Like many co-sleeping, breastfeeding mothers, Cherrell, a former labor and delivery nurse, is tired. But she didn't realize quite how tired she was until she recorded a night of sleep for Motherly. In the now viral time-lapse video posted to our Facebook page, viewers can watch as Cherrell and her husband co-sleep with their 17 month old toddler, Cleo, nestled between them. Throughout the night, Cleo sleeps restlessly, while Cherrell breastfeeds often to soothe her. Needless to say, Cherrell woke up the next morning, exhausted.
In our State of Motherhood survey, we found that 93% of mothers report feeling burned out and 89% report getting less than 8 hours of sleep each night. Cherrell's restless night of sleep shows a glimpse into all the unseen work moms do, and with 25 million views on Facebook, her experience is striking a chord with mothers everywhere.
In an interview with Motherly, Cherell shares her reaction to the video, why she decided to co-sleep with her daughter and her search for a sleep consultant. Check out her story and the co-sleeping video below.
When Cherrell first watched the video, she tells Motherly her first reaction was, "Ummm did I even sleep?!" Though she knew it had been a difficult night's sleep, "In my mind it didn't look like that. I was shocked to see how short those waking intervals actually were."
Regarding her child's sleep journey, Cherrell writes, "I actually never intended to co-sleep. I always envisioned I would, but I tried it once or twice when my oldest daughter was little, and quickly realized it wasn't for me, or her for that matter. But Cleo has obviously been a whole different story."
Cherrell made the decision to co-sleep with Cleo when she came down with RSV, a common and acute viral respiratory infection that can cause some respiratory complications, at two weeks old.
"We ended up pulling Cleo into our bed around that time to keep an eye on her respiratory efforts, and help her maintain a more upright position. After she recovered, I did try and have her sleep in the bassinet, but she never once slept longer then one to two hour stretches, so just to manage, I brought her in bed with us."
Still recovering from her delivery in the midst of the pandemic, Cherrell decided it was easier for her to breastfeed Cleo by her side at waking intervals than it was to get up, feed and change her and get both she and the baby back to sleep. Like many moms going through this phase, finding any way to any way to cut corners to get more rest and recovery is worth it.
Cherrell tells Motherly, "It's definitely been an exhausting phase in my motherhood journey to say the least. While we've unsuccessfully tried a ton of different (sleep training) strategies over the last year, we now have a new plan in place with a sleep consultant to help us transition Cleo to her own bed in the next coming weeks. We are all looking forward to it, as you can imagine, so I am soaking up these last nights with her by my side."
Watch the viral time-lapse video:
While the pros and cons of co-sleeping and sleep training will likely be debated until the end of time, messages of support for this tired mama on Facebook have been overwhelming.
A few of our favorites:
Swati B. - "Yeah.. thats what i am doing every single night. It is exhausting, but still i prefer co sleeping. It gives me time to lie down and nurse. Also to an anxious mother like me, gives a mental relief that my baby is doing fine. Lots of love and huge respect to all the mommies out there. We are together in this. "
Laura M. - "Even without BF any more, I feel this! The coughs, the sighs, the cries, the coos, the sniffles, the roll overs..A mama really never clocks off. Even my own 68 year old mother doesn't!Being a mama is not easy, but it is amazing "
Fabiola S. - "I know this isn't helpful or any relief to those in this situation now, but man... I kind of miss this. Having had our last baby, the bond of breastfeeding, and little tiny baby cuddles is hard to get over. Even now as he sleeps with me, his feet touch my knees and I can't help but remember when his whole body would bury itself into my chest. Time goes by too fast!"
And to all the tired mamas out there, in whichever way you are managing to get some rest, you've got this.