CASE STUDY | TWO DIFFERENT GIRLS. TWO DIFFERENT JOURNEY'S

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Phaedra (@phaedy_c) and Dave are the proud parents of two beautiful little girls, Marley and Indi. Phaedra always knew she wanted to be a mother and quickly feel pregnant with her two little ones, close together. Just like her pregnancies, her experience with sleep has been so different with each of her girls, so we sat down with this amazing mama to talk all things sleep and how she felt implementing the Sleep Mama program on two very different little girls.

Q| Can you tell us a bit about yourself and your journey to becoming a mama to these two beautiful little girls?

My whole life I have looked forward to the day I could say I was a mother. I knew from a very young age that I wanted kids. My fiancé Dave and I had been together for just on 2 years, we had just moved in together and a little less than 6 months later I fell pregnant. I must have been about 3 weeks along when I got a blood test and was told I wasn't pregnant which the doctor then followed up with "Thank god" and handed me a script for the pill. It was embarrassing and confusing, I was sitting there feeling disappointed but being told I should be happy and thankful.  About 5 weeks later, still no cycle, I went to a new GP, one quick urine test and bam there it was, we were 8 weeks along already.

I always told myself I wouldn't read any parenting books, I just wanted to go with my instincts from the beginning, I was nervous not to replicate the parenting I had growing up with. I travelled interstate regularly for work up until a few days before we had our eldest, Marley.

She was born at 29.5 weeks due to me developing severe preeclampsia very quickly. It started with a little swelling in my face then some stomach pains then about 4 days later I woke up with a pounding headache, we went into the hospital for a quick check up (which I wasn't even convinced was necessary, but I knew nothing about preeclampsia) and after about 4 hours of tests I was put into an ambulance with no idea what was happening. I was told we would remain in hospital until the baby was born, assuming 8-10 weeks. When we arrived at the next hospital they told me they would be delivering the baby in the next 24-48 hours. I was 26 years old, my blood pressure was high and the drugs weren't working. At one point, I was on the borderline of having a stroke, within 24 hours from arriving at the hospital they delivered Marley our darling girl through emergency C-sect. I saw her only for a few seconds before they raced her to the NICU with Dave. It was 3 days before I got to see her again and enjoy my first hold. 7 days later I was discharged and 7 1/2 weeks later we took her home. I still can’t explain all those feeling of the first 2 months, it was and still is a total blur.

Only 6 months later we fell pregnant again, not a total surprise, however a lot faster than we thought it would happen. At 39 weeks via another caesarean we had another baby girl, Indi.

The difference of the experiences was from one extreme to the other. We arrived at the hospital at 6am, by 10am we were back in the room with our baby. A blissful few days and we were home with them both.  Since having Indi, I feel like I have relaxed a lot as a mother, I was always so worried about Marley, I sat with her from day 3, every single day for 8-10 hours, holding her for as long as I could each day, I developed Mastitis during her hospital stay because I would hold her for hours on end, refusing to express milk or go to the bathroom. With Indi it was so different, there was nothing to be afraid of, she was the right size and she did all the right things.

I love being a mother, I hold on tight to the good moments and I’m learning every day about managing those tough ones, nothing has challenged me more that this and I don’t think anything ever will. I’m passionate about raising my girls in a nurturing and loving home. We are constantly looking for ways to ensure we are raising them to be confident and full of self-love. Raising girls is a scary thing.

Q| What were your little one’s sleep habits like in the beginning?

When Marley was in NICU, we went to visit her and to our surprise she had a dummy, from that day forward she was attached. When she came home from hospital, she was on EBM every 4 hours and was in quite a solid routine from the hospital, we thought we had struck gold, she slept, she ate, and she slept. It wasn’t until the 4 month regression hit and I suddenly thought… What is happening?! I knew nothing about the regression, she still used a dummy and now it was starting to fall out and we were up every 30 minutes to an hour most nights, she then went straight into serious separation anxiety and we all suffered for a good 3 months.

Indi on the other hand started out reasonably tough, from about 4 weeks she was very unsettled, this was the first baby I had actually breastfed so that was a whole new experience and a tough one at that! She started to do longer stretches overnight but she catnapped throughout the day. I struggled to get her into her bassinet during the days, so most of the time I wore her in the carrier and walked so she slept. I was determined not to rely on a dummy with her but it eventually made its way back into her mouth most nights. To be honest, if she was my only child I don’t think I would have minded holding her for every nap in the early weeks but I needed to be able to look after Marley who had just started walking. Lucky me!

 Q| How did these sleep habits make you feel?

With Marley, I felt so lucky that for the first 8 weeks of her life we were reasonably well rested, I was expressing of course, but Dave was getting a full night’s sleep until we brought her home. We tried to alternate the bottle feeds, but I had to get up to express anyway so after about a week we swapped to me doing the post-midnight feeds and Dave doing the last feed of the days.

It was exhausting, during the 3 months of sleep regression and separation anxiety we were quite honestly zombies. Our relationship was strained. Dave was working full time, the broken sleep was really affecting us both and we bickered a lot. We argued about the best solution, to cry it out or not to cry it out. We felt helpless and I felt embarrassed that I didn’t have the answers, that my instincts weren’t enough.

Indi was a different kettle of fish, because I was breast feeding, so I really felt the full brunt of the newborn stage. It was more valuable to me to have Dave well rested so he could help with Marley during the days. I think any time you are sleep deprived; you lose balance in your life. I think if there are 4 words that sum up how you feel during those first let’s say 4-6 months it’s…. “You don’t get it”. You just feel like no one understands and no one will ever understand unless they are in your shoes and that’s a really hard feeling to shake.

 Q| What made you reach out for support and guidance in improving your girl’s sleep? Did you have any hesitations in reaching out?

I just got to a point where I felt I didn’t have the skills necessary to support my daughters sleeping habits.  Dave was definitely supportive of me making this decision but I don’t know if he was at the point of feeling the definite need for help. I was hesitant and I liked the idea of being able to get a program I could implement at home, behind closed doors in a way. I needed a program that was going to give me direct support at the same time though, if I had questions I wasn’t game enough to post them on any of the ‘Mum threads’ for fear of being torn a new one.

 Q| What drew you to The Sleep Mama’s programs?

I followed a few people on social media that had spoken highly of The Sleep Mama program and it wasn’t until I followed snapchat and listened to the way that Kylie spoke about parenting more so than sleep, that really stuck with me. She said everything I wanted to do and feel when it came to raising our kids. The ‘kind’ parenting movement was definitely something I wanted to be a part of.

I liked that there were no strict black or white lines with the program, you can kind of adjust things or pick and choose the tools you need or want. But at the same time you are provided with all the tools just in case.

 Q| How have you found using the program, especially on two little ones?

To begin with it was really tough, for both Dave and I. It’s so easy to fall back into bad habits and just provide them with lots of intensive comfort when they protest. It’s really hard to sit on the floor of the room at 3am patting your baby and shushing them for 5 minutes nonstop sometimes 10, sometimes 15. But it was worth it. We persisted and within a few weeks we really saw results.

We implemented the program. The need for resettling became less and less and all of a sudden we had a little girl who was sleeping from 7-7 and napping 3 times a day. Of course we all have those nights, where they are sick or teething or have a nightmare when they wake, but all it takes now is a cuddle and back to bed.

I felt really confident when it came to implementing the sleep program with Indi. We started using all the settling techniques from the get go, and once she sorted out her day naps and got her into the bassinet, which was around 8 weeks, we have been able to really follow the program.

I honestly think this sleep program is the sole reason we were able to achieve her sleeping habits from such an early age. We really stuck with the same process everyday. We introduced our little bedtime rituals, bath, bottle, bed and the use of white noise every night, we swaddled her and always resettled in the same way. We cruised through the 4 month regression without even realising it!

She is now 7 months old and still sleeps so well overnight, very rarely do we need to get up during the night for her. This program has made us more relaxed as parents because we aren’t running on empty. We really notice the difference in our moods now if we do have the odd rough night. Something I just couldn’t imagine dealing with on a daily basis.

 Q| Would you recommend the program to family and friends?

I would 100% recommend the program! It’s the first thing I suggest to people when they express the need for support in that area. I think as a new mum you don’t know much about sleep and routines and when people are suggesting you get a consultant or a program, we immediately think it’s a cry it out method.

I feel it’s important to share that there are other ways to encourage sleep and they don’t have to be a harsh routine that doesn’t actually work for you or your baby. My experience has been amazing, the support from the team is great, I had a few nights of hell early on with Marley and I would send emails for any extra tips. Georgia was so helpful and supportive, which to be honest was probably more beneficial than the advice at times. Just to have someone listen and understand is so important during those tough times.

I am so thankful I found the sleep mama program, it has given me so much beyond the world of sleep. I am constantly learning through snapchats from Kylie and through content like the toddler life program. It really has given me the confidence to be the mother I want to be and to take a stand for the emotional wellness of my children.