Full confession: When my baby was 2 months old, I hired a sleep consultant.
Hold up. Hadley, Aren't YOU a sleep consultant?!
Yep! But in that moment I was also a new mom. My baby was doing a great job overnight but she had a serious love affair with her Ergo at nap time. My chiropractor took one look at my warped back and sat me down for a serious chat: my infant wasn't getting any lighter, nor was she showing signs of loving her bassinet during the day.
Sleep consultant or not, exhaustion is no joke. It's not particularly fair that women are expected to create tiny humans, give birth to them, not sleep for a few months... but still function like rational human beings. As a new mom of two, I felt overwhelmed by life so couldn't decide on a sleep strategy and stick with it.
One day I reached my breaking point.
As soon as my husband arrived home from work, I launched into a long-winded rant. "I can't keep doing this… my body is literally breaking… If I have to put her in the carrier one more time, I'll lose it… I make sleep plans for other peoples' babies, WHERE IS MY PLAN?!"
He took one look at my crazy eyes and calmly suggested that I call a colleague for help.
I ignored his advice. For the next few days, I grumbled about how it was silly to pay good money for this—I was a sleep consultant and soon my baby would recognize my genius. Anyway, the sleep situation would magically improve on its own, right?
Spoiler alert: It didn't.
I admitted defeat. Doctors make the worst patients and, apparently, sleep consultants make the worst clients. I called a colleague, over-apologized for the fact that I couldn't figure this out myself, and threw myself humbly at her feet for advice.
After ending the call, I already felt better. I had a plan. All the doubt, confusion, and feelings of failure disappeared and I felt reinvigorated to tackle my daughter's nap time shenanigans. Suddenly, I felt like I could.
And it worked.
I tried not to overthink things, followed the plan, and hoped for the best. Within a few days, my daughter had made some progress. There was light at the end of the tunnel.
A week later, she was no longer attached to me for half the day like a demented marsupial. I felt like I could breathe again. (I could also cook, clean, watch TV, and work while she was napping in the other room). Amen.
Here are my takeaways from this experience:
- My daughter is not impressed that I'm a sleep consultant. Despite the many tricks I have up my sleeve, she's much smarter than me.
- Parents face very real barriers to reaching out for sleep help. You might feel ridiculous that you can't solve the problem yourself. You might worry that it won't work. You might worry that it's not worth the investment, both in terms of your time and your hard-earned cash. Or you might not be able to find the mental bandwidth to even ask for help. I get it. I was there.
- Sometimes you need your village. I had an arsenal of knowledge at my disposal and should have been able to find the answer myself. But when you're a sleep-deprived new mom, it's hard to solve anything alone. Sometimes you need to take a step back and get some perspective which, for me, meant farming out the process to a trusted individual.
So I'm here—in humble, full-confession mode—to say: if you're struggling with your baby's sleep, it's okay if you need some extra help. Go for it. Whether that means reaching out to a professional (doesn't have to be me!), your pediatrician or a very wise friend, it's worth it.