It’s one thing to hear about sleep from a sleep consultant’s perspective and experience, but it’s another to hear about it firsthand from another parent who has been through the process and is willing to share about their personal journey!
I’m excited to have Molli Atallah on the blog, sharing about her experience working with me on her sweet boy’s sleep in June of last year. Molli and I have been in touch since working together and she has shared her family’s story below!
Tell us a bit about you and your family!
I was an English teacher for six years, and it was at Chantilly High School (go Chargers!) where I met my beautiful husband Brad, who is a Math teacher. We had our sweet baby Jamie at home right as the world shut down on Saint Paddy’s 2020 (March 17). We are a family who loves cuddling, getting outside, and watching the English Premier League together.
What did sleep look like before working with Lauren?
Before Lauren, we had a very loose understanding of awake windows and we dreaded bedtime EVERY. NIGHT. I had taken a popular online sleep course for newborns, and I tried to apply what I learned but it didn’t quite gel with me and it was too broad to give me peace for our unique family.
For example, in re awake windows, as soon as I saw what I perceived to be a sleepy cue, I rushed to put J down, resulting in his awake windows being anywhere from 45 min (too short for his age) to 2 hours (too long for his age), and it was all wildly inconsistent and confusing. I felt very out of control.
I did so much reading on all things sleep, and I felt overwhelmed and perplexed by not just the wealth of information available, but the contradictory nature of it.
Jamie was only 8 weeks old when we started with Lauren, but as parents out there will know, your baby really comes alive in new and exciting ways at 6 weeks, like their eyes aren’t just open but they’re actually seeing, and you can almost feel them asking you for routines and consistency.
I tried to apply the bedtime tips and routines I learned from the sleep course, and it was a nightmare. Jamie took a bedtime bottle from his dad every night, and we tried so hard to be calm after that and lay him down drowsy or mostly asleep, but he wailed.
I wanted so badly to be able to put him in the bassinet at night and eat a meal SITTING with my husband, to have even just 60 minutes to ourselves in a day before we joined Jamie to sleep and woke up with him whenever he needed us.
What made you decide to hire a sleep consultant?
Lauren and I had intersected extracurricularly during the year I attended Penn State before transferring to the University of Virginia to be closer to my family. We reconnected on Instagram after Jamie’s birth and I was so intrigued by her work.
I ended up reading through her entire blog, and it resonated with me. My mamma-gut said “This feels right.” By the time I booked my 20-minute free call with Lauren, I was 99% convinced I wanted to work with her. After talking to her, it felt more like 110%!
“Sleep consultant” feels like a luxury, but in my opinion, we should reframe where we allocate our funds and consider it more like a necessity. Put a “sleep consultant” fund on your registry.
Put one of Lauren’s gift cards on there!
One of my favorite birth and family photographers, Lisa Philips, shared a post the other day mentioning how it is an expectation to have a wedding in the tens of thousands when getting married but when starting or expanding your family, hiring people like birth doulas, sleep consultants, lactation consultants, birth photographers, postpartum supports etc. feels like the height of luxury.
In my opinion, this should be reversed. These professionals and experts in those fields can change your life as a parent. Lauren was one such life-changer (saver) for us.
What was the process like?
Something that initially struck me working with Lauren was a line in our contract that spoke to being honest and transparent and committing to the process. It set the very important tone that we were committing to putting in work with our child’s sleep that may cause temporary discomfort during times of adjustment, but that would pay intense dividends down the line.
I’ve noticed that when working with an expert, sometimes an impulse comes up to be less than transparent (think about when your doctor asks how many times you exercise in a week and you say 3 when what you mean is “sometimes 5 times, sometimes 0 times…). I’m grateful Lauren included that intention setting from the outset.
I also appreciate that she told us how long certain changes would likely need to take effect, and how long to wait before making a change to avoid making a shift due to a newborn night or an off baby day. I was militant with filling out my sleep log and giving details because honestly, it was so helpful for me to see trends all laid out.
I loved making notes about my conjecture with his sleep and seeing Lauren’s responses. It was all SO individual and personal. And just writing down notes about a tough nap or night was in itself a healthy release.
Lauren is also very caring—she rejoices with your victories and commiserates with your tough nights.
She quickly becomes a part of your family’s team, and I really felt that throughout the process.
What does your child’s sleep look like now?
Jamie is a beautiful sleeper now. At 9 months old, he’s a 7 to 7 babe who naps 3 hours a day. Stopping with Lauren at 12 weeks, I was definitely nervous moving forward, especially with shifting awake windows and dropping naps, and we elected to continue with her on an unlimited email package for a year.
This was THE BEST decision. She has been majorly helpful with transitions for Jamie, and again, just the comfort of knowing I can reach out to her if he goes through something is priceless.
Lauren let us know that although we worked with her while Jamie was a newborn, and did not technically “sleep train,” since he gained such a strong sleep foundation, it’s possible he wouldn’t undergo the dreaded 4 month regression. She was right—we didn’t. I believe the night he turned four months he woke up and fussed once unexpectedly, but he put himself back to sleep within 20 minutes.
Certainly, between then and now, we have had our fair share of off nights and naps, but we are always able to go back to our routines and structures, and I’m so grateful.
(That four month old wake-up reminds me that another great benefit of working with Lauren when Jamie was a newborn was her helping us when Jamie showed signs of readiness to drop night feedings. That’s such a scary thing for parents and very connected to their first morning nap, which I certainly didn’t know.)
Is there anything else you’d like to share?
I know when we told friends we started working with a sleep consultant at 8 weeks, some certainly thought we were a little hasty. I can assure you that we were not. We were exhausted and frustrated and ready to make changes.
Sleep is the best gift you can give your baby, yourself, and your family. It’s hard enough to be a parent, to be a baby, to be a toddler, to be a human! Being rested at least gives you a happier and healthier baseline for what any day will throw at you.
It feels so good to get your baby from a nap or a night’s sleep and see a huge smile on their groggy face.
I always feel like “I’m so glad I could give you this gift of sleep, baby.”