us were, and
  2. This information is somehow transformative. That, once we have it, we have access to a special code that will solve all our problems.

I’ll admit I went into my pregnancy with the idea that the more information I had the better. Knowledge is power, right? The more I knew, the less afraid I was about what I might experience. I told myself that I didn’t necessarily need to USE all the suggestions myself, but having it in my toolbox would prove helpful at some point.

Five months into this parenting thing, however, and I am nowhere near as confident or wise as I expected to be. I haven’t found an article that solved all my problems or even the problem at hand, and I am finding that having all the information in the world isn’t necessarily helpful. It’s a pretty defeating realization, accepting that sometimes there is no solution. Sometimes, there are many different possible solutions. On my bad days, this makes me feel pretty bitter.

On my level headed days, like today, I understand that harboring resentment because NO ONE TOLD ME so many things is the wrong way of looking at it. NO ONE TOLD ME because NO ONE has MY child. It feels silly saying out loud, but how many times have I needed to remind myself that my child is an individual? Not only is he an individual, but he also has moods and feelings and circumstances that affect him each day, each moment, ESPECIALLY now, when he is growing and changing SO rapidly.

I have had to remind myself many many times on a daily basis of this fact and this fact alone because, while the articles offer solace, comfort and provide nifty tips sometimes, they do not solve my problems. They shouldn’t.

Parenting is hard but it’s supposed to be challenging. We as parents need to be initiated. If we are somehow offered a fast lane to this whole experience, we are potentially less equip for more difficult times ahead like when our child splits his chin in the swimming pool or has a severe allergic reaction and needs to go to the hospital. Our ability to act in the moment, to make the call to get help or solve the problem on our own depends on what we know about our child and our awareness of our place in his life as his parents. No “10 Things to Do When…” will help us in these moments.

The best and the hardest thing to accept about as parents is that all the information we need is gained in the time we spend them. The more we observe and get to know them, the more we can gauge what works and what does not.

We have ideas and instincts that I think sometimes living in the information age obscures.  In my moments of exasperation, I keep asking how parents of yesteryear figured things out, before all these websites and classes and coaches were available?

The answer is simple: people were able to still parent successfully without all that, our parents did, our friends did, and we can too. That isn’t to say the additional resources aren’t helpful, just that you shouldn’t deny the power of your own instincts. We just need patience, and patience is something that feels like a curse when we are so accustomed to instant gratification.  

Surprise surprise, this essay is not here to solve problems for you. Maybe in not trying to, it will serve as a gentle reminder that no one has the solution, but you.

And how is my baby doing now? He’s peacefully napping in his nursery. It took my husband three attempts to put him down without crying, but without my intervention, he still succeeded.

And what are we doing now? We are sipping coffee and enjoying a home-made breakfast before 10:30 a.m. for the first time in a long time together, alone. Here’s to celebrating the little victories.

Stroll into Halloween: A Family Friendly Guide of Local October Events

If the Autumnal Equinox had you like…

…then you’ve already decked out your house in fall and Halloween decor, bought pumpkin flavored everything, and have your turtlenecks, booties and scarfs queued up for the slightest sign of wind chill.

The cooler temps and shorter days don’t mean that you and your young family need to be cooped up to enjoy this special time of year. Quite the opposite. In fact, throughout the month of October, there are tons of activities in celebration of pumpkins, candy, and things that go bump in the night. Read on to find out about some of the local family and stroller friendly events in the month of October.   

Bates Nut Farm Pumpkin Patch (Valley Center, CA)  

15954 Woods Valley Rd, Valley Center, CA 92082

All Month Long

It wouldn’t be fall without a good ol’ fashioned pumpkin patch outing. There are many to choose from but Bates Nut Farm’s truly has it all: hayrides, a straw maze, petting zoo and pony rides, food trucks, live music, and of course, pumpkins of all sizes! Spend a day with the whole family basking in some of these seasonal traditions at a venue that’s been doing this for over fifty years!

Kids Free October Safari Park (Escondido, CA)

15500 San Pasqual Valley Rd, Escondido, CA 92027

All Month Long

Throughout the month of October, kids ages 11 and younger get free admission (with an adult) at the San Diego Zoo Safari Park. It’s not the only place where kids get in free during the month of October in San Diego. The San Diego Zoo, Legoland, Birch Aquarium, and museums across the county are dropping kids’ fees for a whole month. The Safari Park is promising lots of special activities during the weekends, and the free admission includes its Africa Tram! While this isn’t a Halloween-themed offer, you have to admit, it is quite a treat!

Legoland’s Brick-or-Treat (Carlsbad, CA)

1 Legoland Dr, Carlsbad, CA 92008

10/6/18 – 10/31/18

Not only is Legoland taking part in the Kids Free October offer, but the theme park is also celebrating Halloween season with the return of its annual Brick or Treat event. This year, the event is taking place even more days (9 days to be exact) beginning October 6. What is Brick or Treat exactly? It’s a time when the Lego-themed park transforms for Halloween with a trick-or-treating trail and scavenger hunt, kid-friendly spooky entertainment, music and fireworks, and more surprises.

Breakfast with the Littlest Pumpkin (San Marcos, CA)

3 Civic Center Drive, San Marcos, California 92069

10/13/2018, 7:30 AM – 11 AM

Enjoy a pancake breakfast at the San Marcos Community Center and play fun carnival games. Halloween costumes are encouraged so it’s the perfect opportunity to get more photo opps with your cutie pie in their costume! One night isn’t enough.

Pumpkin Plunge (Carlsbad, CA)

6565 Alicante Road Carlsbad, CA  92009

10/20/18, 5 PM – 9 PM

Who said the end of summer means our swimsuits have to go in storage for a whole year? One perk of San Diego living? Halloween events can take place in community pools! The Alga Norte Aquatic Center in Carlsbad is hosting its annual Pumpkin Plunge! For one day, the aquatic center transforms for some Halloween fun with pool activities and games with prizes, floating obstacles, and Key Logs. Not interested in getting wet and wild? Dry activities include a pumpkin themed bounce house, Floating Pumpkin Patch where every child will get to lasso and keep a pumpkin, ring toss, and a photo op. To top it off, the evening ends with a movie showing (Boxtrolls, rated PG) on a giant outdoor movie screen. Dinner and snacks available at the event!

Not So Scary Estuary (Solana Beach, CA)

2710 Manchester Avenue, Cardiff-by-the-Sea, CA 92007

10/28/18, 10 AM – 3 PM

Looking to get in touch with nature and have an educational experience in costume? Have a howling good time this Halloween season at the 7th Annual Not-So-Scary Estuary Family Discovery Day at the San Elijo Nature Center. This year’s theme is Changing Climate and will include performances about sea level rise, a zero-waste activity and animal meet and greets. Kids who come in costume will be invited to join the parade with prizes awarded. With all that and more inside the Nature Center and outside along the loop trail, this is sure to be a fun-filled day of memories for you and your family.

Dia de los Muertos (Oceanside, CA)

4050 Mission Avenue, Oceanside, CA 92057

10/28/18, 10 AM – 4 PM

The San Luis Rey Mission comes alive to celebrate Dia de los Muertos at a free family-friendly event that includes live entertainment, carnival rides, alter displays and a classic car show. The event includes tons of craft activities and carnival rides for your kids. And you definitely won’t want to miss out on the over 90 vendors and amazing traditional food available at this community event.

 

Stroll Into Springtime (Part 2)

Your North County Guide to Stroller-Friendly Ways to Enjoy Spring, continued

Spring is here and here comes the sun! Along with that opens a seemingly endless amount of opportunities to go outdoors and enjoy our San Diego landscape. Never fear, us at Babies in Bloom have weeded through the trailheads and walking paths throughout North County and come up with a tailored list of our favorite places to soak up some Vitamin D with your little ones.

For the second part of our series, our theme is “Choose Your Own Adventure.” Our featured location features multiple trails to choose from depending on your time constraints, physical aptitude, and baby portability.

San Elijo Lagoon (Solana Beach/Cardiff-by-the-Sea, CA) –  Seven Open Trails, Seven Total Miles!

Check out each individual trail for directions and address.

The San Elijo Lagoon is one of the most diverse coastal wetlands in San Diego County. Its biodiversity offers a little bit of something for everyone, from trail enthusiasts to families with small children, photographers to bird watchers. The reserve spans nearly 1,000 acres and houses seven trails to choose from (and that only includes the ones that are currently open).

Nature Center Loop – EASY: One Mile Double Loop

2710 Manchester Avenue, Cardiff-by-the-Sea, CA 92007
Free & Stroller & Baby Carrier-Friendly, Dog-Friendly

Looking for an easy trail to walk with a stroller or a wobbly toddler? Look no further than the Nature Center Loop. This mile-long double loop of smooth trail features up close and personal views of the San Elijo Lagoon, where you will likely see many various bird species and maybe even fish splashing in the water.

This time of year, all the native San Diego plants are in bloom and thriving, making the views while you stroll all the more captivating. Scattered along the trail are benches that you can use to rest, breastfeed, have a little snack, or just take a few deep much-needed mom breaths before you continue.

An added bonus to the Nature Center Loop is that it begins and ends with…you may have guessed, a nature center! Think of this nature center as a mini museum that is free to the public and kid-friendly. In fact, it’s exhibits are made with kids in mind. Open daily from 9 am to 5 pm, this center features some living animals, displays that detail the history of the reserve lands, educational tips for conservation, and more. This is a place that your children can enjoy and learn from as they continue to grow. If that’s not enough of a hard sell, the Nature Center also includes outside picnic-style tables that you can have lunch on, restrooms, and with its two levels, offer expansive ocean and coastal views.

Fun fact: the Nature Center platinum certified by LEED (U.S. Green Building Council’s Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design), which means that the entire two-story building is made from recycled materials and relies on solar energy, natural light and ventilation! On top of all that, the water used to irrigate the landscape is recycled!

Rios Avenue Trail – EASY: Multiple One-Way Trails (Rios to I-5: 1.16 miles, Rios to El Camino Real: 2.86 miles, Rios to Pole Road: .96 mile; Gemma Parks Trail: 1.0 loop)

Directions: I-5 to Lomas Santa Fe exit, West on Lomas Santa Fe, Right on Rios Avenue, Drive to end of Rios Avenue, with street parking available

Free & Baby-Carrier Friendly (Stroller not recommended), Dog-Friendly

The Rios Avenue Trail actually features multiple trails depending on which direction and distance you are willing to go. If you’re looking for an easy one-mile loop, just east of the beginning of the Rio trailhead is the Gemma Parks Trail. Once you finish the loop, you can choose to continue further to explore the rest of the trails, just know that you’ll have to turn around to get back to where you started versus a simple loop.

The Rios Avenue Trails to include Gemma Parks Trail is also a relatively smooth walking trail. Since there is a little bit of a bumpy slope at the start of Rios Trail as it starts at the end of a residential street, this might be a good trail to wear your little one. If you want to make it work with a stroller, you can carry your baby down to the start of the trail and have someone else carry the stroller down separately. Not recommended if you are going it alone with a small child unless you wear them (or they can walk relatively independently).  

The views and landscape of the Rios Avenue Trail will be very similar to the Nature Center Loop, but you will get more of the lagoon, and are able to enjoy the coastal lands from a different perspective. Like the Nature Center Loop, you will also find benches and shaded areas where you can stop for a bit, but no picnic tables or facilities, so plan accordingly!

Another feature of the Rios Avenue Trail, you can catch a peak of the Annie’s Canyon Trail, the most strenuous of trails San Elijo Lagoon has to offer.

Annie’s Canyon Trail – MODERATE TO STRENUOUS: One Way, From N. Rios Ave. (0.6 miles), Annie’s Canyon (0.25 miles)

Directions: I-5 to Lomas Santa Fe exit, West on Lomas Santa Fe, Right on Rios Avenue, Drive to end of Rios Avenue, with street parking available

Free & Baby-Carrier Friendly *WITH A BUDDY* (Stroller not recommended)

If you’re looking for a walk that is a little bit strenuous, a lotta bit unique, and a tad adventurous, Annie’s Canyon Trail is a must on your Wish List. It’s such a short length that you don’t need to set aside your whole day to explore, but is such a wild experience, you will feel like you are no longer in San Diego County. Take our words for it, this is a place you have to see to believe.

The location is believed to have been a spiritual place for the Kumeyaay, the original native inhabitants of San Diego County. This fact only helps add to the sense of wonder of this space. During one part of the switchbacks, you’ll get to go into a hollowed out cave that was believed to be a shelter for the Kumeyaay!

There are two ways to experience Annie’s Canyon: (1) the moderate way takes you up to a beautiful overlook and you can do it while wearing a baby easily (2) the strenuous way with narrow switchbacks. If you are claustrophobic, proceed with caution!  

We have to admit, we haven’t experimented scaling the strenuous path, with its steep and narrow incline in the canyon, with a baby carrier. If you are interested in trying this out with babes in tow, maybe bring a buddy or make it a family affair. That way, if it’s too tough, or you’re not comfortable going up with the baby, you can take turns. Just proceed slowly and cautiously. Again, since it’s such a short trailhead, you have that luxury as long as you have a couple adults on hand. We don’t want to ruin the surprise of the experience, but the sandstone walls of the canyon eventually leads up to some steep and narrow switchbacks that can be tricky to maneuver. We’ve spotted young children scaling this with glee as well as senior citizens, so do not be intimidated!

Once you reach the top of the trail, enjoy the overlook for a few minutes and get an expansive view of the lagoon and Pacific Ocean from 200-feet above sea level!  

Insider Tips:

  • Dogs are allowed on all trails except Annie’s Canyon so plan accordingly.
  • Parking at the Nature Center is limited so we recommend visiting this trail on a weekday.
  • The First Sunday of each month is Family Fun Day at the Nature Center from 11:30 am to 1:30 pm.
  • Remember, this is a nature reserve which means that the land is protected! Resist the temptation to walk off trail and be sure to not disturb the plants or wildlife you may see.
  • If you have allergies, consider taking any remedies or medication beforehand to help ward off the sniffles and itchy eyes!
  • Bring plenty of water! It gets hot, ya’ll. Also be sure to wear hats, sunscreen, and anything else to protect from the sun. There are some shaded areas, but most of the trails have good stretches of direct sunlight.
  • Check out these pamphlets for information about the plants and animals that live on the reserve. Great learning resources for parents and children alike! Rios Trailhead & San Elijo Brochure
  • Notice a lot of construction around the lagoon? The San Elijo Lagoon Conservancy is in the middle of a multi-phase Restoration Project, which explains the construction and closed trails. Interested in learning more? Check out this page.  
True (Mom) Life: We Hired A Sleep Coach

One mom’s day-by-day account while using a coach to gently sleep train her baby

Context is everything when it comes to baby challenges. Some things just hit you harder than others. Sleep is my thing. Everything else we faced so far as new parents, I handled, to the best of my ability, with grace and patience. I accepted developmental milestones and understood they were both good signs and necessary. We weathered breastfeeding challenges with determination and optimism. But, take away my ability to rest, and remove my much-needed eight solid hours of daily self care at night, and the worst version of myself showed her face. Every little setback felt like a huge catastrophe, I was snappy, my moods could not be tempered, and to make matters worse, I was losing patience and lacked genuine energy to really be present with my baby during waking hours.

I knew something needed to change, but I had no idea where to start. When I became pregnant and did all the preparation I thought I needed to do, I hadn’t anticipated were all the theories, methods, and philosophies that just the first six months alone can entail. With each question asked of me by fellow parents (examples, just to name a few: “How do you feel about vaccines?” “When and how do you plan to introduce your baby to solids?” and the all-important “When will you sleep train? What method will you use?”), I felt a little more unprepared and overwhelmed. In short, I had no idea.

When my son’s sleep issues started to become more and more apparent, and I realized that I was losing too much of myself by waiting it out to see it improve (it also started to get worse), I told my partner it was time for some reinforcement.

Listen, I never even knew sleep coaches existed before having a child. I thought babies slept if you took care of their needs. Some better than others, but ultimately, the saying “Sleeping like a baby” suggested to me that it wouldn’t be a problem. Reality gave me something much more frightening, so much so, I’ll never use this expression. I did a lot of reading between December (when the sleep regression took hold) and March (when things got worse than I thought possible, and our sleep training attempts proved futile). I knew that cry it out was not for me, and likely going to be ineffective for my son (who showed me his tenacity when he cried for three hours when stuck in traffic on Thanksgiving). I knew that developmentally, I shouldn’t really start trying to train until he was six to six and a half months old. I knew that some, maybe even most, babies work it out by six months. When it got to be too much, I turned to a professional and a little over 15 days in, I can say with certainty that it was the smartest, and best, parenting decision we have made thus far.

Read below for my sleep-deprived account of our experience over the past two weeks with a sleep coach to help us get some zzz’s.

Day 1

Unofficially, we’ve been practicing the first part of our personalized sleep plan (see Disclaimer) for a few days before our launch to sleep training. Surprisingly, he’s taken to the initial adjustments fairly easily even though we didn’t really have a set routine in place while we were out of town for a few days.

Tonight was the first night of our sleep plan, but anyone who has had to execute a sleep plan or use a sleep coach may know that we really got our start from the moment he woke up this morning. That awake time sets a timer for me to plan our baby’s first nap, which is about 2 hours from wake time. Because I’ve been getting up 10-12 times in the night (I sh*t you not), my partner’s been taking on the early morning Daddy duties with baby while he gets ready for work This hour to two hours SUSTAINS me (I wasn’t able to do it the other day because he had to leave early and I about died).

The biggest hurdle during the daytime is making sure our son gets between three and three and a half hours of sleep, and that he gets a nap in within a three hour window before bedtime. He’s good about napping, but doesn’t nap too long. This means we need to find creative ways to get him to hit that three-hour nap goal. Today, it meant driving around for an hour while we did errands and timing it just right so there would be between 2 and 3 hours before bedtime.

A lot of math and time keeping is involved, I’m learning. Tonight, our math checked out. We managed to get him to sleep at bedtime without falling asleep on the breast also, which was another goal. Mission accomplished. He woke up for the first time an hour and ten minutes later, which means that progress is looking slow but, I’m feeling positive….for now.   

Day 2

I had to help our baby 14 times in the night to keep him sleeping in the nursery. 14 times over a 11 to 12 hour period! This has been the norm the past few weeks, hence the dire need for sleep coach. I told my partner this morning that, were it not for the sleep coach, I probably would be near nervous breakdown levels of panic. Instead, this morning, I’m feeling very optimistic. Dare I say, even, proud.

For starters, in the past, especially lately, I’ve been so tired that I fall asleep with the baby in my arms while nursing in bed. It doesn’t help that this has been the best way to ensure we both sleep longer than 40 minute stretches at night, sometimes even up to two hours. Of course, my whole body would be cramped and tense when I would wake up, we’d both be sweating, and yeah, SIDS risk, so I did not like the way I felt the next morning knowing I had done this multiple times in a night. Still, easier said than done in the moment, especially when the little one revolts with the strength and will power of 1000 men to ensure he is not placed on a surface but my arms in the middle of the night. He has more stamina than I in those wee hours. HE ALWAYS WINS.

Last night, he didn’t win (but ultimately, that is a win for us both….ah, parenting). I got creative, and my partner and I slept in the guest room right next to the nursery instead of our master bedroom, which is down the hall from the nursery. Proximity proved key. For every waking, I made sure to take my robe (so I wouldn’t be uncomfortable/freeze), and made myself sit in the rocker for feedings, which is a less comfortable sleeping apparatus for me. I used my phone to keep me alert, and am happy to report that he didn’t keep me up longer than 20 minutes. So, 14 wakings, but all under 20 minutes, made for a tolerable night shift.

Day 3

First, a quick report on the night. Eight wakings. Down from 14! Part of the reason though: three of those were over 30 minutes. One waking lasted 38 minutes (and felt like five hours). We had an unexpected breakthrough to top it off. Arlo found out about rolling over and sleeping on his tummy. I’ve been told by other moms that this was the only way their children learned to sleep through the night, but I was unsure Arlo would get there. Everything I read told me to wait until they did it on their own. Well, out of nowhere, he did it last night. He wouldn’t even let me put him down on his back, he’d be rolling as I lowered him down. I barely slept all night because I checked his monitor incessantly (and that’s even with the Owlet Sleep Sock), but I’m pretty excited.

Day 4

Today, the fatigue has returned or rather is taking its toll. My attempts to get our child to nap on schedule and at a reasonable length have been futile today. At 3 PM, I was feeling exhausted and that familiar dreadful defeated feeling as I rocked my baby in the nursery. I’ve developed a sort of PTSD-response whenever it’s time to put him to sleep. I have this slightly unsubstantiated fear that it is very possible he will just NOT go to sleep, ever, and I’ll be up for a full 12 to 24 hours with my baby wide awake but crying and fussy and me helpless. Eventually, falls asleep and the fear dissipates for at least 60 minutes.

We  deferred from our routine, and come 2:40 PM, I was feeling all sorts of regret, angst, and utter fear about that. By this time, he hadn’t slept more than an hour collectively in the day, meaning I needed to find a way to get him to sleep another two hours of day sleep to set him up for a successful bedtime. BUT I WAS SO TIRED.

Fast-forward to the evening, and we did it. We successfully had a two hour nap. I say “we” because I too slept on the floor of the nursery for the first hour and a half, before I brought him with me to the guest bed for a 30 minute siesta/dream feed. It worked and we got to log in our time.  

Today is the most tired I’ve been in at least a couple weeks, but at 9:38 PM, I feel renewed. Dad was able to get baby to sleep in 13 minutes! Tonight was the first night for Dad to be responsible for putting baby to bed, and that meant I needed to relinquish control for the first time. I set a 20 minute alarm for myself, before I’d go upstairs to wait and see if he needed help with the “drop” before starting to stream Amazon (to help drown out any fussing or tears). About ten minutes passed by and I turned on the monitor to get an update. Just as I did, I saw my hubs slowly lowering baby into the crib. Baby kicked once and then flopped over to his side, asleep. I WAS SO PROUD.

About 40 minutes later however, I heard the familiar stirs and groans that signaled a waking. I gathered my things downstairs and prepared myself mentally (still feeling positive about the easy bedtime execution). I hadn’t even left the living room when I realized that our child put himself back to sleep! I DON’T THINK I’VE EVER BEEN THIS PROUD. He fell asleep at 7:28 PM, it is now 9:42 PM. I can assure you, my son has not slept this long without needing one of us to go in the room in a month, maybe more. I don’t even know what to do with myself. Sleep. Go to sleep, woman.

Day 8

All weekend, I was looking forward to our first check-in call with our sleep coach. It happened today and for some reason, since the call, I’ve felt a little deflated. Things have gone so well that I was expecting to hear immense accolades. We were praised and told we were doing great, sure. But, we also were reminded that things might go backwards as our son is getting closer and closer to crawling. Teething is also just about to rear its ugly head, I can feel it. My husband is starting to show fatigue and now we’re moving ahead with cutting back feeds, which our sleep coach warned might mean increased wakings. Our end goal is to be able to put him down awake, but we’re not there yet. Until then, it’s just hang in and focus on the small changes. Today, that’s feeling just a little bit tougher.

There’s always a rainbow after a storm, and this evening, maybe a half hour after I said good night to my son, my partner came down from upstairs and quickly turned on the baby monitor. We both watched (me in mild horror) as my son rocked on hands and knees in the dark. “He’s still awake,” I told my husband. He was not supposed to leave him awake in the crib. That wasn’t part of the plan. “Go back up,” I told him. But then just as quickly, I realized that our baby was not making a peep. He was just rocking on his knees then plopping down on his belly. Up again and then plopping back down. He was trying to put himself to sleep, and this time, he didn’t feel the need to call out for help to do so. Sure enough, he succeeded on his own.

Day 9

This day was another special challenge for our family as I had a pre-planned commitment to go to Los Angeles for the day, not expecting to return until late into the night. I’d be gone at least 12 hours, which is the longest I’ve been away from our son. I wasn’t too worried about how Dad would handle things in my absence, but a little nervous about if my absence would increase wakings, reduce nap time, and essentially set back all our progress.

All that worrying made it easy for me to forget an essential part to my breast pump which made it impossible for me to pump while away. I was only able to hand express to relieve discomfort. After a brief panic, I calmed myself down. Luckily, things back home seemed to be going better.

I got short updates and some pictures and videos to inform their progress. I held back my impulse to tell my husband that bathtime was an hour later than we had discussed, which made dinner time and bedtime later than we normally do. Once I stepped away from my impulse to critique, I was filled with pride for both my boys. It might be nice to feel needed, but it’s almost a better feeling to know that things don’t crumble without you. My son adapted to the changes, was fine with Dad, and our sleep progress continued as normal in my absence.

Day 10

As I shared yesterday, being gone thankfully didn’t have any real impact on the progress we’ve made with sleep training. Once I was home and able to pump, I settled back into bed with enough time to feed my son for his 2nd/last feed of the night. How did he let me know everything was okay? He allowed us all to sleep in until 7:30 AM. We had to wake HIM up. What a nice change.

Now, I am about to have to go up and wake him again because he’s been napping for two hours! I’m also kicking myself for not sleeping when baby sleeps especially since I am running on only a couple solid hours of it from last night.

It’s been ten days today and looking back to when we first started, I am a little perplexed, a lot cautious, and also so proud to see that we’ve essentially gone from 10 to 14 wakings per night, all nursed to sleep and on-demand, to five to six wakings in total with two of those being scheduled feeds. Our son is sleeping in the crib pretty exclusively, and maybe only gives us a hard time once in the night.

We’re not done, maybe just a third to halfway through our plan, but for the first time in forever, I am feeling optimistic and hopeful that my son will be able to sleep well in the night, and that sleep for me, real sleep, is on the horizon.

Day 14

Last night was Day 2 of only one feeding per night. The first night was a little wonky because our baby woke up at 5:00 AM and did not want to go back to bed, which led to an early wake up and early nap and had me a little rattled. Last night, however, our son only had one waking around 10:30 PM. At 3 AM, I woke up a bit terrified. My husband was out of the bedroom and it was 3 in the morning and I hadn’t been woken up since that 10:30 PM waking. I checked the monitor and saw my husband sleeping on the floor next to the crib. My son was still sleeping. After a little while, I went in and decided to do a “dream feed” with my son to make sure he was able to sleep through to his 6:00 AM or later wake up time (I also woke my husband and told him to get his butt back to bed).

After that one feeding, my son slept in until 7:00 AM. He woke up and quietly played and cooed in the crib for a few minutes before we went to get him. I’m a bit awestruck just typing this.

Then, tonight, when my husband was getting him to bed at bedtime, he again was able to leave him in the crib awake but quiet and sleepy. He rocked a little on his knees, changed positions here and there, but eventually fell asleep on his own. I wouldn’t believe it myself if I hadn’t seen it with my own eyes.

Day 15

Our son had a night similar to the night before. Only one waking around 10 PM and another at 3:30 AM, with that 3:30 AM time his one scheduled feed. I find myself now feeling so much more positive, with a better outlook on sleep, hell, a better outlook on life and on parenting. Sure, who knows how long it will last before something else becomes challenging, but we have come out on the other side of a bad, long fog.

15 days. I keep telling myself that because it’s really quite remarkable to believe it myself. I’m sure it doesn’t always work this quickly for everyone. But, I’m also certain that it isn’t as necessary for a lot of people either. There’s really no way of knowing from an outside perspective. I will say this: back in December, my instincts told me that my son’s sleep issues would require more attention and professional help. I knew in my gut that he was not going to figure it out on his own. I hung in there until I felt he was ready to do it successfully. Still, even though I was optimistic, I wasn’t expecting this much progress so soon.

One other thing I didn’t expect was how much these 15 days improved my relationship with my partner, whom I have probably been unnecessarily hard on. I felt lost over how to get our son to sleep, but at the same time, I got frustrated with him when he appeared aloof or distressed about how to help me. Now, I see a new confidence forming in him as a parent and my trust in him has grown exponentially. Having someone coach us helped guide us, and now I rely on my husband more. He’s actually much better at handling calming down our son than I have ever been without offering the breast. As a family, we are enjoying the bedtime routine we’ve put into place and I no longer feel the mix of dread and relief when it’s time to get him to bed. To have so much change in such a short period of time still has me a bit nervous about things reverting back to what they were. But, even when that fear sets in, I remind myself that we now have the tools to help our son, and our son now knows too what he can do to get to sleep on his own. He’ll definitely still have moments throughout his childhood where he needs our help or comfort at night (we wouldn’t have it any other way), but now we can be more at ease about nurturing him during thought rough times without the fear of sacrificing months of sleep in the process.

If this was tl:dr for you, here’s a quick summation: our experience with a sleep coach was worth its weight in gold. We’re still not done, but the end is in sight when it comes to the training part of our son’s sleep journey. With these 15 days behind us, I am feeling much more restored having gained back precious hours each night of sleep, and we are equipped with a deeper knowledge of what our son needs and the person he is becoming.

For those of you debating whether or not it is time to pull the trigger and reach out to a sleep coach, I would wholeheartedly say, “DO IT!” If the fees are a concern, our sleep coach has workshops both online and in person that she offers, which can provide enough information to give sleep training on your own a try. Whatever you decide, don’t suffer alone, moms. Ask for help, but be careful where you get advice and how much. Though people have the best intentions, every baby is different and every household, schedule, and parent is different. Advice can only go so far if you don’t also find a way to tailor it to fit your child’s needs, your needs, and your family’s needs.

May the counting sheep, cow jumping over the moon, and twinkle little stars out there grace you fellow sleep-less parents with more sleep-filled nights than even your wildest dreams can imagine. Hang in there. One day, one day…  

Recommended Reading

The Sleep Lady’s Good Night Sleep Tight: Gentle Proven Solutions to Help Your Child Sleep Well and Wake Up Happy, by Kim West

Loved to Sleep: Nurture Your Baby to Sleep with Minimal to No Crying, by Jen Varela and Andrea Strang