Man, I remember being discharged from hospital after birthing Max. Y’know, as in actually walking out of the hospital with my brand new real life baby?!
I can only imagine the midwives would have thought I looked completely & utterly shellshocked, with my shellshocked face all like … what?! You actually trust me to take this brand new human life out of your hospital, put it into a car seat, drive it home safely, & then go on to attempt pulling off caring for said human life until it’s eighteen years old (& beyond)?!
I remember wheeling Max out of the hospital in his little hospicrib, & I was just staring down at him thinking, oh my God, I made this little life & now they’re trusting me to wheel it right on out of their hospital?!
Suffice to say we did just that. And we’ve been doing a reasonably good job at raising that little life for the 3.3 years that have passed since that very first day way back when we strapped him into his car seat, & drove him home.
The day I discharged from sleep school with Frankie last week took me right back to that shellshocked ‘brand new parent’ feeling. Truly, seriously. I mean as much as I obviously missed Max, … I didn’t entirely want to go home & return to the crime scene. The place where all of the sleep was stolen. The place where I felt like I lost my parenting confidence at the hands of a baby who seemed to be able to defy sleep, no matter what interventions we put in place.
Y’know, I almost think if someone had (in that very moment where I actually had to walk out of sleep school) instead offered me a permanent residence for myself, Dave, Max & Frankie? Well, I’d have said, sure, we’ll move in tomorrow!
I mean, I’m obviously joking, but also kinda … not.
I just feel like those nurses know everything about getting a baby to sleep that I don’t, just like I felt like all of the midwives knew everything about newborn care that I didn’t when I was discharging from hospital after the birth of baby Max.
But just like we had to strap Max into his car seat, & get on with the business of raising our brand new baby. So too did we have to discharge from sleep school, & get on with the business of getting Frankie to sleep, … & keeping her asleep!
And that’s what we’ve been doing ever since.
Sleep school was our last resort.
Now that I have actually been to sleep school with Frankie, I can still say that I do truly believe sleep school should remain a last resort for parents. You just really should try every other way to get a baby to sleep before you try sleep school, but if every other way doesn’t work, then by all means, … consider sleep school.
When we were admitted to Masada, we were at our parenting rock bottom. And when I looked around at some of the other Mothers, I got the sense that they were all at their own versions of parenting rock bottom too. I mean let’s face it, parenting shouldn’t have to feel like a torture camp, but for the last seven’ish months or so, that’s exactly what our nights with Frankie had begun to feel like.
I mean, of course I knew the newborn days would be exhausting. They are, they’re exhausting. But y’see that’s why those happy hormones kick in, & that’s why the adrenalin kicks in, & it seemingly doesn’t wear off until three’ish months or so when you’ve usually found some kind of rhythm with breastfeeding, & the accompanying occasional bursts of growth spurt-y cluster feeding, & sleeping. And so then that newborn bubble goes & bursts, & your baby is that little bit less newborn-like, & so she’s feeding that little bit less, & sleeping that little bit more.
Unless she’s Frankie, of course. Frankie just seemed to kinda stay in newborn land with her sleeping & feeding schedules, whilst all of my friends babes seemingly went on to start stretching their feeds out, & stretching their sleeps out. Christ, some even started sleeping through?!
My happy hormones were no more. And the adrenalin? Ha!
Fast forward to 7.5 months, & despite the introduction of solids, & an incredibly healthy appetite & eager acceptance of all things solid, Frankie still actually breastfed like a newborn. So … every 2.5-3’ish hours during the day, & then every 2 hours overnight. Seven and a half months of this newborn-like feeding schedule, & I remember one night despairing over the fact that the newborn-ness might never actually end.
I snapped. Really snapped. I guess it had everything to do with the ongoing newborn-ness, & the no more happy hormones/adrenalin that usually accompanies life with a newborn & helps to make it feel somewhat achievable. I realised then that perhaps we’d been doing the newborn thing for a little bit too long, or I should say I had been doing the newborn thing for a little bit too long. After all, it was I who was waking to feed her like you would a newborn all night, every night.
We tried everything to get this kid to sleep. And when that didn’t work? We put ourselves on the waitlist for sleep school. And when that waitlist was something like ten weeks long? Well, … I had a bit of a meltdown really.
And so we were fast tracked. And thank God, really.
Prior to sleep school, Frankie woke every forty-five minutes overnight, required multiple attempts at resettling, & then two hourly breastfeeds. Even then, she just didn’t seem … happy?!
After one week at Masada, we’d got rid of her dummy, dropped the dreamfeed, & still had her sleeping from 7pm – 7am every night?!
Better than all of that sleeping though? She was, & is, … happy.
How? Well, it was almost too simple actually. We stopped swaddling her, we put her into a grobag, we learnt that she was a tummy sleeper, we took away the dummy & replaced it with a comforter that had spent a week down my top prior to our admission, we stretched her milk feeds out, which meant less snacking & more actual filling up on said milk, & when she grizzled? We learnt to pat her back to sleep, as opposed to chucking a breast into her mouth.
She responded beautifully. She has continued to respond beautifully. And as for me, … well, I’m feeling a little more human, & a lot more joyful as each day passes.
And if it continues to be this good? Well, it’ll be one of the best parenting decisions we’ve ever made.
N.B // This was our experience at sleep school. Please don’t be influenced by what is essentially our own experience with our own baby. I would hate for anyone to read this post, be influenced to admit themselves & their babies to Masada as a direct result of this post, have an entirely different experience, & then blame me.
For us, it was like Frankie wanted to sleep, but just didn’t have the right tools in place to go about the business of sleeping. We were still swaddling her at 7.5 months old, because we were stupid & lacked the common sense courtesy of our sleep deprivation to recognise that she was too old to still be swaddled. Believe me, we did try to discontinue swaddling, but she responded horribly, & I … lost my confidence entirely.
We were one of the lucky ones. Frankie didn’t cry. In fact, she cried more at home prior to our admission to sleep school. But we were one of the lucky ones, & so we were thankfully spared from using any real element of controlled crying with Frankie.
In all honesty, I could have discharged on day two, … I stayed for the free food & good company in some of the Masada Mums I ended up becoming friends with.
Don’t judge me, ha!