How My ‘Nightmare’ Maternity Leave Became a ‘Joy’
The first in a series of profiles of real moms with real challenges…who were helped by SNOO.
Allison, a C.P.A. in Evansville, Ind., was eagerly anticipating being off from work after the birth of her baby. But, within days, her joyous time turned into, in her words, “a nightmare.”
“I met some work friends while I was on leave in the first few weeks, and they said, ‘Oh aren’t you glad you’re not at work?’ and I said, ‘Actually, I would love to be at work right now.’”
It wasn’t supposed to be that way. In preparing for leave she had thought, “Oh my gosh, this will be great. I’m going to have 10 weeks off…Basically, I couldn’t wait for it to happen.”
But when baby Bridget arrived, Allison and her husband Ben faced an all-too-common new parent struggle: Bridget refused to sleep anywhere but in their arms. The instant they’d gently place her in the bassinet, she’d start shrieking. And, like Ground Hog Day, that demoralizing scene repeated itself over and over and over for 6 weeks.
Trying just to survive, the couple grasped on to a schedule where Ben would care for Bridget from 8 p.m. to midnight, then Allison would take over, so that Ben could snag 5 hours of sleep before bolting out of the house at 5 a.m. to his job as a Construction Manager at a plastics company.Allison’s daytime life mirrored her night existence: She’d struggle to get Bridget down asleep in the bassinet, then crash on the couch, only to have Bridget wake and wail 40 minutes later, insisting on being in moms’ arms. In her semi-conscious state, Allison would feed Bridget, only to startle awake—after having fallen asleep, baby tenuously in arms.
“I read a blog where someone wrote, ‘I wouldn’t wish sleep deprivation on my worst enemy.’ Going weeks at a time without sleep—it really gets to you,” she said. “I mean, we were zombies.”
And, of course, Allison was stressed about her baby’s safety.
“We freaked out,” she said. “Obviously, we knew we shouldn’t fall asleep with her in our arms. We thought, ‘Oh my gosh, we’re going to kill her if we keep falling asleep like this!’ But we felt like we didn’t have a choice because she wouldn’t sleep.”
Then one morning Allison was watching the Today Show and heard about a bed that helps babies who can’t sleep without being held. Allison thought, “That’s my baby. Maybe that’s what I need.”
And she ordered her SNOO.
“It was pretty good that first week, but I was still kind of on the fence, not sure if it was worth it. But in the second week, [Bridget] slept for 6 hours. And once she had that 6-hour span, it was more and more consistent. I’d get up with her once and she’d usually sleep till 9 a.m.”
Once Bridget was sleeping 6+ hours at a time, everything took a turn for the better. Allison made the most of her final 3 ½ weeks of leave: “It was Christmastime so we got pictures with Santa—with my sister-in-law, who had a baby 6 weeks after I did. We’d just go and meet up together with our babies. Once I started getting sleep, it became just a joy, just fun to be with Bridget, because during the day I had so much more energy.”
Allison’s advice to other new moms? Don’t worry about doing whatever is necessary to get the help to get you through these challenging first months.
“Some people just think, ‘I can’t tell anyone that I’m not enjoying this because they’ll think I’m a terrible mother.’ But I think it’s okay to tell people, ‘This is really hard, I need help!’’