I wish parents called me before their baby arrived to get advice on what to do when they bring their baby home. There is so much hands on help, many classes and experts available to advice you on what happens during labor and delivery and how to breastfeed. However, no-one talks about the sleep needs of the baby and how to set up a good rhythm when you bring the home baby home, so that you set them up for success from the very beginning. One of my goals when I started this business, was to make sleep education as common and available as lactation and pre-natal classes in hospitals and birthing centers.
As a sleep consultant I meet parents when they are at their lowest in terms of physical and emotional endurance. They are confused, sleep deprived, emotionally spent, anxious and sometimes depressed.
They are thrilled that they are parents and yet they are exhausted and sleep deprived because their little ones are not sleeping for more than 45 mins stretches. They have read all the books on caring for a baby, they have decorated the nursery oh-so-perfectly, organized all the clothes in the closet and have mentally prepared themselves for the sleepless nights that they have heard so much about. But nothing prepares you for baby, until baby comes home.
So is being a sleep consultant the greatest job in the world? I absolutely think so.
I used to be in the corporate world not so long ago where I looked after Fortune 500 clients’ advertising campaigns online, as an account manager. So I used to be attached to my phone checking my emails every 30 secs. There was a 6 month period when I first started my job (I think they were testing me to see what kind of stuff I was made of), where I would have to be available every Fri night until midnight to make sure that campaigns went live. The client never sent their ads on time and when they did send them, they wouldn’t meet compliance standards. So I was the messenger who told the client that they had to re-work their ads and I was also the gal who worked with internal compliance teams to get these non-approvable ads; approved. Talk about being stuck between a rock and a hard place. It was probably one of the most stressful periods in my life.
Compared to that old life, I will take dealing with my sleep deprived parents any day! They are emotional and delicate, but they are looking for someone to gently and compassionately guide them through one of their happiest and toughest periods of their life. My job involves a lot of counselling, re-evaluating priorities and sometimes re-shifting focus on what’s important. The families that approach me for help give me the privilege of letting me into their private lives to help them with something that is oh-so precious to them. Who wouldn’t call that the best job in the world? What’s even more amazing, are the rewards that you get! A short note from a well-rested mother after her first night’s sleep in months or hearing the change in a mother’s voice during an update call is the biggest job satisfaction for me. There is nothing quite like the rush of hearing a parent say – “She slept through the night! I can’t believe she did that. I didn’t think she had it in her and I was convinced that she would be the one who wouldn’t do it”.
I love my job so much that I took a call yesterday night at 10 pm and spoke to a mother of a 14 week old. She apologized for calling so late and was expecting to leave a voicemail – but I guess old habits die hard! I am still attached to my phone.