Tired As a Mother
We’ve all heard that phrase before, and we know it to be true. We wear it like a badge of honor though, don’t we? Moms are tired for a million reasons, but I think it’s safe to say that one of the biggest culprits of “Mom Fatigue” is sleepless nights. Newborns and young toddlers are notorious for waking multiple times in the middle of the night and disrupting parents’ sleep.
I love my sleep. I have always gotten 8-9 hours per night and have even been known to enjoy a long football nap on the couch in the fall. So when I became pregnant with my son, I was terrified at what my coveted sleep habits would become.
Much to my delight, my child was also a champion sleeper. He operated exactly as the textbooks said he would. Up every few hours to eat, multiple naps throughout the day at the appropriate length, down at night for extended periods of time only waking for the expected middle of the night feedings. He was a joy!
…until he hit about 3 months old. For 6 or 7 weeks, we wrestled with him at every bedtime. The whole process was taking us over 3 hours every night: rocking him to sleep, putting him down, him waking up 40 minutes later, us bouncing him and rocking him and BEGGING him to fall asleep and just stay asleep. Then he would wake up at all hours for multiple 45-60 minute nursing sessions. I hated it, and I dreaded it all. And I felt so guilty about that.
A drowsy and desperate Google search led me to the Instagram account of Cara at Taking Cara Babies. She is a baby sleep expert who offers online baby sleep courses for newborns, 3-4 month olds, and 5-24 month olds. An ex-Labor and Delivery nurse, married to a pediatrician, she claims that her classes are designed with”the science of a nurse from the heart of a mama.” And that is exactly what they are!
We didn’t find Cara until my son was almost 5 months old, so we were interested in the last of her courses called “The ABCs of Sleep” targeted towards babies 5-24 months old. Her website explains that within 14 days, the class will help you, among other things:
- Establish 10-12 hour nights of independent crib sleep
- Teach your baby to fall asleep independently
- Address night wakings
- Wean night feedings
- Set up a healthy, flexible nap schedule
- Handle setbacks through age 2
This sounded like a dream, so I immediately purchased the course. I’ve seen other sleep experts offer services for well over $1,000, so the multiple packages that Cara offers from $179-$319 seemed like a steal!
Feeling incredibly hopeless, we purchased the top package which included 2 phone consultations with a certified sleep consultant on the TCB staff, because we knew we would be needing all the help we could get.
I would describe the basic principles of Cara’s method as a very gentle, developmentally appropriate version of the “cry it out” technique.
I know this truly pains the heart of some of you mamas to even consider, but Cara does a beautiful job of explaining the science behind crying and how it doesn’t mean that your child is necessarily scared or sorrowful–it’s just their way of communicating. This really put me at ease and gave me the confidence to give it a try.
Conquering Nighttime Sleep
The consumable content of the class consists of a little over 90 minutes of video content broken up into easy-to-watch segments and a 60 page reference e-booklet. It explains how for 14 nights you are to put your baby in the crib to fall asleep and then “pop in” to the nursery to reassure them that you are there every 10-15 minutes for as long as they are awake and fussing. You may physically touch (but not pick up) your child for comfort for the first 3 nights, but after that you may only go in to verbally reassure them. Cara explains everything so simply and reassuringly and gives you all the troubleshooting tools that you will need in those first 14 nights.
We were so defeated at this point that, we purchased the course on a Tuesday morning, watched all the videos, read the entire booklet, and were ready to put it all into practice that same night. We joke that we were so desperate that we didn’t even wait until a weekend night to start in case we things got really difficult.
So, on that first Tuesday night, we started the ABCs of Sleep. It took over 3 hours for my son to fall asleep that night. I bawled my eyes out the entire time…but he eventually did get to sleep. He woke up once in the middle of the night and it took about an hour for him to get back down. The second night took us about an hour and a half for him to fall asleep. He slept the entire night. By the third night, he was falling asleep independently in less than 30 minutes and sleeping for 12. HOURS. STRAIGHT!
I couldn’t believe how quickly this method worked for us. It was a miracle and it gave us our sanity back! It gave me back the joy of being this little boys mother!
Conquering Daytime Sleep (Naps)
Not only did this course get my son sleeping all night long at 5 months old, but the reference booklet also provides information about consolidating and dropping naps as your baby gets older. The way you manage their day around their naps changes periodically, but Cara provides an incredibly detailed and easy to follow process for managing daytime sleep.
Her method is centered on developmentally age-appropriate “awake windows” and proper nap maximum time limits. She explains how daytime sleeps effects nighttime sleep and how to make it all work harmoniously together. My son is now 2 and we have virtually sailed through every nap transition over the past 18 months. It’s been a dream come true!
My favorite feature of the ABCs of Sleep class is Cara’s deeply profound affirmation:
“Flexible routine NOT rigid schedules”
She encourages mamas to establish healthy sleep foundations that set our littles up for success, but also to enjoy life and manageably deviate from your daily routine from time to time.
This mantra has bled over into so many other facets of my parenting that has served me so well.
Taking Cara Mamas
I cannot recommend Taking Cara Babies enough! Unfortunately, we did not find this class until our son was 5 months old. But when we have another child, we will most definitely be purchasing the Newborn class and the 3-4 month e-book. This class has eliminated one of the biggest stressors for new parents, and that alone is worth its weight in gold.
However, what I love most about this program is the heart behind it. All you have to do is follow the TCB Instagram account and it will be readily apparent how much Cara truly cares about all of her clients. Her IG stories are filled with inspiration and encouragement for all mamas that is applicable to so much more than just infant sleep. Her account is beautiful, uplifting, informative, and authentic.
Thank you, Cara, for taking care of our babies, and also us along the way.