Moms definitely feel the brunt of post-partum sleep deprivation – those newborn months are a blissful slog. But (thankfully) modern dads are often very involved in soothing their restless little ones, especially as they get a little older, and they too pay the price of sleepless nights. Here are a few of their stories about getting to the other side of sleeplessness:
Some parents have good sleepers. You ask them how they do it and they tell you that they just put their kid to bed and they sleep. They look at you like it's a silly question.
It was honestly pretty hard not to resent parents like that because we didn't have one of those kids.
By the time our daughter was two, Melanie and I had developed a lengthy, complicated and totally useless bedtime routine. It was a combination of nursing, dancing, singing, voodoo, stories, more dancing, patting, loveys, no not those loveys, new ones, not those ones, the other one ("it's in the car. It's in the car!"), bouncing in fifteen different ways, bouncing while patting and dancing and singing, high humming, low humming, and finally like another hour of nursing. Every night our ritual seemed to get longer. Wake ups were still happening two to five times a night, quenched only by more nursing and the kind of bed sharing that wasn't good for any of us. We were exhausted, barely coping, and very deeply unhappy. The idea of sleeping through the night seemed impossible - hearing about it felt like a cruel joke being played on us.
Hiring a sleep coach turned this around for us. She simply taught us how to teach our daughter to sleep. We may never have done it without her. Things changed very quickly for the better. I think it honestly took about a week or two and our toddler was sleeping through the night.
What can I really say about having sleep come back to you and your partner's life, to your kid's life? It's incredible. All of us were (and are) happier. Our daughter stopped acting up. She was well rested for literally the first time in nearly two years and so were we. I started being able to hold adult conversations again without forgetting words like "car" and "house". I'm not even sure I knew what a wreck I was until things started improving.
A year and a half later things are still good with us. The skills we all learned have not gone away. We are still happily sleeping through the night. We seriously got our lives back.
Sleep training has been amazing for us! Before we started, we were co-sleeping with Gus, and we were both turning into zombies; Gus was waking up almost every hour and Justina would nurse him back to sleep. None of us was getting enough sleep; I even noticed that Gus was starting to get grumpy during the day which was unusual because he is a pretty smiley guy.
I had been holding out on hiring a sleep trainer, but co-sleeping just wasn't working. Then we saw that Hilary was holding a public seminar. We had other plans that weekend, but we changed them and went. I couldn’t believe it when she said most babies on her plan learn to sleep through the night within a week, two at most.
We signed up that day.
It took two nights of sleep training and Gus was sleeping through the night! It was unbelievable. It changed our lives.
We like to camp, which has still been a bit of a struggle for Gus as he often wakes up during the night while we're camping. We worry that we'll ruin everything he’s learned, but Gus picks it back up again as soon as we’re home and back to the routine.
It's been great, and I think our little boy is happier now that he is sleeping through the night.
Before our twin girls arrived, I was an active, energetic, guy who thought that he could handle any challenge these two little ladies might throw my way. Well within a week of their arrival I had to concede that I was wrong – the feedings and diaper changes felt like a constant tick-tock of the clock: tick – get the formula heated, tock – help my wife double breastfeed the girls, tick – get the formula heated, tock – change those diapers.
Please sleep now… please…
Fast-forward eight months to when we met Hilary, a sleep coach, and her family in the park. Our girls were still feeding at least once during the night. We were tired. Very tired. We hadn’t had a full night’s sleep since the girls arrived.
We had an initial consult and signed up for a full sleep-training plan. Four or five nights later, they were sleeping through the night. We couldn’t believe it. Seriously, it happened that quickly. Pretty soon, all was ironed out like a smooth, starched shirt: their 5 a.m. waking turned into 6, then 7, and now, almost two years later, they sleep until 7:30 or 8 every morning. Double WOW (one for each of them!).
Our lives are still very full with our lovely girls, but we are all happier, healthier and more energetic with a good night’s sleep every night. Hilary’s thoughtful and thorough approach, which was tailored to fit our girls’ sleep history and patterns, made all the difference for myself and my family.