Ok, so I realize this subject line is a bit dramatic – possibly even clickbait – but it’s actually true. I wanted to take some time to write about our experience with WeeSleep. Not because I was compensated or even asked to do so (I wasn’t), but because I believe that when you have an AMAZING experience, you need to share.
When you last heard from me on the blog, we thought Asher was through the worst of his colic and everything was rainbows and unicorns again. We were wrong. At about 3.5 months, things took a sharp turn for the worst and not only did the daytime screaming escalate, but the nights started to quickly unravel as well. I was barely keeping it together and my husband, who had always been able to stay positive, had started to lose hope. On top of this, we were also supposed to be driving to Boston for him to run the marathon in a couple weeks (that’s a 12 hour drive, folks) and all of the recent car trips with our little guy had involved NON-STOP SCREAMING!
Then, just as I was on the verge of a mental breakdown and we were about to cancel our trip, I logged in to my Instagram (my own personal instagram I check maybe once every couple of weeks) and I had been followed by @weesleep_winnipeg. Normally I would have just written it off as a random follower but I recognized WeSleep from watching Jillian Harris’s Instagram Stories and I knew she had a great experience with them. In a state of full desperation and with the attitude of ‘what do I have to lose?’, I sent a DM asking for a complimentary consult. Karina quickly replied, asked me a few important questions to get started, and then I think we had our first chat the next day.
Our consult was fantastic and Karina seemed really confident the root cause of Asher’s screaming was sleep deprivation and even made a bold claim ‘I’ve worked with many colicky babies and by the time we were done, they weren’t colicky’. I remember half rolling my eyes (sorry, Karina) because as AMAZING as it sounded to me, nothing had worked for us. I was convinced we would be the ones to break her impeccable track record.
We decided to get started right away and, after tracking Asher’s sleep/activity for 48 hours, we had our 90 minute FaceTime session with Karina. She had created a customized sleep plan for Asher and walked us through every aspect of it and answered any questions we had. Even though we had only just met days earlier, I felt like she was invested in our family and truly cared about ensuring we were successful. I knew that no matter what was about to happen, we were being supported which we definitely needed in our fragile mental states.
The plan was 10 days. We were scheduled to leave for Boston on day 11. We knew it was rolling the dice but we also knew we weren’t ready to give up on our trip. This race was so special to us because the year prior we had just learned we had conceived Asher days before we left for Boston and we really wanted to bring him back to the race one year later and have him see his dad on the course.
And so it began. Night one was rough. We were going from basically bouncing this kid to sleep and then co-sleeping with him and jumping ever time he woke to putting him down in his bassinet that had been collecting dust for months (don’t worry, we washed it) at 6:00 p.m. while he was wide awake. The first night I sat next to him in the dark and listened to him cry (while my husband frantically texted me and fought tears). Asher’s crying had been a trigger for me up until this point but this crying was different – this crying had a purpose and somehow that made me feel calm throughout the process (does that make me a bad mom, or even a psychopath??). After over an hour of crying, he fell asleep.
Now, some of you might be thinking letting him cry that long was cruel but let me remind you it was not uncommon for this baby to scream for 8+ hours in a day, sometimes for several hours straight. There were nights where he’d cry for an hour before falling asleep WHILE we were holding and bouncing him. So yes, it was really hard to hear, but in the grand scheme of our experience with colic it was nothing and he had done something he had NEVER done before – fallen asleep on his own.
The next day, I was going to be tackling naps alone. I was terrified and my husband felt awful as he left for work. Naps were much worse than night sleep for us and I figured my day was going to involve non-stop crying.
I put Asher down for his first nap of the day in his bassinet. No bouncing, no microwave fan, no shushing, no screaming baby clawing at my face. After 5 mins he fell asleep.
ARE YOU KIDDING ME?
I made myself a cup of coffee and drank it while it was hot IN TOTAL SILENCE. I can't remember the last time I felt this giddy. It felt surreal.
This repeated itself for the other naps that day and I spent most of my day glued to the video monitor, sure this was all a dream.
Night two approached and I told my husband he could do the night shift since I did the night before (and I figured it would be another screamfest). We went through the bedtime routine and he took his spot on the chair beside Asher’s bassinet while I watched anxiously from the monitor. 5 mins of mild whining and the kid was out. WHAT?
Now, I’d be lying if I said the whole 10 days was a breeze like that. Some naps were a nightmare (usually when we waited too long to put him down) and some nights were harder than others but what was super evident to us was that Asher was learning SO quickly and by day two he was a completely different baby and our entire family began to thrive again.
OUR CHILD WAS NO LONGER COLICKY. YOU WIN, KARINA. YOU WIN.
On day 11, we packed all our crap into the car and we embarked on our trip. I was having anxiety about what would happen and was convinced all our hard work was about to go down the toilet. Karina prepped us well and gave us tonnes of tips and off we went.
For naptime in the car, we tried to keep the routine as close to normal as possible. I put up a portable black-out blind, I gave him his sleepsack to hold (he likes to suck on it for comfort), read a story, sang a song and then let him do his thing. For the most part, he was able to fall asleep really well and during the first day, which involved nine hours of driving, he cried for a total of one hour (which I’d say is a huge success). The rest of the trip went about as well as it could have. We stayed in 2 hotels and my cousin’s house and even though we kept switching things up on him, our solid routine and Asher’s ability to soothe himself to sleep meant he was able to catch his Zzzzz’s no matter where we were. He even timed it perfectly to be awake just in time to see dad run by and grab a picture with him (something we will cherish forever).
So to summarize my very long and likely overly emotional post, the 10 days we spent working with Karina literally saved our family. They also helped us learn how to help Asher be the happiest little baby he can be. If you had told me a month prior that in just a couple of weeks, I’d be able to place him down in his bassinet wide awake and he’d coo himself to sleep while I sewed in the basement I would have said you were bat sh*t crazy. But fast-forward to right now, and I’m typing this blog while he sleeps peacefully.
I know there are a lot of mixed feelings about sleep training. Some people think it’s cruel and unnecessary and possibly even selfish for the parents and everyone is entitled to their feelings on the topic. All I can do is speak to our experience, which was not about my husband and I getting more sleep (that was just icing on the cake) but 100% about helping Asher get the rest he needs and be the happy baby he is today. He’s sleeping more, he’s eating more and he’s actually able to better communicate his needs because everything isn’t clouded by his overall overtiredness.
For the first time since Asher was born, we don’t just feel like we are trying to survive each day. I have been able to focus on growing Wooly Doodle (which makes me feel SO engaged), my husband has been able to get back to his training which is his passion and we no longer just pass each other like two tired and stressed out ships in the night. And by far the best part of all of this is just how happy Asher is.
I don’t even want to think about what things would be like if Karina hadn’t clicked ‘follow’ on my profile because one click literally gave us something I am so grateful for.
After teasing you all on Instagram Stories, it’s time to let the cat out of the bag. As of August 31, I’ll be taking a leave of absence from my 15 years career at a company that I love to focus on Wooly Doodle full time.
One of the biggest things I’ve learned is the handmade world is kind of like the Wild West. It’s based largely on trust between buyer and seller and feels completely unregulated most of the time. Unfortunately, there are a lot of businesses taking advantage of this to make a quick profit. Their actions are not only deceiving customer, but are also devaluing the hard work done by actual makers.
There are those businesses that start off with a super strong plan and branding that’s been locked in from day one. Then there’s Wooly Doodle. One of the things that keeps me up at night is the fact we’ve been suffering from a bit of a brand identity crisis pretty much since day one.