What Would You Pay for a Good Night’s Sleep?

“She’s so alert,” was the comment we heard most from friends and strangers when they met our new baby girl.  It was true – from a very young age, Viv studied everything intently with her beautiful gray-blue eyes, focused and curious.   She amazed us.

We soon learned that “alert” was code for “doesn’t sleep.”

Often, at 2am, those baby blues seemed to be saying, “Hey mom, let’s party.”  She was a cheery sort of non-sleeper.  The only things that really pissed her off were being in her crib and being alone.

When Viv was about 4 months old, I started exploring our sleep options.  Like many parents, I began by immersing myself in the sleep canon – The No Cry Sleep Solution, The Sleepeasy Solution, The Sleep Lady’s Good Night, Sleep Tight, Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Child and of course this one.

(Note to self, my first novel should include the word “sleep” in the title–guaranteed best-seller).

Amazon bill: $65

The books didn’t agree on much, but they all championed creating a consistent bed-time routine and providing a dark, soothing, womblike atmosphere for sleep.  So, I shopped.

Graco white noise machine: $40

Lavender spray and lotion: $25

Lullaby CD: $15

Custom blackout shades for weird-sized window: $440

I’d read the books.  I’d prepped the nursery.  It was time to start sleep training, but I hated the idea of my baby crying it out.  So I stalled by attending a sleep workshop: $65

The instructor laid out a perfectly reasonable plan of “controlled crying” (letting the baby fall asleep on her own, but checking in at regular intervals).   The problem was, just hearing the word “cry” made my heart race and my eyes tear.  Wussbag.  I decided that a one-size-fits-all solution couldn’t possibly be right for our one-of-a-kind babe.

Like our windows, I needed a custom fit!

I trolled the baby message boards until I found a recommendation for an online sleep consultant.  Did you know these folks existed?  They are legion. And they are pricey.  If Viv ever asks me what she should be when she grows up, I’m going to steer her towards sleep consulting.

After a 30-minute phone consultation, I was emailed a 12-page personalized sleep plan for Viv: $495

I printed it out and made Dave read it too.   The first night, I thought we followed the instructions perfectly.  Because it’s totally fine if the mom sobs hysterically while screeching, “What if we’re making a horrible mistake!” right?  I think I single-handedly turned Viv’s sleep issues into a full on syndrome.  Soon after our first failed attempt at sleep training, Viv moved into our bed.   And we got less sleep than ever.

By the time Viv was 6 months old, I still hadn’t had more than 4 hours of consecutive sleep, like, ever.  And I started to break.  A friend suggested a post-partum doula who could spell us for a night, just so we could catch up on Z’s: $300

This woman had such a gift for keeping our sleep averse baby calm, happy and quiet, we came to refer to her as “the magic doula.”

Upon waking utterly refreshed, Dave and I reflected on our first real night of sleep since the baby was born.  We felt incredible, but agreed our sleep-related spending was way out of control.  We could never again call upon the magic doula.

Never came about three weeks later: $300

Having spend two nights getting to know our little one, the magic doula broached the idea of helping us sleep train.   She would come over and coach us all the way through the first (and worst) night, leaving us with tools for completing the process, plus as much email/phone follow-up as we needed.   When Viv turned 7 months and was still only sleeping (really, cat-napping) in 45 minute intervals while affixed to my boob, I was finally ready: $550

In preparation for the big night, the magic doula suggested we enhance our symphony of white noise with an air purifier: $175

She also encouraged us to pick up Rescue Remedy drops from Whole Foods, kids and adult formulas, for those of us needing remedies and rescues: $30

And finally, with $2,500 sunk, mommy organically sedated, and some fairy dust from the magic doula, our baby slept.  And it stuck.  Now 13 months old, Viv typically sleeps 11 straight hours without a peep.   And every morning I embrace her as though she’s just won a gold medal in the Night Night Olympics.

While it’s embarrassing to have spent so much on a task that billions of parents throughout time have accomplished for free, I have no regrets.  Even though our sleep investment could have bought a week of this:

Or this:

Or even one of these:

There’s nothing better than this:

(Not our daughter.  If you think I’d risk waking her up with flash photography, you’re crazy.)

Nighty night.

PS the Rowdy Sprout Rocker Tee Giveaway is still open through March 1.  Click here for your chance to win the rock & roll baby/kids wear of your choice!  xoxoCB4M


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  1. Jordan
    Posted February 27, 2012 at 8:39 am | Permalink

    What, no mention of the sleep book I got you? I thought that was the one that worked?

    • Amy
      Posted February 27, 2012 at 8:54 am | Permalink

      How did I forget to mention Go The Fuck To Sleep? We still refer to it often. Highly recommend. And I hear Sam Jackson does an audio version that’s even better. Will add…

  2. Posted February 27, 2012 at 11:17 am | Permalink

    Oh, Amy Amy Amy…

    I guess all that matters is that she’s sleeping well now – and you are, too.

    I’m working on a sleep post for my blog. I suggest you skip it. It’s not going to make you feel any better. 😉

    • Amy
      Posted February 27, 2012 at 11:24 am | Permalink

      Jerry, isn’t that like telling our kids not to touch the hot plate? You know I’m going to read it!

  3. Jeni
    Posted January 4, 2014 at 9:05 pm | Permalink

    This is so true. We did the spark notes of the 5 S’s, purchased Angel Care monitor, bought a Miracle Blanket, and begged my mom to come hold baby from 3a-6a on nights my hubby worked his overnight shifts. At that point, paying out the nose is on everyone’s mind. Throw money at the problem to get sleep. :) Love your blog!

    • Posted January 6, 2014 at 8:09 am | Permalink

      Thanks so much! Glad you found me.

  4. Stephanie
    Posted March 6, 2016 at 10:13 pm | Permalink

    You had me at, “she’s so alert”. Our babies could form a club. :/ Did you have nap trouble too? Mine is 7 months and has suddenly upped her sleep fighting game. Can you elaborate on how you trained her and found freedom without just leaving her to scream hysterically?

    • Posted March 7, 2016 at 8:03 am | Permalink

      Stephanie, 7 months is when I sleep trained both of my babies (I have two now). There’s something about that time I guess. Full disclosure, I got help from a postpartum doula both times because I am a huge wuss and I needed a coach. That said, it went better than I’d hoped. I started out making sure baby was on a good schedule, waking and going to bed at fairly consistent times, and getting good naps. Then the night we were going to start training, I told baby I was going to help her sleep through the night, and I explained the plan. I think they understand a fair amount even before they can talk. Also during the day, I made sure to fill her up, literally and figuratively, with lots of milk/food and lots of love.

      I knew I was not the type of person who could just let a baby cry and cry and cry. So I did timed intervals, very short, like 3 minutes of crying (which feels like an eternity). Then I’d go in and keeping it all dark and quiet, no eye contact, no talking, just shushing, gentle murmuring, or even really soft singing (Twinkle Twinkle) I’d pick up my baby and hold her til she stopped crying (usually 30 seconds to a minute), then put her back in the crib. Most sleep training books do not advocate touching but I swear it works if you’re consistent and don’t give up. I needed to hold them and I think they needed it too. So this would just go on until she fell asleep and then repeat when she woke up. The important thing was never to “give in” and offer milk or take her into my bed. I had to just keep going til she fell asleep. It’s awful the first night and then gets better. A lot better. My babies never seemed upset with me the next day. And once they were sleeping through the night they seemed happier!

      Also, I was pretty anxious about making sure they weren’t hungry, so I did do a dream feed – I’d go in every night around 10pm, lift baby out of crib not waking her, and put her to my boob and let her nurse for a few minutes, then put her back. She slept through it. It just filled her tank so that if she did wake up crying an hour later, I could feel confident it wasn’t because she was starving. I did the dream feed from about 7-9 months but some people drop it sooner. GOOD LUCK.

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