Thursday, March 18, 2010

Sister Lilian on sleep

So I went to a Living and Loving (South African parenting magazine)/ Pampers workshop two Saturdays ago.

I try and keep my expectations low so that I'm not disappointed in the speakers, etc.

I even said to my coach, "all I want out of the morning is to spend some girl time with my friends and if I learn something, GREAT!"

Well, I learned a whole lot of somethingS AND THEN SOME.

We had wonderful, wonderful food.... always a good sign, a goodie bag full of wonderful things, a 6-month subscription to the magazine (that, by itself is worth the cost of the workshop) and all in a beautiful venue.

that's my little black Corsa on the right of the pic

Okay, so I got lost twice - on the way there and then leaving again. I am USELESS with maps but I refuse to get GPS as I believe they're for lazy people. Yes, lazy but punctual people. So I drive with a map book and a highlighter (!) and keep pulling over to check I'm on track.

Anyway, moving along...

The speaker was Sister Lilian, a very well-known midwife and nurse in South Africa. Since the workshop, I've been onto her site and guess what? She sells 15-minute advice sessions for ONLY R50 ($6,50) - bargain!

I'm slow! I just realised I can phone her about the food issues! Yay.

Right, so she's a lot more woo-woo than I am... no surprise there but a LOT of what she said makes a lot of sense.

I'm not going to type out everything she said (although I do have 5 pages of notes - yes, I'm a nerd and I always have a notebook with me) but these are the things I found particularly interesting:

  • treat your children as individuals and they'll be their perfect little selves
  • find your OWN children's rhythms
  • as long as it (whatever it is in the particular situation) isn't harmful or unkind to your babies, it's FINE
  • parenting is about survival
  • you will be far happier when you take your baby's temperament into account
  • if you don't diagnose the problem properly, you can't find a solution.

E.g. don't say, "my baby's not sleeping!"

That's not true.

Say, "my baby wakes 3 times every night and THAT is stressing me out" - the problem is now diagnosed - (1) baby waking 3 times and (2) your stress.

Also, she said people don't tell other people (it's that secrecy thing again) that they got up twice to put dummies (pacifiers) in their babies' mouths, or they had to get up to shush and rock the baby, etc, etc

That's true.

So for the sake of keeping it 100% real, my babies go to bed drowsy but awake, put themselves to sleep and when they do wake, we are up for a maximum of 10 minutes each time, feed the baby, no rocking, and straight back to sleep for me (D sometimes battles to fall back asleep).

Not bad.

The title of her presentation on sleep was called Sleepless in South Africa.

Isnt' that great?

We discussed how the "sleeping like a baby" thing is actually a myth. The only people who sleep like babies are:

  1. earth mother types - I am not one of these
  2. pleasantly plump babies who love food, easy-to-please, placid, calm dispositions, etc. - in Baby Whisperer terms, sounds to me like Angel babies

The things I took away about sleep (there were much more):

  1. a relaxed mother equals a relaxed baby (or babies, as is our case), hence the Zen-ness, Saffy :)
  2. don't ever disturb the core sleep (first long stretch of sleep) with dream feeds and whatnot (I'd been wondering if I should try and give a bottle at 10/ 11)
  3. don't clockwatch (oh I'm an expert at this, can we say *ahem* The Notebook) because you are focussing your attention on the problem and what you focus on, expands. Psych 1.
  4. this is only temporary (even if you think it will never end) - LauraC told me once that the only reason I'm obsessed is because I can't see the end of the sleeplessness. If I knew WHEN it would happen, I'd relax. Very, very true. Wise woman, that Laura :)
  5. I am not alone. Did you get that? I AM NOT ALONE.

That was the biggest take away for me - I am not alone.

All over Johannesburg there are babies not sleeping. In fact, if your baby is sleeping through, you are in the minority (30%).

Do you know how chipper I was when I heard that?

I swear she set me free.

I could FEEL the weight lift from my shoulders and sat there inwardly smiling the rest of the time.

The MINUTE her presentation ended (there was time for Q & A afterwards) I RUSHED to her to thank her for giving me peace.

Yes, I did.

I would have paid for the entire workshop just to hear that statement.

I am not alone!

I haven't thrown out The Notebook - that will only happen when I can actually remember which baby ate what and I fear that may never be...

And just because I am not alone doesn't mean we stop striving for total sleeping through (I'll post a sleep update in a few days' time) but I now know that actually, my sitation isn't that bad - it's just my bad luck that I am friends with the 30% of people who have babies sleeping through.

Thank God for Caroline, my friend with the twins, otherwise I'd really feel like I was in the twilight zone.


  1. Hooray! I'm so glad you went!

    People keep asking me when my kids slept through the night, and I have no idea. I suppose that in my book they starting sleeping through the night when they were dry through the night, because *I* was no longer waking to change nappies.

    Of course, I also consider it sleeping through the night if they wake, and are able to comfort themselves without me visiting their room.

    I suppose they were two or so when *I* started sleeping through the night. :)

  2. I agree with Sadie, the real key is when I started sleeping through the night. :) Laura C is very wise, I agree. Also, my friend Julie (The Duchesses mom) has seen Dr. Feber (one of the 2 biggest US sleep gurus, the other is my favorite Dr. Weissbluth). He says that kids may need as little as 11 hours of sleep a day - inclunding naps. They put The Duchess down at 8:30 pm and pray she sleeps until 6:00 am. But poor Julie spends a LOT of time thinking about schedules and sleep and 18 months later is no better off. It makes me grateful for my good sleepers and I bet Spyder will be a nightmare. :)

  3. That day sounds like the best investment you've made :) The tidbit about 30% of kids sleeping through must've made you feel far more 'on the bell curve' huh?

    The last few nights D has been waking at about 10.30/11 for no apparent reason other than wanting a cuddle. Then down she goes again. I've taken your zen approach to this and am not letting it wind me up anymore.

    Mommy Esq's comment about as little as 11 hours sleep is also interesting to know. I'll stop looking at her with accusing eyes that are saying 'but you've still got to cram another 4 hours sleep in today, Missy' :)


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