A Sleep Deprived Mother’s Tale: Breaking the Baby Sleep Stigma

I am on a mission to ensure that no parent endures the pain of exhaustion, overwhelm, and relentless questioning of their value and self-worth when they have a child that consistently does sleep well.

I help parents tenderly and gently teach their children the “skills of sleep” so that their child has lifelong sleep habits, which results in a family system where ALL family members enjoy a full and well-rested life.

Below is an important and inspiring recounting of sleep deprived mother’s journey from overwhelm and self-doubt to feeling confident and balanced.

She is now living a well-rested life and reconnecting to her family vision.

With proper sleep, families can enjoy the keys to life: health, harmony, and vitality.

A Sleep Deprived Mother’s Tale: Breaking the Baby Sleep Stigma

A True Story By Kathleen Poorman

Her daughter was 19 months at time of Guilt-Free, Gentle Sleep Coaching

You’re texting one of your mommy friends and she suddenly asks “How’s your 6 month old doing with sleep?  Is she sleeping through the night yet?”  Your mind flashes back to the hour you spent walking and bouncing her last night, just like every night, pleading with her to please just go to sleep.  You remember how heavy her body gets after 5 minutes in.  You think about the list of things waiting for you when she’s finally asleep: the laundry, the dishes you haven’t done in days, the shower you never got this morning.  Forget the things you want to do.  This is sleep deprived survival mode.  

Your fingers hover over the phone, your mind racing to come up with something positive to say.  You don’t want to look bad. You can’t admit you truly don’t know what to do to help your child sleep better. You’re her mom, your mother’s intuition should be on this by now, right?  So you text back “She’s doing pretty well.  Still learning how to fall asleep but I’m sure she’ll figure it out soon!” 

There.  That should keep her from asking again for a couple weeks.  You hit send and let the mommy guilt wash over you like the hot shower you never got. 

This is the full weight of the baby sleep stigma we hold over ourselves invisibly.  We feel trapped by what others will think of us if they knew the full truth.  But what if we told each other the truth, and put the stigma to rest for good?  What if by doing this, we could spread the knowledge of how to help each other, and we ALL SLEPT?  

Let me be the first to rip the cover off the baby sleep stigma.  Let me tell you my story.

Our child was never what we would call a good sleeper.  Not knowing what to do, I Googled ways to DIY our own solution, but came away more confused than ever.  We stumbled our way into a mess of “sleep crutches”, or things that a child requires you to do for them before they can fall asleep.  We kept adding new ones over time, thinking they’d be the final fix to help her sleep through the night. 

At 16 months of age, she had a whopping 7 sleep crutches.  She’d become the proud owner of our guest mattress (on the floor of her room) because she wouldn’t fall asleep without me beside her, and was too heavy to move into a crib once asleep.  She’d ninja kick, roll around, and pull escape acts repeatedly.  It wasn’t uncommon for this routine to take over an hour before I could try to sneak out of her room.  Bonus points if she didn’t wake up!  Four hours later, she’d be up again, crying for me.  When my husband tried to help her, she’d scream for me until she threw up.  I’d spend the rest of my night on her mattress in impossibly uncomfortable positions.  It was infuriating chaos.

After several months of getting little to no sleep this way, I finally lost it.  I hadn’t had a solid 8 hours of sleep since before the “squished bladder” stage of pregnancy.  I told my husband something had to change or I was sleeping somewhere else.  Taking the first real step towards sanity, I did what seemed unthinkable.  I asked for help. 

I called a professional sleep coach named Joanna Clark (owner of Blissful Baby Sleep Coaching) who taught my husband and I what we didn’t know about sleep.  She listened to our story, taught us the science behind our daughter’s sleep needs, and created a plan with us that we carried out with her continual guidance.  We did weeks of prework to set the stage and then devoted time each day to sleep training.  We were consistent and made it the main priority for that month.  It took lots of hard work, but almost anything worth having does. 

We were stunned when our sleepless child became a “good sleeper” in a matter of days.  To compare, her bedtime now includes reading 2 books, laying her in her crib, saying goodnight, and closing her door behind us.  Either my husband or I can do this routine.  She falls asleep on her own quietly and sleeps a solid 11-12 hours each night.  It is a true night and day difference.

We had been missing two things: A solid education on a baby’s sleep, and the guts to ask for help.

It was really hard calling Joanna and admitting that I didn’t know what to do with my own child.  I was afraid of being judged by others for needing help.  I also wondered “How could a complete stranger know my child’s needs better than my intuition?”

It took asking for help to realize that sometimes, asking for help is what your mother’s intuition is telling you to do.  It’s starved for knowledge until you give it something to run on. 

Once I finally slept and regained brain cells I’d done without for 2 years, I realized I was mad.  Why didn’t I know to do this sooner?   Where was this information in the pregnancy books or in my midwives’ handouts?  And even worse, why did I feel like the only one struggling in the first place?

We got brave and decided that it was time to share our whole story with everyone who’d listen.  The more we shared, the more we realized how many people are struggling with the same problems.  We heard repeatedly “Our grandson doesn’t sleep through the night and he’s 5!”  Or “They spend hours trying to get their kids to sleep!”  Oddly enough, the truth came mostly from grandparents or relatives, hardly ever from the parents themselves.  And no one knew what to offer them for help.

Maybe, just maybe, we don’t know what to do because we don’t talk about it. 

Imagine how my story could have changed if I had said to my friend via text “You know, she’s not sleeping well at all.  I just don’t know what to do to help her.”  What if she had been in the same boat before, and had asked for help and gotten it, and now knew to pass it on to me?  What would it be like if we truly believed it was ok to not know it all on our own? 

I’d love for every sleep deprived parent to find out.

And so, I am prying away the talons of baby sleep stigma by sharing my story with you.  I am shouting it from the rooftops that IT IS OK TO NOT KNOW!  I am unapologetically saying that I, a mother, needed baby sleep help and asked for it.  And I’m begging you, if this is you as well, to step out from the shadows of self-shame, ask for help, and pass along the torch.  It’s up to us to offer honesty and gain so much in return. 

We may all sleep better for it. 

Kathleen Poorman, Jasper, GA. Her Daughter was 19 months at time of sleep coaching.  

DO YOU WANT A SAFE PLACE TO TALK ABOUT YOUR CHILD SLEEP STRUGGLES?

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Mothers are Amazing and Astounding Human Beings!

Mothers are Amazing and Astounding Human Beings!

Happy Mothers Day 2018!!! Please take a bow of recognition for how many wonderful things you do for your family and our community on a daily basis. Please take a moment to relish in the fact that you and all mothers are astounding and totally amazing human beings! Read more to experience a clever and and insightful “scoop” on all the millions of things mothers do to earn the very special title of “Mother”.

Matresses for Babies: What is the safe choice?

Baby Sleeping on Memory Foam Mattress.png

Is it Safe for a Baby to Sleep on a Non-Organic Memory Foam Mattress

Memory foam is a fantastic sleeping surface for adults because it shapes after your body and keeps your spine aligned. But does this means it’s equally beneficial for babies?

Many parents worry that because memory foam is an artificial product designed using certain chemical compounds, the baby may be affected. Are these concerns valid?

First, it’s important to understand that, even though it supports the same material, a memory foam mattress for babies doesn’t come with the same features as one for adults. Mattresses created for adults are softer on the surface, to allow the body to sink in a bit. However, this feature can be problematic for babies because there is a risk of suffocation. This is why mattresses designed for babies are firm and have high responsiveness.

The Special Design

The mattress that is designed especially for the crib comes with a different construction compared to one designed for an adult. The producer uses a different process and the bed is built for babies from the ground up. This also means no harmful chemicals are used, even if the mattress has that memory foam specific smell when you first remove the cover.

The surface is firm and responsive and the baby has the necessary back support to grow healthy and strong. Even more, because the mattress is very comfortable, the baby will sleep better so there will be less crying and fussing.

The Concerns

There are two main concerns raised by parents when it comes to memory foam: the chemicals and the SIDS (sudden infant death syndrome).

About the chemicals, there was no report about babies suffering from any toxicity. There may have been babies that developed an allergic reaction, but this doesn’t happen just with memory foam. Some babies develop reactions to latex and this is a 100% natural material. Some babies just don’t support the material and if this happens, you must talk to your doctor and change the mattress.

The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends babies sleep on their back and in an independent sleep space to avoid any issues with soft mattresses or pillows. Typically a foam mattress is not appropriate for babies in cribs. If you’re still worried something may happen, ask for a mattress with a special cover that allows the air to flow. This way, even if the baby does roll over and gets stuck on their face, they will still be able to breathe.

Don’t Mix and Match

It’s very important to understand that your baby shouldn’t sleep in bed with you, on an adult memory foam mattress! The risks of SDIS on an adult mattress are high even when you are lying next to your baby. If you decided to go with a special bed for the crib, use it at all times!

Always Buy from Trusted Brands

Memory foam is a versatile material and producers can use all sorts of chemicals into the mix. Also, the level of firmness can easily be altered by the producer so make sure to buy only from brands you trust. If you are at your first baby and don’t know which brand to choose, ask other parents and read reviews online.

It may seem like a tedious task but nothing is more important than the safety of your baby! Take a look at forums and ask family and friends. There are some amazing brands out there, and some even offer a decent price.

Overall, when the mattress is built with babies’ needs in mind, such a surface can help your baby sleep better and grow healthy and strong. It may be a bit scary when you first start looking for a reliable product, but it is definitely worth the effort!

(researched and written by Jen Druski...who loves to write)