Greatest job in the world?

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.


Raising a Texan

I have been living in the state of Texas for 10 years almost (give or take) and I consider myself an immigrant to this country.  No matter how many years I live here, England will always be my home as that’s where I grew up and made long lasting friendships, went to school, and all my childhood memories were made there.

My son on the other hand was born in the good old US of A.  Not just anywhere in the USA, but Texas.  If you have ever met a true Texan, you will know that they are extremely proud of where they are from and boast about it.  It’s true that everything is bigger in Texas.  It’s the only state in the country, where the state flag flies at the same height as the American flag.  There are bumper stickers that say “I am not from Texas but I got here as fast as I could”.  Don’t get me wrong, I love this state and all the great benefits that we get here.  Real estate is probably the most affordable that could be, there is a drive through for everything – I am not kidding – EVERYTHING – dry cleaner, post office, pharmacy, liquor store (yup) to name a few. Before my son was born I always thought this convenience was for the extremely lazy.  But I eat my words now after having a child – drive throughs are the best inventions ever, when you have a toddler in the car who you don’t have to buckle and unbuckle a 1000 times a day when running errands.  But I digress, from my point.

Before I moved to Texas, I wasn’t a big fan of Mexican food, but time has worn away at me and I now enjoy Mexican food.  It’s hard not to when there is one on every corner and you are faced with it everyday for 10 years. You ask any Texan what their favorite type of food is and they will say it’s Mexican.

Today, we were out playing and I asked my son whether he wanted to eat out. His answer was “yes – I want Mexican food”.  I was stunned.  My husband and I have never mentioned Mexican cuisine to him whenever we have eaten at these restaurants. He just knows them as restaurants!  For that matter, he doesn’t know Chinese from Thai or Indian from British food. How did he go from identifying food that he likes to telling me the cuisine he wants to eat?!

He can also point out a Texas flag and an American flag, but no other flag (he is not yet 3).

One of his favorite songs to sing is “Deep in the heart of Texas” which was a song that they taught him in pre-school. If you are interested here is the intro to the song:

The stars at night – are big and bright
Deep in the heart of Texas.
The prairie sky – is wide and high
Deep in the heart of Texas.
The sage in bloom – is like perfume
Deep in the heart of Texas.

He is going to be so different from my husband and I in terms of his upbringing and culture.  Am I going to be able to relate to any of it – prom (I never went to one in England), football (I never understood it and I never will),  high school sports (England schools didn’t have students to worship who were football or basketball heroes).

I guess what I am trying to say through all this rambling is that,  I have come to accept the fact that I am raising an American Texan; not an English/Indian child who is growing up in America.  When he loses his baby accent, he is going to sound like a Texan with a twang.  I am bracing myself for the day that happens.