The story behind this picture is the reason I started Rockin’ Blinks.
This was me and my daughter 7 years ago. The picture shows a happy, loving, fit mom, and her cute chubby baby on an evening walk. Behind the lens, things were different.
This was me and my daughter 7 years ago. Julia, was 5 months old back then.
My husband took this picture around 5:30pm, during our daily walk to get Julia to nap for 30 minutes. We would then go home, give her a bath, feed her and put her to bed around 8:30pm. It was a challenging long process of feeding, bouncing, rocking, laud crying, until she would surrender and fall asleep. The usual night after that routine would develop with Julia waking with an intense crying every 40 minutes all through the night, and struggling falling back asleep. She would do this until around 5:30am, her usual wake up for the day. If I was getting a couple of hours of sleep myself, it was a success.
The picture shows a happy, loving, fit mom, and her cute chubby baby.
What you are really seeing is a mother going through an undiagnosed major postpartum anxiety, who was struggling since the early newborn days. Her baby was hardly ever napping during the day and nighttime sleep was short and fragmented. That daily walk was usually tense and full of uncertainty. It would involve a crying baby trying to fall asleep and a nervous exhausted mother who far from been fit, was more than 20 pounds skinnier as a consequence of not taking care of herself.
The pediatrician would have no advice for me. “Some babies just don’t nap”, she would say.. My OB Gyn would not pay attention to my anxiety symptoms “It’s normal to feel that way with a challenging baby”. My wonderful mother would tell me that children usually start sleeping well around 3 year of age (a very discouraging advice that gave me more anxiety back then). Some friends would tell me that I should see a homeopath to help my baby sleep. Online advice would tell me that my baby needed to be in contact with me all the time “Enjoy the sleepless nights. They grow up so fast” (but I knew that I was already doing that and it was not going well). Others would tell me to just put my baby in the crib and let her fall asleep (but I was so afraid to do this because apparently, I was damaging my baby’s emotional wellbeing and brain development by doing so). Everything sounded so confusing and impossible.
A few weeks after this picture was taken, my motherhood journey took a big turn. After desperate hours on the internet, I found a children’s sleep coach who taught me about how sleep develops during infancy, and why was my baby struggling to fall asleep and stay asleep. I also learned about RIE (Resources for Infant Educators)’s approach to raising a baby through a blog written by the parenting adviser Janet Lansbury. Every word made so much sense to me! I finally realized that it was not sustainable to continue to let my daughter fall asleep in my arms and that Julia needed a different type of support to help her at bedtime. I was ready to change her sleep habits.
I decided to try putting Julia to bed really early, to respect her natural rhythm for sleep, and to allow her to fall asleep in her crib. I learned that if my baby was not napping during the day, she was ready for bedtime much earlier than 8:30pm, and that keeping her up late at night was not going to make her sleep later in the morning.
I also learnt that getting some quality sleep back was going to help me heal. And that healing my anxiety was going to make me a better mother.
I had read so many parenting books by this point about pregnancy, attachment, feeding. But I had little idea about one of the most important things for my baby’s and my own health: SLEEP.
I was so confused by all the information I had access to that I had forgotten to give my baby the opportunity of being herself and get comfortable in her sleep.
My husband during one of our daily afternoon walks to help Julia nap. It was raining that day
After so many months in a fog, I finally became the mom that I dreamed I would be. With a well-rested baby, and reasonable, consolidated sleep for me too, the magic finally started to happen. I learned to read my daughter’s sleep signs and educate myself about her maturing sleep rhythms. I learned that good parenting advice does not involve shaming or scaring, and that basic information about sleep might not come from traditional health care providers.
It took me a long time to look at these pictures and accept my struggles as a new mom. I look at them with love now. I am actually proud of myself for overcoming that difficult period that I once thought it was going to be magical and accept that my first steps as a mom were not romantic, ideal or perfect.
I wish I knew that my experience was actually normal. That other parents go through this too. I also wish I knew that my daughter was screaming for sleep, not for nursing. That her fussiness was telling me that she was overtired, not in pain. That she needed an earlier bedtime, not us keeping her up late. And that allowing her to fall asleep in the crib did not mean that I was neglecting her.
I wish I had basic sleep information as part of my preparation before becoming a parent.
Today, the world of sleep education is growing. There are more resources for parents and more experts acknowledging the importance of healthy sleep habits. But there’s still a long way to go.
My own sleep journey was the inspiration for Rockin’Blinks. I want to help families “rethink sleep” and push back against the many myths around sleep for babies and young children. And I want to give new parents easy access to basic sleep information for newborns, toddlers, big kids and beyond. Because sleep should not be a luxury; it is a basic human need.
Rockin’Blinks is not here to tell parents what to do, but rather to let them discover what resonates for the moment they are at, during their own family’s sleep journey. We want to acknowledge that sleep struggles can happen at any stage, and that sleep can be improved at every stage. We want to remind parents that even when it feels that the world is crashing in on us, there is probably something we can do to improve our lives…or at least our sleep.
Here at Rockin’Blinks, we support good sleep as the foundation of health and a happy life. Parents don’t need to “suffer” to be good parents. Being sleep-deprived for years is not okay. Working (or parenting) full time after endless nights of broken sleep is not sustainable. Sleep deficits in early childhood is a thing in this generation, and we need to start talking about it.
Thank you for being a part of our journey and for getting started on rethinking sleep for your family.
Find Lola’s one on one Sleep Coaching Services here.
Good sleep is essential for a happy healthy childhood and life. Book a consultation with us now!