Podcasts Aarti Gosrani on trusting your instincts, surviving and thriving with a wakeful baby and enjoying the quiet moments Listen/ Watch links: Enjoying the show and you'd like even more? Become a Patron! SUMMARY- Aarti shares her experiences with both her little ones, including a NICU stay, Post Natal Anxiety, and a wakeful second baby while working full time. She also shares how she found joy in surrender and beauty in the quiet moments before sleep with her little ones, as well as where she found the support she needed. Full Episode Transcript: Carly: The Beyond Sleep Training Podcast- a podcast dedicated to sharing real tales of how people have managed sleep in their family outside of sleep training culture because sleep looks different with a baby in the house and because every family is different there is no one-size-fits-all approach to take. I’d like to acknowledge the traditional custodians of the land on which this podcast is being recorded, the Kalkadoon people, I pay my respects to the elders of this nation and the many other nations our guests reside in from the past, present and emerging. We honour Australian Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and the unique cultural and spiritual relationships to the land, water and seas as well as their rich contributions to society including the birthing and nurturing of children. Carly:And welcome back to the Beyond Sleep Training podcast. I’m your host, Carly Grubb, and with me today is one of our volunteers from the Beyond Sleep Training Project, Aarti Gosrani. Welcome to the show Aarti. Aarti:Thank you Carly. Pleasure to be here. Carly:Now Aarti, I believe that you have got a different background in that you actually grew up in Britain but you’re living in the United States currently. Is that right? Aarti:That is correct. Yes. I’m in Austin, Texas now, but born and raised in London. Carly:Excellent. So you’ll be able to bring a bit of a different perspective in that we’ll be able to hear how… how those experiences marry up when it comes to raising your babies as well. Before we dive too far in would you mind introducing who’s who in your little family? Aarti:Absolutely. I’ve got my husband PK, who usually comes last but I’m putting him first today, and then I have Niya, my 6-year-old, who was my first sleep thief, and my little one, Ishani, 3 years old. Carly:Lovely. And can you tell me a little bit about how did you think you were going to handle sleep with your family before you had that first baby? Aarti:I didn’t have too many preconceptions. I have a lot of cousins and a lot of younger cousins, and I’ve seen some of my older cousins have children and I’ve seen lots of different kinds of sleep arrangements over time. I didn’t actually have too many preconceived ideas, which is probably a little bit different. We only had, say what we call a pack and play in the United States, so I think it’s the equivalent of a travel cot in the UK and Australia. We only had one of those for our firstborn. We didn’t actually have a crib set up when she was born, and she was in our room. Carly:Excellent. And so you… were you planning on breastfeeding or how did you think that side of feeding and sleeping was going to go? Aarti:So, I was planning on breastfeeding. In my head I thought, yeah, we’ll breastfeed for six months and then we’ll be done with it. But it never quite panned out that way. We… we did start breastfeeding. My older one was in NICU for about 48 hours so I started pumping super early. So, my supply actually benefitted from that, but it was, the first two, three weeks were tough just trying to get her to go from the bottle and, you know, nursing. We fell into a pattern with her quite quickly, and she was also a really, really efficient nurser by one month, which kind of, you know, it’s a little confusing at that point because you expect… I kept on hearing about how long it would take. We settled into a nice pattern and she, until she was about two-and-a-half, three months she was actually in a good routine where she’d be up… She’d go to sleep about 11 and she’d wake up at 4. So we had a decent stretch of sleep at that point and we thought, oh, excellent. We… we… we’re going to be okay here. And then she hit her 4 month sleep progression. Carly:They get so sleepy right before they hit that so often, don’t they? Aarti:I think it lulls you into a false sense of security, especially with your first. Right? And you think, oh, this is okay. I’ve got it down. And then boom. What's going on at 4 months? Carly:Yeah. I think it… it makes you, you almost feel like, oh, I survived that. Like that… that bit’s done now. Now we’re into the sleeping bit. And it’s like, hang on a second. And that’s like, it’s backed by research, that’s the peak sleepy time for most babies. That’s the longest they usually sleep in their first year of life, is around that 3 month mark. And then it goes back to, with all of the development that comes for the rest of that 12 months. So yeah, sounds like she was bang on and you got the rude shock. Development and sleep Aarti:Yeah. And I wasn’t really that familiar with the concept of bed sharing at that point, and we were still trying to keep her in the, you know, keep her in the bassinet as much as we could. Then we travel over to the… to the UK to visit family when she was about 5 months old, and again there [5:00] were points in time where she was putting herself down for a nap and, you know, things like that, but very few and far between. Most of her naps for the first six months of life were contact naps, either with myself or I would was really fortunate that between my mother and my mother-in-law we had family support around for the first six months. And everyone was happy to snuggle the baby while she was sleeping. So she… she had a lot of snuggles. She was a 40 minute napper to the point you could time take. It was perfect timing. And when my father-in-law first came to visit it was hilarious because he would be like, great, you’ve got to sleep and now I’ve got 40 minutes to run around, do all my errands and everything, then she’ll be up and we can play again. Carly:See, he had the clockwork down pat. I love it. He knew. Aarti:Yeah. So we, well, she knew what she was doing. I had no idea because with my… in my view I thought babies were supposed to nap for like two hours at a time. You know. So, I had quite a few misconceptions, just based on all the stuff that we see out there. But I grew up bedsharing with my ma, like my mum and dad and then also with my grandmother who I spent a lot of time with when I was little. So, the idea of like trying, you know, it was kind of a natural thing to do with Niya. We ended up, the 8 to 10 month was sheer madness. I went back to work when she was 8 months, so that coupled with the fact that – and over here in the States it’s like, it’s not a slow transition into it. You know? I was lucky I had the eight months. But I went back to work and she was going, you know, she was already crawling by the time I went back and then she was trying to learn how to walk and talk and eat and everything, and 8 to 10 month was the worse and that’s when we started actually bed sharing because it meant that I was able to get a little more sleep. Safer shared sleep Carly:And I guess too if you’ve been separated from her for that whole day it helps you reconnect, doesn’t it? When you’ve had to… it bridges that separation as well, for both of you really. Aarti:Yeah. Absolutely. I was lucky in the fact that most of the time I was going to be working from home, but I did have to go from not going in at all to going in for two weeks straight. I had a four-hour commute every day on the days I was travelling. Carly:Oh yuck Aarti. Aarti:I was sort of working everything around with my pump and, you know, all those things. But yeah, it was… it was a tough transition. It was a really hard transition for all of us. And sleep really kind of suffered through that. But we just, you know, once we started bed sharing that made it easier. Carly:And did you… so when you started bed sharing was it like a conscious decision or did you find you were just finding yourself asleep with her? Like were you able to set yourself up safely? Or did that kind of come afterwards? Aarti:So, I started looking at what the safest options were and I found the concept of the floor bed. And we had her… we had her in the room next to us, because she was crawling and she was standing and everything. So, you know, the pack and play was long gone and we had bought a crib for her by that point. We picked up, you know, sort of the Ikea crib because, so we got her something that would work. And she was okay in there for certain naps and stuff, but by the night time, she just wanted to be snuggled up. But I was less scared about bedsharing by that point because she was, you know, she was mobile and it’s probably me who was going to come out with an injury at that point, by the morning. So it was… it was a conscious decision and the safest way I think it was to put the, you know, mattress on the floor. We had carpeted like room so it was okay. And she would start the night in the crib and then once she kind of woke up for her first… because that would give me a little bit of space in the evening just to get other stuff done, and then once she was… once she was, you know, beyond like 11 o’clock when I was going to be I would just join her at that point. Carly:Lovely. And did you find that, like was that a good way to maximise your sleep? Were you getting more rest once you started doing that? Need ideas on how to maximise your own sleep? Aarti:Yeah. I think that for her knowing that I was close definitely helped, and she was still quite a quick nurser in the night, so she would only need to nurse maximum five minutes and then just snuggle. So, and that definitely helped at that point. And, you know, the… I was having a conversation and we had a paediatrician who… who mentioned sleep training and things like that around six months, but he never really pushed it and he always said she’ll figure it out eventually. Carly:That’s actually amazing considering you’re in the US. That’s not what we hear from most of the [10:00] US members, is it? Aarti:No. But it really is, and we were pretty lucky in that respect. They weren’t for bed sharing, and I wasn’t as open about it at that point. Kind of we just said, yeah, she had a safe sleep space, which was true because it was a safe sleep for her. We had a firm mattress. Yeah, he was… he never pushed us onto the sleep training dialogue, which was helpful. Carly:That is really helpful and it’s, also it’s refreshing for people to know that too, because sometimes it feels like every person you’re coming across is pushing that agenda, but actually there’s… there’s lots of professionals out there who are already aware that there’s a range of ways to support families that don’t necessarily push them down that sleep training path. So, I’m really pleased that you were able to score one of those, right when you needed it too, which is great. Aarti:Yeah, definitely. Carly:So during the day, what was sleep like during the day through this period? Aarti:So, until she – when I was at home with her she would… she would, I think she started off on about five naps. You know, her 40 minute naps. And then every now and again she would do slightly longer naps. She didn’t really drop down to one nap until she started day-care and, you know, then she started like consolidating. But outside of her being sick or, you know, just, you know, if we’d been travelling, I don’t think she ever did more than a two hour nap on one shot, or maybe there was one like two-and-a-half our nap that we got to that… Yeah, and so daytime sleep was short, contact naps for the most part. Carly:And so did you have like babywearing as a tool back then? Or was it purely like a sit-down, chill out session with her on someone’s chest? Aarti:Luckily the former. With her I… I would put her in the carrier like when we were out and about but, you know, when it’s one child it’s easier and you kind of, I just kind of binged out on Netflix sort of thing, so just kind of making the most of that. Carly:It’s pretty… Aarti:I was in a lucky position to be able to do it. Carly:Yeah, but it is also, it’s like an opportunity to rest. Like, I know with my first really wakeful guy, like that was actually once I figured out that, oh hang on a sec, like that’s my chance to sit down and even if I’m not asleep let my body rest. Aarti:Yeah. Carly:It’s a great way to let yourself actually get through that period, and like you say, with your first one you can do that, so why not take those opportunities while you can. So, you were back at work where on 8 months. You said it was really rough sleep-wise, around 8 to 10. How did it kind of pan out from… from then into toddlerhood for her? Aarti:I think, so she started day-care when she was just over a year old, and then because she was in day-care she went down to one nap I think probably somewhere between 15 and 18 months. Gosh, it’s like a long time ago. Carly:It blurs in, doesn’t it? Aarti:It really does. You kind of forget at that time, you know, if you haven’t… I used to have an app which I used with her from quite early on, but more as a tracking tool rather than dictating tool per se. You know, just so that I would remember like which side did I feed her on or when did we last do a change, because those things you forget and then you do it. But um, yeah so, we just, we kind of continued on that and then we were able to bed share. Like my husband and I would do split shifts when I was back at work full-time and stuff so, you know, he’d be able to take her for a beginning portion of the night and stuff. We night weaned about 18, 19 months. And then she… she always would want someone to sit with her. You know, so not until she was closer to probably 5 that it was okay to kind of, to go to sleep by herself. But it was our time to reconnect, and even now, you know, kind of that time before bedtime, that snuggle and the reading and catching up and chitchatting and asking all the meaningful questions like why do giraffes have long necks. So, yeah, that’s kind of how it panned out with her. But… Carly:That’s beautiful and I think that’s something for people to be mindful of too, because sometimes it feels like bedtime can be a bit of a rush to get out of there, but if you can actually take it as the… it’s actually a really brief moment in what can be very hectic days and schedules and whatnot where it can just give you the chance to slow down and be with your babies, because I know that for me with my school-aged people as well, like they still [15:00] love to have someone in there. Not always until they’re completely asleep, but at least when they’re doing that first settle into getting comfy in bed and whatnot. And it’s… it could seem like a chore, and I think sometimes when you’ve got other things waiting for you it can feel like it drags out, but really it’s a great call to just be mindful of that moment and be present with them for that short amount of time, reconnect, and often it means much smoother bedtime, or it does in our house anyway. Aarti:Yep. No, I absolutely agree. And I mean I enjoy it. You know, we’ve had some of our most fun conversations and doing the stories and all that, and I think it’s… it’s an important part. And you know, for me, when I go back to my childhood memories I still remember like when I used to sleepover with my grandmother and stuff like that. Like, she’d tuck me in, we’d say our prayers together and then she’d like snuggle and then I still remember that. And I think there’s such powerful memories and so much love in those moments. Carly:I love that. It’s imprinted on your soul. Aarti:It really is. Carly:That’s beautiful, and you can give that to your children. So I love that. Now, I’m just thinking, so we’ve heard how… how your first love went. What was it like welcoming your second babe to the family? Aarti:So, she came when her sister was 3 years and one day old. And that was… Carly:Wow, close to sharing a birthday. Aarti:Almost. Very, very close to it. I’m really glad they don’t, but she and the older one didn’t… she wasn’t sleeping by herself at that point. My mum came over to help out from London and when we were in hospital, I was so worried, you know, because she was so used… she… that was the first time I was not in the same building as her overnight, and it was hard. But she did amazingly, and my mum just, she told her exactly where she was and, you know, in the night if she gets up she knew where to walk to and all that kind of stuff. And my mum co-slept with her if she needed the snuggles at night. And then we came home with the little one and the little one… she slept, we had the crib already set up because we were in a different house when we had it, but we had already set it up as a side-car, because we knew about that by that point. So then we had the crib, you know, the Ikea crib that’s very easy to pull apart and put up like that. We never took out the pack… well, pack and play ended up being used in… in sort of our upstairs area at that point, just in case we needed a spot to put her down because with a second child you need somewhere to keep them safe on a more regular basis, especially when you have a pre-schooler running around. Carly:Who loves their baby very much. Or they did in our house. Aarti:Yeah. The second one, she loved her naps. She… she could do her one-and-a-half, two-hour naps. And I didn’t have to hold her the whole time. In fact sometimes she’d kind of like in her sleep she’d push me away. Bizarre, I know. Carly:You’re like 'what is this?' Aarti:We had some kind of, you know, challenges nursing in the first couple of weeks as well, just kind of, and you forget how hard it is with a newborn. So I’d weaned my older one when I was pregnant just because I was… spent all my time throwing up, so I couldn’t really hold anything down. So we ended up weaning. But then kind of going back to newborn, and I had an amazing lactation consultant who came home and just kind of walked me through it, but because I was concerned about weight gain in the first two weeks, and I think it was an unnecessary concern looking back on it, but in the moment of it, you know, it kind of gets scary. But and then we just transitioned. So after my mum left my husband would sleep with the older one as she needed to, and then we kind of just divided and conquered in that way. And we, I started bed sharing, like she was on my bed a lot earlier compared to her sister, but just because I was more comfortable with it. And the other side of it is I wear a hearing aid before my older one was a newborn my husband was in the room, so even if he was just tapping me on my shoulder just to wake, you know, let me know that she’s crying, I had him in the room, where he was off with the other one. So, having her close by made a bit difference because I could just feel. I will say though, even though the hearing aid thing, I would find myself always waking up about three minutes before either kid wakes up, because you just know it’s going to happen. And then you’re leaking all over the place and those early days anyway. So, but it was… it was really fascinating how the instinct kicked in. Carly:That’s amazing, and so, like I also had a similar like physical experience, I remember with my first one wondering if I was waking the baby because I always seemed to like wake just before but, you know, we did the sleep training [20:00] thing. So, it seemed to still happen to me even when he was further away from me. Like it was… it must be just that connection across – the physiological connection. How amazing though. So you’d sense that she was about to wake, you’d be awake and ready to feed. I love that. That’s so cool. Aarti:It was really funny because, so when my husband was, with the older one, when he was… when he’d gone back to work and stuff, like he used to still get up in the night and do the nappy changes and stuff and then I’d do the feeding. But some nights , like if I’d just woken up I’d go and I’d change her, and she was completely quiet. Like, she would be awake a little bit, but she was still quiet. And he in the morning he’d be like, ‘You guys didn’t wake up last night?’ But because we were able to be that quiet, because I guess she just knew that we were there. Carly:Yeah, and it was probably just a familiar pattern to her, for her as well. Like, she’d always been so promptly responded to, it’s kind of like, ‘Oh yeah, mum’s just going to do this and…’ Yeah, that’s beautiful. That's synchrony, isn’t it? Aarti:It is, but then my tiny terror, as I like to call her sometimes, she… I think… I think the 4 month, maybe around the 4 month… from 4 months to 20 months she was a night terror. Like, it was awful. It was such awful sleep, and I… I wasn’t stressing about it as much, it was just this state of perpetual exhaustion. It was just hard. Carly:And there’s no two ways about it, is there? Like that’s the thing, if you’ve got a really wakeful baby despite all the things that you can do for yourself, it’s undeniably hard. Aarti:Yeah. It is. I was working from home. I’d head back when she was 3 weeks old, but I was only doing a… Carly:3 weeks? Aarti. Aarti:Welcome to the US. Carly:I know, just as I – I just feel like we need to like just mention this for a second. For listeners in the US, just so you know, the rest of the world has got things like parental leave where you can actually spend some time recovering from labour and delivery and pregnancy and all of those things and still have secure employment at the end of it. Like the US is massively behind in terms of those policies. So, I’m very sorry, you really shouldn’t have needed to go back to work three weeks postpartum. Aarti:So, I will say I had… I was supposed to take a couple of months off, but because this one napped in the day and I also had a complication which meant that I was stuck in bed, and by that point, I was sick of Netflix. I wasn’t doing as many hours. I was doing like four, five hours a week. And it was complete… I was fortunate enough that it was completely my choice to go back and do that. I wouldn’t have been able to do it with my first, but with the second I think there’s a different level of comfort. And my mum was here for a little while as well, and then once my mum left around 4 months we had a nanny who used to come home. But despite me going back to work so early she was exclusively breastfed the whole time from the get-go and that was what we wanted for her. Carly:Wow. Aarti:So, whenever like… and I’m super lucky in my role, in the way that it’s structured, in that if I needed to step away for like an hour to go deal with the kids it’s okay. And because of that flexibility that it offered me, I was happy to kind of figure the balance out. She didn’t end up starting day-care until she was 2, which my older one went back when I was 1 because… sorry when she was 1 because I was, you know, working full-time. But we had a very different sort of pattern to it. And she was… when she was awake, she was super attached to me, but with her sometimes when she was napping I would keep her in the baby carrier just with me, just so that we could snuggle up and be close, if she was having moments where she didn’t want to go to sleep like, you know, on the bed or whatever. But yes, it is definitely mind-blowing when I talk to people, especially back in the UK and my friends there, and I was like, ‘Yeah, I went back at 3 weeks. Carly:Oh. Like I get that. And especially like you said too, like at the time everything was pretty chill, and so it probably… but it’s just that whole, I don’t know, we hear so many stories of mums having to work when they’re in the maternity hospital beds and whatnot, and it’s just not how it’s meant to be. It’s inhumane treatment of someone who’s just been through what a person has been through growing a whole human and then trying to nurture a tiny person. And then like in your story you can sometimes come home with a really cruisy, sleepy newborn who suddenly wakes up at 4 months… Aarti:Yep. Carly:… and no longer sleepily, happily [25:00] ever after by the sound of it. So tell me, because you had a toddler, you’re working. What did you actually do to try and maintain some kind of wellness through this time? Aarti:So, I did find I did experience postpartum anxiety. And I had a little bit of it with my older one, but I didn’t really understand. Like just thought maybe it’s just, you know, being overwhelmed with everything being new. And then I found it kind of kicked in again with my little one, so I spoke to… I spoke to my, you know, OBGYN here and stuff and I did start talking to a therapist which was super helpful. And just, you know, building in little things in the day, going for a walk kind of thing. And we… I’m… like we’re super like 50/50 of pretty much everything. If he could lactate my husband would happily have done it. But he… he is, you know, very conscious about making sure each other gets some time to do other stuff as well. It’s... it’s not going to always work, and especially through COVID it’s been a little intense and crazy, but we both work from home so when, now when the kids are at school, you know, we make sure we kind of get stuff done like in the house and all that, which is easier. But it does get hard. You know, not being able to sleep. Talking, too – I think the biggest step for me was finding a group of friends. I mean Beyond Sleep Training Project as a group was phenomenal in like just being able to realise this is okay, this is normal, this is natural. And then with the whole kind of rise of gentle parenting into a different way, I’ve actually made some incredible friends who I may have met virtually in the first place, but then they’ve become real life friends. And just being able to talk to them, you know, it’s okay to vent our frustrations with each other, even if we’re trying to do something differently with the kids. Carly:I love that. And because I think that’s actually a huge part of the experience is, because it kind of validates you, it allows you to be seen, but it doesn’t necessarily mean that you’re doing anything wrong or that you need to make changes you don’t feel comfortable with. And that’s kind of the support that a lot of us need when we’re going through those really rough patches. And I’m so glad you have a supportive partner, because I think that’s something that’s missing in a lot of people’s lives when they’re going through these rough patches. Not having someone who can… can be an effective partner and an effective buffer to make sure that wherever possible you are getting some relief, because sometimes that’s all you actually need to get through is that relief. Or just an understanding person who’s… who’s there to back you up when you need them the most. So, I’m really pleased you had that in your life. I’m looking at our time, I can’t believe we’re at our 30 minutes already, Aarti. I know. But before I finish up with you, because this has been a really valuable chat to people, is there a tip you would like to give to our listeners that you wish you’d been able to know when you were back in the thick of it all? Aarti:Trust your instinct. You know, I… I wanted to keep my little one close to me in those early days, but a lot of information out there that suggested no, no, no, that’s not a good idea. But I think allowing yourself to trust your instincts, even if it’s your first, is probably the best thing that you can do for both of you. Carly:That is very valuable advice and I don’t think it can ever be said enough. And if you’re feeling like you… I know I felt at one stage with my first guy that maybe I didn’t have any instincts at all because it was such a confusing mix, at the end of the day the instincts are those things in your gut and your heart that… that tug and pull and hurt when you’re making a decision that doesn’t feel right. That’s where the instincts are. So, if you can tap into some of that you’re going to work out… work in a way that feels right for you and your family. So thank you so much for coming on the show Aarti. It’s been an absolute pleasure to hear your story. And thank you also for doing the volunteer work that you do with the Beyond Sleep Training Project, because it’s people like you who willingly come on into the group and walk people right through their journey that allows us to keep this work going and moving it forward the way that we have. So thank you Aarti. Support our volunteer work [DonationAmounts/4682fd85-b319-4631-ac5d-48fcfc3f2f62] Aarti:Oh, thank you so much for setting it up. It’s been an important part for so many people in their journey. So, thank you for being the one to be the inspiration for so many. Carly:Thanks Aarti. Carly: I really hope you enjoyed the podcast today the information we discussed was just that information only it is not specific advice if you take any action following something you've heard from our show today it is important to make sure you get professional advice about your unique situation before you proceed whether that advice is legal, financial, accounting, medical or any other advice. 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