How Jeff Lewis saved my sanity

We just celebrated my son Noah’s 6th birthday and I can’t believe how fast and slow these 6 years have passed. I read a quote that said “The days go slow but the years go fast”-unknown. That accurately sums it up! I’ve spent the last week and a half reminiscing and I truly realized that I owe my livelihood today to a celebrity designer named Jeff Lewis.

Let me explain.

You see, in 2009 I was beyond excited to be pregnant.  I had a great pregnancy and even inspired a friend to reconsider her “I’m not having any kids” theory (she’s expecting her 2nd soon!). I loved everything about being pregnant and couldn’t wait to have a baby. Honestly! I had to be induced because at 7 days late, baby was making no signs of meeting us. My induction and labor were awful and after 11 hours of labor and an hour and half of pushing, our baby finally arrived with one arm first.  A BOY!!!! So exciting since I have 4 nieces on my side, 2 on my husband’s side and 2 step daughters.  Everyone, including myself, was just delighted!

He was born at 2:40 pm and all the normal things took place after a short stop to get some oxygen (cord was wrapped around his neck 3 times). Pictures, family in and out to see him, bath, and trying out some breastfeeding.  I was exhausted since I had been up the entire night due to the induction and it was a rush of emotions and hormones and fatigue.

Our first night in the hospital with Noah proved to be the start of it all-the first of many, many sleepless nights.  He started crying and he didn’t stop unless he was on my boob which we both didn’t know how to do properly yet. It hurt! Badly! We would all get a little sleep here and there in between the screaming wails of the newborn and then a nurse would enter to check vitals, or 6 am rolled around and the pediatrician was there to check on Noah. There were many distractions at the hospital and trying to figure out how to breastfeed and be a mom while exhausted with visitors and such in and out for 2 days was a bit overwhelming.

We went home.

Noah was still not latching correctly, even after 5,000 calls and visits from the lactation specialist, and it was frustrating and the excitement of being home with MY child trumped my need for sleep. What a whirlwind those first few days are!

Our first night home he slept a bit then woke up screaming. Changed diaper and shoved him on the boobies-all was good, until he was off and he was screaming again. Burped him, rocked him, checked diaper, gave him to hubby, got him back put back on boob. Repeated this for a few hours until I remembered I had some binkies and out of desperation because the lactation experts warn against using them while breastfeeding, I ripped open the package, boiled them and shoved it into Noah’s screaming mouth (once cooled of course). It “pacified” him for a bit, just long enough for me to collect myself and lay down to fall asleep.

WAAAAAA!!!!!!

He was at it again. And this went on for years. No exaggeration. Every.single.night.  Screaming and crying for 6-8 straight hours, no joke.

Many appointments with the pediatrician which led to appointments with a sleep specialist which led to daily detailed sleep logs, melatonin, and a sleep study which showed us that he didn’t cycle through his sleep cycles correctly probably caused by his insomnia.  I could write for days on all the problems we experienced with Noah’s sleep issues, and I probably will over the summer so hang on to the edge of your seat for that, but this post is about how Jeff Lewis saved me during that time in my life.

You see one day a few weeks into motherhood, I was mindlessly searching through the TV channels while feeding Noah (which was now going well for both of us), and stumbled across a show called “Flipping Out”. I had seen it on the guide before but never watched. That day was different, I turned it on and immediately began laughing my ass off and just enjoyed watching it. They had a mini marathon of it on, and I was tuned in and turned on.

Jeff Lewis saved me that day.  For a couple hours I watched his show and escaped all my feelings of inadequacy as a new mom with a baby who cried all night long, every night. He made me laugh and laughing was better than crying, so he saved me from crying my eyes out for a few hours every week. I love him for that!

You may be thinking that I’m dramatic or how bad could it really have been since Noah was for all intensive purposes a healthy child. Yes, my son was healthy as medical conditions go, and by no means am I trying to sound like my life was just as bad or worse as any parent who has a child with a life threatening condition, but Noah’s colic and chronic inability to sleep more than a few hours at a time did take its toll on me and my family.

Just a tiny bit of info on effects of sleep deprivation so you can appreciate how I can be so thankful to a TV personality:

  • Severe lack of sleep affects everything about you and what you do. According to WebMD, severe lack of sleep impairs attention, alertness, concentration, reasoning, and problem solving which makes it more difficult to learn efficiently.  It contributes to the symptoms of depression over time (insomnia is often one of the first symptoms of depression and insomniacs are 5 times as likely to develop depressions as those without) and people who were diagnosed with depression and/or anxiety were more likely to sleep less than six hours at night.  Sleep loss also causes the body to release too little human growth hormone. My kids have always been on the small end of the growth charts, much smaller than average and they’ve both had difficulties with sleeping. Now, 6 years later, Noah is sleeping more regularly and indeed seems to be growing better too. Sleep loss also affects the obvious with memory loss, can make you gain weight, impairs judgment and affects our interpretation of events which hurts our ability to make sound judgments because you’re unable to assess situations accurately and act on them wisely. WebMD even states that it may increase our risk of death! “A 2007 study showed that those who had cut their sleep from seven to five hours or fewer a night nearly doubled their risk of death from all causes. In particular, lack of sleep doubled the risk of death from cardiovascular disease.”

Ouch!!!!! I’m doomed!

Well, maybe I was just doing it all wrong? We have to sleep train our kids and when they are born, they are essentially nocturnal for the first few weeks. Its up to the parents to get our kids to sleep and sleep well.  Let me tell you something.  I carry around huge amount of guilt believing that my kids (especially Noah having been the worst sleeper) inherited their insomnia from me (it is hereditary and I’ve suffered myself my whole life as too my mother) and that I royally fucked them up because I couldn’t get it right in regards to sleeping.  I have read and tried every book written on babies and sleeping. I’ve tried every technique, including crying it out, which in the books tells stories of parents who were using this method and the first night their child cried for an hour or two straight then went to sleep, next night only 45 minutes of crying, next night 30 minutes, and so on.  I took my pediatricians advise and we literally camped out in the basement of our split level so we couldn’t hear Noah’s shrieks as loudly (I still could and I had a monitor with lights to show the noise and level of crying) and for a week straight Noah cried it out for an entire 8 hours. Every night. I would check him after a while to make sure he didn’t have a dirty diaper and he would still feed once or twice at night then, but as soon as he was done eating he picked up where he left off with his screaming and was back at it full steam ahead. It wasn’t just soft crying or fussing either, it was full blown I sound like I’m dying screaming. IT WAS AWFUL.

I felt bad for my step daughters who had to go to school and my hubby who somehow had to work while so exhausted. There were a few incidents where I just couldn’t take my child crying another second and I would wake matt up at 2-3 am and just give him the baby so I wouldn’t lose it completely. I also tried the “baby wise” technique, I put shirts of mine in his bed so he could smell me and maybe be comforted, we had strict bedtime routines and naps were limited during the day.  I ate a completely bland diet as to try to not to affect Noah’s belly since I was primarily breastfeeding. I would try to sleep on the floor of his room so he wouldn’t be scared. I’m telling you we tried every conceivable thing anyone could dream up and it just did not work. He had has a biological problem when it comes to sleep and its taken me 6 years to accept that it wasn’t my fault in the way I was taking care of him. It’s the way his brain processes his sleep cycles and although I’m not perfect, nor my husband, we did the best we could at the time with what we had.

Speaking of husbands, I am very lucky to still have mine today. The first 3 years of Noah’s life were the worst in regards to his sleep issues and the effects were hard on everyone, including how it affected our marriage. Because we were so tired and I was a complete zombie and still trying to learn how be a mom which at this point basically consisted of me just keeping Noah and myself alive, we fought all the time. Over nothing most times, sometimes for good reason, but in actuality it wasn’t our fault mostly because we were just simply too tired to make sense of our life at that time and too frustrated with our baby. It was hard dealing with my child who I loved so much and longed for and when he wasn’t crying, oh he was wonderful, but on the other hand he really and truly made me so sad. There were many times that I felt like I couldn’t take care of him one more day, and all these terrible thoughts I would have would make me feel like the biggest piece of shit in the world. I felt like a complete failure as a mom because he didn’t sleep, didn’t grow much, was skinny and cried 85% of the day. I was sucking big time at being a mom but there wasn’t much more I could do to help him. Then Matt and I would fight on top of all the issues I was having with Noah and it just made me feel even worse. It wasn’t Matt’s fault and we’re all the better now for going through it together. However, then I was angry and bitter all the time and I was beyond exhausted. I really couldn’t do a whole lot outside of the house either because I wasn’t sure if Noah would be ok or just start screaming and not stop for a while. It wasn’t always a great time and another reason why Jeff Lewis saved me, because I could escape my reality and watch his, and his was better than mine.

I got the once in a lifetime chance to meet Jeff in person this past March 🙂  Once I got over being star struck I told him how I came to love “Flipping Out” because of Noah not sleeping and crying so much and how he brought me some joy during that dark time. He told me that he’s heard that before from people and we laughed. I couldn’t believe I got to tell him that! It made my whole day, week, month, who am I kidding I’m still thrilled about it! Can’t wait for his show to start back up on July 1st!

I’ll write more about overcoming Noah’s sleep issues in other posts since I get asked about it a lot, but for now I’ll end with another thank you to Jeff Lewis. You saved my sanity back then and continue to entertain me today.

It's Jeff! Right next to me!! I'm

It’s Jeff! Right next to me!! I’m “Flipping Out” literally. Reagan seemed to like him 🙂

wpid-img_20150328_181117313.jpg

Noah all hooked up at his sleep study. 2012

Noah all hooked up at his sleep study. 2012

I totally fell asleep while rocking Noah. Gotta get some Z's sometime!

I totally fell asleep while rocking Noah. Gotta get some Z’s sometime!

It was so rare to catch Noah sleeping that we would take pictures of him like freaks when he was!

It was so rare to catch Noah sleeping that we would take pictures of him like freaks when he was!

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