I knew I needed urgent help when I got home one night at around 12:30 am and found my husband holding our baby girl on a bench below our Tel Aviv apartment, trying desperately to get her back to sleep.
I had gone out with a friend, a rare occasion, having left my then 9-month old asleep in her crib with her dad on watch. I had checked in about 2 hours prior to getting home and was assured everything was fine, and our daughter was sound asleep (and to enjoy myself). In fact, she was not asleep, and everything was not fine. She had been up for a few hours, crying off and on, with my husband trying everything to get her back to sleep, except of course breastfeeding her, which is how I rolled.
I took away two things from this night: 1. Husband is a surprisingly good fibber. 2. I needed professional help because things could not go on this way. My daughter was a good sleeper until she hit the 4-month mark. She could sleep for 6-hour stretches at night, which we were told was a very good thing and we should count our blessings. Then things deteriorated quickly. Two month-long trips to the US and a summer war later, our nights looked like this: I would breastfeed my daughter to sleep sometime between 19:00 and 20:00pm and put her in her room, she would sleep until about midnight (if I was lucky), at which point I was usually ready to go to sleep as well and we would all go to bed together where she would breastfeed into oblivion and sleep until about 6:00am.
I told myself this wasn’t so bad, at least she was sleeping, even if her patterns were patchy. But in saner moments, I knew it wasn’t fair to me, to her or to my husband that I was really the only one who could get her to sleep. Like most new moms or moms-to-be, I read some parenting books, browsed some mommy forums, and observed — half fascinated, half horrified — as many threads about sleep methods, (especially CIO) descended into veritable virtual brawls, with some going as far as accusing parents who implemented the method of child abuse. I did not feel I had the mental strength, or the heart, to do CIO, and the pick-up put-down method sounded like a sophisticated form of torture.
Enter Natalie Herman. The woman with a plan.
In just a few minutes of conversation over the phone, I instantly felt more at ease. She understood exactly what we all needed and had a very hands-on but gentle approach to essentially transforming our lives. I was initially very anxious about the process, bracing myself for the tears (mine) and the screeches (our daughter’s) and mentally trying to psyche myself up every time bedtime rolled around. But with the surprisingly quick results came the confidence that we were doing the right thing, with the right consultant.
The fact that my husband could essentially get our baby to sleep using Natalie’s methods was especially striking, and such a relief. With Natalie’s guidance, instruction and friendship, we both learned how to put our daughter to sleep, without breastfeeding, without a bottle, without holding or rocking, and most importantly for us, without crying — just plain drifting off, and sleeping (most of the time) through the night.
There were some trying moments, admittedly, a few challenges (our daughter seemed to really have penchant for the 4:00am wake-ups for a while) but nothing we couldn’t surmount with Natalie’s help. And eventually we did. Our daughter now wakes up between 5:00 and 5:30 am but that totally works for us. We have our evenings and nights back. When people inquire about how my daughter sleeps and I tell them, they always ask if she’s sleep trained. I feel that the training was mainly for us, the parents — and not the baby — in teaching us how to help our daughter sleep. We all lead better lives for it.
Natalie is a real pro. And a Godsend.
— Ricky Bee, mother of Lielle