I always thought I’d be a chill mom. I didn’t really know what my parenting style would be, but I assumed I’d play it by ear and see how it went. I knew I’d likely put my baby on a schedule at some point. I’d done my research and it seemed that babies that were on a some sort of schedule slept better, and lord knows I love/need my sleep. So, I figured once we were ready and baby was here, we’d eventually work our way into some kind of schedule but probably just see how it went.
Life with a newborn is straight chaos. The sleepless nights, the feeding issues, the sink that is constantly full of bottles and pump parts, the “does this look normals”… Especially if it’s your first baby, it may seem like everything is out of your control. Then add in severe reflux, one infant surgery and several months extreme sleep deprivation, and that chill I thought I’d have was long gone. I felt like my whole life was spiraling out of control. I was desperate to get some significant sleep and regain some control of the every day. “Some” being a key word here. That’s when the book Moms on Call SAVED MY SANITY.
Let me preface this by saying this worked for our family, but I am no means telling you what to do. You do you girlfriend.
Moms on Call is a series of books written by two pediatric nurses who had 8 children between them. It does not sugar coat a thing (FINALLY!) and straight up tells you if you follow the schedule provided in the book, your baby will sleep. I needed this kind of short and sweet direction. There are a lot of books that preach a similar method, but I found this one to be easy to read, and straight up said “do this”— which was exactly what I needed at that stage of motherhood.
When Emmett was about 2 weeks old, I started to implement the schedule. The “schedule” is basically a routine of eat/play/sleep times that fall on the same time each day. I guess it is considered “sleep training” but I don’t like that term. Getting a newborn on a schedule is nearly impossible. However, I did my best to nail down the feeding times and implement the practices they preach in the book. The book has a section titled “typical days” that gives you an hour-by-hour schedule of feeding, sleep and wake/play times. It changes as they get older, and for the most part, I followed it RELIGOUSLY. Like, to the freakin’ minute. Every night, there was a bath, bottle and “quiet time” routine. There was loud white noise and very dark rooms. Night after night, day after day, I followed this routine. Ask anyone that came near us in those early weeks. The schedule was taped on the fridge and NOTHING was important enough for me to mess with it.
I WOULD GET MY CHILD TO SLEEP THROUGH THE NIGHT. I HAD TO IF I WANTED TO SURVIVE THIS.
For weeks I didn’t think it was ever going to work. I was doing everything the book told me to do, but he was still waking every 2-3 hours and I was a zombie. But I kept trying. I followed the tips and pointers for nighttime wakings. I stuck to the daytime schedule. Something had to give. I had to get some sleep at some point. And sure enough, at around week 11, we started to get somewhere. I put him down at the scheduled time, and he began getting 6 hours of consecutive sleep. Then 7, then 8! The first few nights of him sleeping longer than 3 hours, I woke up in a complete panic thinking something was wrong. How had I slept until 4am? This hadn’t happened in months! By the time Emmett was 14 weeks old, he started sleeping 12 hours a night—7:30- 7— independently in his crib.
When he started sleeping through the night, his daytime naps also improved. Suddenly it all clicked, and my chronically fussy baby barely ever cried. I’d get him out of his crib around 7am every morning, and he’d just be in there smiling and happy, waiting for mama. A complete 180 of the baby I was waking up with a few weeks prior. I started to gain some control of the day-to-day because I knew what to expect. If it was approaching his scheduled nap, and he was fussing, there was no more guessing what was bothering him. He was tired. I now knew when it was a safe time to schedule an outing with a happy/content baby instead of an overtired cranky one. We also had a better handle on his reflux, milk allergy and he had healed from his Pyloric Stenosis surgery, so there was a combo of things finally working in our favor. Sure, we have dinner at 5pm now, but we had consistent nighttime sleep and after not having it for months, nothing else mattered.
To this day, I have been afraid to share this, because I don’t want to jinx it. ($10 he’s up every 2 hours tonight!) When people ask me if he’s sleeping through the night, I always knock on wood before hesitantly answering “yes.” We still have our off days and nights and I know teething is coming and that’s going to throw a wrench in things. I know sleep regressions and sick babies are real and I know we’re not immune. But I wanted to share my experience with Moms on Call in the event someone else is desperate for some guidance.
Having our baby, and therefore our family, on a schedule has been an adjustment, but it’s working for us. If we go out to dinner, you can find us at the early bird seating. If we have dinner at home, its usually not until after 8pm once the baby is in bed. The days of spontaneity are behind us, at least for now. This is our new normal. But the cheeks on that baby of ours, well, I’ll do whatever it takes to to keep them smiling.