Sleep Training with Grace: Part 2

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Sleep can be elusive with a new addition to the family and sometimes it takes an expert to help first time parents to navigate the groggy haze. In Bangkok, one mom shares her story of sleep training and how Grace, the baby whisperer, saved her sanity.

 

By Lucy O’Donoghue

 

Read Part 1 to this story by clicking here.

 

Redefining normal

Grace came for five nights, her usual package, arriving just as I put my son to bed to guide me in the bedtime routine. The first couple of nights definitely took a bit of work. I was up several times to really work on helping him get back to sleep without as much as before. On night one I was nursing him twice, night two I was nursing him once and just calming him with other means for the other waking.

The key with Grace is that she encourages parents to be the primary learners. Sure, the babies need to learn but the parents often need to learn even more. Unlike a preachy book that is going to label all other methods ‘nonsense’ or ‘cruel and damaging’, Grace is there, in your baby’s bedroom, seeing your situation and getting creative about how to solve it.

For example, my babe was not doing great with solids. A combination of trying baby led weaning, plus frankly the stress of exams, absent husbands and a dog driving me mental. I’m still a fan of BLW, but I was ready to follow Grace’s lead when she gently suggested trying to get some puree into him to help fill him up through the night. I know people debate this point, and it wasn’t replacing milk feeds, but frankly – I was paying her to get us on track. I was ready to listen to her and forget those in the cheap seats.

She didn’t just tell me to feed him puree; she actually sat there and did it for me and got him eating. Within a week he’d gone from no interest in a spoon to actually eating three meals a day.

Grace left us after five days and my son was still waking once, at 2am. Grace suspected that this was linked to the solids question. With the skills she’d given me, my husband and our home help, however, she assured us it wouldn’t take more than a few days to tease out that 2am waking and she was right. Two days later the ‘sleeping through the night’ began properly and I mean 11 hours, straight.

Sleep Regression?

Nap times also were on the up; until ten days later. Uh oh. Family visiting, serious teething (confirmed by the doctor) and a wonder week.  Then he woke during the night a couple of times! Yikes! A real test. For a few days it all seemed to fall apart (in my melodramatic mind).  “Oh I’m undoing EVERYTHING!” I sighed despairingly.

It was all the more traumatic after having experienced such sleepy bliss for a few days. The thought that it might all just slip through my fingers into a big, deep abyss of parental incompetence was to much to handle. Because we all know that when babies won’t sleep, parents are squarely and fairly the ones who are incompetent, right?! RIGHT?!

I finally contacted Grace again, and she kindly spent a little bit of time with me on the phone. I explained that I wanted to cut nursing out of the nap time routine. Not that I would let him go to bed hungry but to nurse him before starting the nap time (and bedtime) routine. He kicked up a bit of a fuss the first couple of times, but within 48 hours, I could barely believe it myself – he was down with it. “I still get my milkie,” he said to his friend at the next play date, “no need to worry there, but I just don’t get to do my whole ‘sleepy milk drunk on mummy’ routine anymore.  Meh, I guess I can live with that.”

Indeed, the teething passed, the wonder week was over and the family headed on. Things settled down as I continued to apply the same strategy she taught us, just tailored to take account of these sleep obstacles. That’s the beauty of her technique, you can get things back on track when life takes it’s usual unavoidable turns.

Thinking of doing the same?

What about the cost?  Well, I don’t know what trainers cost in other countries, but if I divided the cost by my typical hourly rate in my last job (and I’m an economist by background so that’s what we tend to do, limitations of such equations aside)…I would have ‘earned back’ the cost of the training within a few days of work.  I must have spent way more than a few days worth trying to get the babe to sleep that perhaps I could have avoided with her earlier help. In that sense, it was absolutely money well spent and really, can you put a price on more and better sleep for all and everyone in the family?!

I liked Grace because she was gentle, creative and put it back in our hands wherever possible. There was a little bit of crying, but really not more than a few minutes on occasion. In my humble opinion, it was very little crying for very amazing results. The key is being ready to do as much learning as your babe will do and to be comfortable with the trainer and her style.

 

photo by Tricia CC BY 2.0

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