Note by Heidi: ❤️ Please welcome Celia Ponzo, who’s training with me and joining me here to help you and your babies sleep better, without tears. This is her very personal and very sweet story …
My mother always used to tell me that I was such a heavy sleeper when I was a baby, she would say that there could be drums playing by my ear and I would sleep right through.
I don’t ever remember her tired growing up as she was always full of energy. I grew up seeing motherhood as easy. She was able to manage and handle everything so well all by herself . My father at the time was travelling all over the world so not home much to raise my sister and I.
My mother asked me at the end of my pregnancy if I wanted her to come over to live with me to help with my baby in the first months. I denied without even thinking twice. I thought that I did not need any help she did it alone and I wanted to prove to myself that I can cope with the help of my husband.
She warned me that I would be tired from the birth , my friends had also told me that the beginning would be hard with a baby due to the little sleep that I would have. I was not bothered about it as I was never someone who needed much sleep .
My pregnant friends around me on the other hand were preparing themselves for the sleepless nights. They made sure to have extra naps and early nights in the last months of their pregnancy.
Oh if I could turn back the hands of time!
I would have said yes please !
I did not realise how important it was to get support to thrive in my new role as a mother…
My newborn girl was a terrible sleeper! She was up for most of the time which I knew was normal in the first few months. At 6 months she was still up every hour of the night!
I became exhausted by the lack of sleep but also tired of all the information I had regarding baby sleep. I was reading different books from renown baby sleep experts, talking to other mothers, talking to paediatricians and midwives and all the advice that came to me was the same;
I needed to let my baby cry …
… because “at the moment I was spoiling her by attending to her every need”.
I could not understand how that made sense but most importantly every time she cried I had a deep instinctive innate urge to pick her up, how was I ever going to deny this and ignore my feelings?
As the months went by, I got even more tired, my husband who was my anchor in these days was also getting very little sleep and at some point, we were no longer as vibrant and energetic as we used to be.
I told him about what people had told me about letting her cry it out and my doubts. I wanted his opinion being insecure about it myself.
I will always remember his words “What? Animals in nature don’t let their baby’s cry they always go back to them when in danger, remember how close you felt to nature when you got pregnant and gave birth, listen to what is natural to you”
His comment was the beginning of my research journey to baby sleep. I had read books and listened to advice but I had not really done my own scientific research which was my job before getting pregnant. I somehow lost for a moment the energy to dig into the research , reading a book seemed so much easier when you are tired.
I was determined to put in question all the advice I had been given about letting my daughter cry.
As I dug into the depth of scientific research studies I was so angry to have even considered letting my baby cry. The research confirmed that my instincts were correct and that attending to every need of hers I was allowing her brain to developmentally thrive.
The more I read the more energy I had to continue attending to her needs.
Suddenly at night, when she would cry rather than being tired I had bursts of energy to pick her up as I now knew and felt confident that what I was doing was for the long term good.
I realised that my exhaustion was definitely due to lack of sleep but my fatigue was due to being constantly told that I was doing was wrong, Creating a long term sleep problem with her if I did not decide to toughen up my methods.
Self doubt drains your energy levels and I can definitely confirm that.
I write this in hope by sharing my own personal story you can relate to it and have little bursts of energy through your sleepless nights to continue responding to your baby’s cry knowing that you are giving them the healthiest building blocks for their brain.
My passion regarding baby sleep has driven me to further my studies and I am currently doing my sleep consultant training with Heidi here at Baby Sleep Advice which so perfectly gives confidence to new parents.
I look forward to sharing the evidence based knowledge that is so well hidden about your baby’s sleep.
My wish is to support parents to trust their instincts and never feel concerned about picking up their baby when they cry. All of this while still taking good care of themselves as parents and find the sleep they need as well.
This resonated with me so much ❤️ Yes I was exhausted from my baby not sleeping, but the insecurity in my decisions doubled that exhaustion. Feeling like I couldn’t ever complain about being tired because it was my choice not to let her cry like everyone around me said I *should* do. I’m so glad I didn’t give in – all of my daughter’s allergies and intolerances have finally been identified and we’re now on top of them. She was crying in discomfort and pain. Letting her cry wouldn’t solve that. I’m a mother all hours of the day AND night, and my baby knows I’m always there.
Thanks Gwenllian for sharing 🙂 You had definitely the right instinct to pick her up and especially the fact that you now know she was in discomfort .
I totally hear you about not being able to complain about not sleeping, I also felt I had to stop completely complaining about me not sleeping, until I found like minded people that shared my values !
Gorgeous post Celia, thank you!! SO recognizable also the “you >have< to let your baby cry", I can't tell you how often I got that advice myself at the time. And it can be hard to trust your gut in times like that, new and exhausted: it takes a lot to withstand that external pressure. So glad you did and the way you found your answers: love it!!! 😍