SURVIVOR STORIES: HOW TO TAKE DOWN A SLEEP THIEF AND SURVIVE

The first in a series of stories called Sleep Thief Survivors by parents who have achieved success against the odds. Having children inspired and motivated them to accomplish great things! 

DSC_2669 copyIt was not so long ago that sleep thief survivor Lucy Jones was down, desperate and so exhausted she was hallucinating. However, after finally finding the help she needed to get her daughter to sleep, she decided to quit her career in customer service management and retrain as a sleep coach. The 34-year-old from Lincolnshire went on to set up successful business Love Mornings through which she has assisted many sleep-deprived families across the UK.

Lucy’s story…

“My daughter was a world class, platinum medal-winning non-sleeper.

She made her position on sleep clear right off the line. You know how all babies sleep their first night in the outside world? Not this one. After a 23-hour labour, she arrived just before midnight and then stayed awake ALL night. This was a sign of things to come.

As the weeks went by, my daughter’s sleep went from vaguely sketchy to pretty erratic to virtually non-existent, and all of this was happening during a time when my husband was working away for weeks at a time.

I thought I was prepared for motherhood. I really did. Then along came baby, and I was completely blindsided. I can very distinctly recall realising that, for the first time in my life, there was no Plan B. No option to delegate, no opting out, no statutory holiday, no taking a break, no time off for sickness. That was a tough day!

I was also bewildered by the love. Even in my most wrung out and desperate moments, my baby would blink and that tiny, bird-like flick of her eyelashes would take my breath away. Then again, I’m convinced that babies are impossibly cute as a defence mechanism, which aims to prevent you from selling them to a passing circus at 2am.

Desperate for help…

When my daughter was nine-months-old I staggered into the GP’s surgery, completely desperate for help, and was duly delivered what I now know to be some absolutely terrible advice. Two months later, I was down to two hours sleep a night, hallucinating, physically shattered. I found myself suddenly feeling immensely lonely. Nobody, it seemed, could help, and obviously this was because everyone else had kids who slept!

Eventually I happened upon American social worker turned global sleep expert Kim West, aka The Sleep Lady, and as I read her words things started to click into place. We committed to using her techniques and within a few weeks we had a baby who slept and a household saved from disaster because of it!

I can’t begin to tell you how incredible it was to get some good quality sleep.

By this point I was so sleep-deprived and depleted that I felt as though I was constantly under water – everything seemed a bit distant, and somehow dulled. Once things started to slide into place on the sleep front, it was as though I was coming back to the surface. I recall colours, sounds, flavours – everything becoming more vivid to me. I’ll never forget the feeling, and it’s something that still motivates me daily.

Loneliness…

Looking back, although I felt physically awful for months on end it wasn’t this that I found to be the worst aspect of exhaustion. The most difficult things were the sense of loneliness, and the knowledge that I wasn’t being the best mum I could be. I reached a stage in exhaustion where everything felt like a slog, and I was using all of my resources just to achieve the basics.

My daughter was well fed, healthy and as happy as she could be in her sleep-deprived state, but I knew that we weren’t enjoying this time or each other as well as we could. This only contributed to the feeling of loneliness, which in itself was pretty unexpected.

When began to sleep, it felt like nothing short of a miracle, and I immediately wanted to try to prevent other families from reaching the stage of loneliness and desperation that I had. I contacted Kim and asked her to train me, and as soon as I qualified I launched Love Mornings.

“Mums are performing miracles every day…”

For me, sleep coaching is absolutely the best job in the world. It is so enormously rewarding. When families approach me, they’re generally a few steps beyond breaking point and there are a lot of emotions in the mix. Mums often tell me that they feel like failures, and this always moves me as I know that they’re performing miracles every day just by continuing on when they’re so impossibly exhausted.

I’m hopeful that over time the level of support for UK families going through sleep challenges will improve, and along the way I’m going to keep doing my little bit to help. In the longer term, I plan to start doing bigger talks and workshops, as this is the best way for me to help larger numbers of people, as well as families who aren’t in a position to look at one-to-one coaching.”

Are you a parent thinking of setting up your own business?

LUCY’S TOP TIPS

  1. I think it’s all about balance (although I’m still learning that particular trick). I have learned that you must be realistic (to the point of pessimistic) about time, and set working hours in your mind.
  1. I think it’s wise to have concrete priorities and boundaries – it’s very easy to get so caught up in running your business that it starts to impact negatively on your family.
  1. Accept that if your little one has chicken pox then your business will probably take a little hit, and that’s not the end of the world. So what if you lose an order whilst you’re snuggled up under a blanket on the sofa with your youngest? These days will be gone soon enough, and you can make up the difference once they’re back on their feet.

For more information visit www.lovemornings.com or join Lucy on Facebook.

Has parenthood inspired you to achieve something great?  Overcome an illness, set up a business, fulfil personal or career ambitions? If so, I would love to hear from you.  Please get in touch on  emilyjaneclark@hotmail.com or contact me on Facebook or leave a comment below.

6 thoughts on “SURVIVOR STORIES: HOW TO TAKE DOWN A SLEEP THIEF AND SURVIVE

  1. You’ve gotta love that “absolutely terrible advice”. It was partly because of this (and partly because one of the few things that would make P sleep was grunge music played loudly – hint! not a trick you can use at 2am!) that I sung Nirvana’s Heart Shaped Box while trying to soothe the crying baby so many times.

    I am still semi-serious about hunting some of those people down.

    • I got tons of it! I have a hit list of smug unhelpful advice givers i want to take out! I think the minute I stopped listening and doing whatever weird and wonderful things worked for me (haven’t tried Nirvana, maybe I am missing a trick) was the point at which things got a little less stressful!

  2. Amazing idea for a series! So inspiring! We know first hand what severe sleep deprivation can do to your body and spirit. I was a zombie for years, walking, going with the flow, and crying almost everyday. Those were really tough time and I am so grateful they’re over. It’s good to know there are people who can help families establish healthy sleeping habits… I wish we had this back then when NOTHING helped and I thought I might actually die from exhaustion.

    • Thanks Leila! I have had many of those dark days! Like you are just existing rather than living. It is not as bad with my second sleep thief as I know there is light at the end of the tunnel (here’s hoping) but there are still nights I desperately search the Internet at 4am in search of a little Hope!!!

      • I know what you mean. Our #2 was sleeping like a newborn, waking up every three hours for milk, until he was 15 months old! So basically is he just started sleeping a month ago. So yeah, it took a while, but it’s finally happened!

        • Ha mine too! She is 18 months only just off the night feeds….still bloody wakes up all night though. Her sister started sleeping at 2 years so I am living in hope she will follow in her foot steps. I imagine she will want to throw that back in my face though !!!

Feel free to leave a reply..misery loves company.