Podcasts Andrea Andric on bed-sharing and musical beds, learning to go with the flow with her first, and her plans for her second babe Listen/ Watch links: Enjoying the show and you'd like even more? Become a Patron! SUMMARY- Andrea shares her experience as a first-time mum, bed-sharing and musical beds and how she learned to go with the flow. Andrea also speaks about the impact of Post Natal Anxiety, the support she received from family, and how she plans to welcome her second child to the family. 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:Welcome back to the Beyond Sleep Training podcast. I’m your host, Carly Grubb, and with me today is the wonderful Andrea Andric. Now Andrea is somebody who has been working with the Beyond Sleep Training Project group now for, I think it would be three years Andrea since you started volunteering for us? Andrea:Yeah. Probably in the vicinity of between three and four I think. Carly:My goodness me. And so Andrea is one of our beautiful volunteers. She has been supporting members in the group, but she’s also worked with us on our social media pages and helped get websites up, and done all sorts of wonderful things for the project, so we’re very grateful for her work. And I’m super excited to have her on as a guest on the show to share a little bit about the sleep journey for her family, and especially that we could actually get her, because she’s one busy lady, but she is currently just at the very beginning of maternity leave as she prepares to welcome her second baby. So welcome to the show Andrea. Andrea:Thank you so much. What a wonderful introduction. Carly:I’m just glad we finally got you on the show. Now tell us a little bit about your family, and how did you think you were going to handle sleep with your baby before you actually had your very first bub? Andrea:Yeah. Yeah, so I think that’s actually the thing. I didn’t even think about it. So, I think that was part of the kind of shock and trying to figure out as a new parent what’s going on, what’s normal. My personal experience, so my background is Eastern European and I think sleep training hasn’t quite got a hold on that part of the world yet. It is a little bit more now that, you know, there is the internet and all of that and people are kind of looking for resources. But I actually bedshared with my parents until… until I got my own room, and it was more circumstantial, just because we didn’t have a big house to live in and, you know, a lot of people in different parts of the world all kind of, all tend to be in one… in one space. But I think my mum also just is… really enjoyed it and is also like a really affectionate and caring person and loved the snuggles and… and stuff like that. So… so that was kind of my experience of what I thought would happen when I eventually had children. I did obviously, you know, as you know when you’re pregnant people are giving you advice, you read all these pamphlets, you’re trying to kind of read all these books. But to be perfectly honest with you, I think because it was my first I was so focused on the pregnancy, I was so focused on the labour, I really didn’t think that much about the breastfeeding and the sleep and everything that came after. So one of the things that I guess I just was seeking to find when my son was very young, like a newborn, I was like what is normal? You know, what is within the realms of how much should he be sleeping? Or where should he be sleeping? And I remember the first visit we had from the maternal health nurse, and she was like, ‘Oh, I just need to make sure that he’s got like a cot that he’s going to sleep in.’ And I was like, that’s random. Okay, cool. Like yes, we’ve got a safe sleep space. But I really just didn’t, you know, know anything about it. Normal infant sleep And so it was kind of a blessing in disguise though because I think I just went with the flow a little bit, but it wasn’t until we hit that… maybe that like three, four month mark that I was like I am so tired. I… I was just exhausted, you know? Because I just was trying to be as responsible as possible, but also like I was starting to think, oh my gosh, like is this… is this normal? Like is he waking too much? Is it… is it appropriate for this age? And I just had no idea. And then I was very lucky that a friend from my mum’s group was like, ‘Hey, you should check out this Facebook group, and it was the Beyond Sleep Training Project.. And you know, I’m the kind of person that like once I read [5:00] all the resources I was like, uh, okay cool. I get it now. You know? This is biologically appropriate, and then this will happen and this will happen and then maybe this will happen. You know. So… so that was kind of like the early days with my first. Carly:That’s like the perfect kind of beginning to me in that like even though you weren’t sure you were able to follow your gut to get through that initial phase, and then when the questions started creeping in you had this person who was able to point you in the direction of our way to give you some support around some knowledge that you needed just to be able to continue to get on with what you needed to be able to do with your baby. So to me that’s like an amazing start to life. So, tell us with your family set up and whatnot how were you actually managing sleep by day and night at this stage? Andrea:So, my son is four-and-a-half now. So at the… so in the very beginning he was, he had his like little bassinet kind of cot next to our bed, stayed in our room. And I think I was so like paranoid in a way about safe sleep that he did stay there until six months and then we sort of did… started bedsharing, and that was when things became so much easier for me because he was able to breastfeed easier and we could all get back to sleep a lot faster. Learn more about Safer Sleep At the moment I would say our set up is a bit of musical beds in that because we had my mum staying with us when he was first born he didn’t actually have his own space until… ooh, I think he was about ten months or a year, where I was like, right, okay, let me set up a room for him. And so we then kind of transitioned into a floor bed, which just made sense for us at the time, and it was mostly me putting him to sleep. Like feeding to sleep and then I’d either fall asleep and stay there or, you know, I’d go back to my room and we’d have a little bit of back and forth. In retrospect, you know, he’s actually just, you now, pretty good with sleep. Like I think because I just didn’t know what was appropriate I was freaking out about it, but now looking back on it I’m like, oh yeah, he actually had some decent stints there. And now it’s kind of like because he’s four-and-a-half and the second baby’s on the way we have been the last few months practising with him, you know, going to sleep. First it was dad putting him to sleep a few nights a week, and that kind of started when he weaned off breastfeeding at about two-and-a-half years old. He’s also very… he’s a very, like his temperament is very relaxed, so he has had sleepovers with his grandparents and been fine. But yeah, so he’s got his room, he’s got his space, his own bed. Sometimes it will be a case of, ‘Goodnight,’ give him a kiss, he’ll read his book a little bit and fall asleep. Other nights it will be me putting him to sleep or he’ll say, ‘Mum, can I sleep with you tonight?’ or ‘Dad, can I sleep with you tonight?’ Some nights he’ll start off in his bed and then halfway through the night or in the early morning he’ll come into bed with me or with us or, you know. So yeah, it’s a little bit like just people sleeping wherever they feel comfortable that night, which I think like I’m really glad about because… and it’s because his temperament, he’s very relaxed in that way. So, I’m really happy with that. Carly:Beautiful. I love hearing like the flexibility of it all too. It doesn’t need to be one way or another or hard and fast, this or that. You can actually just go with the flow on whatever is needed at that time, depending on… probably depends on how his day’s been and what kind of needs he’s got throughout the night as well, even at the age of four-and-a-half. So I love hearing about that. Can I just… I’ve just realised out of all the guests that we’ve had, I’ve had a few people mention floor beds, but I don’t think we’ve ever gone into what is a floor bed, why do people love using them, why are they an option that families might like to consider? Learn more about floor beds Andrea:Yeah. So for us I think it just kind of made sense. It was a little bit of a pragmatic decision, because like I said, we had the spare room, we had a double mattress and I was like, well, I can’t really put him on a bed at like ten months. I didn’t really want to continue using the cot. We actually ended up giving our cot away pretty early on to a friend who had a baby because I was like, I know that we’re going to be bedsharing. You know? So for me it was more a pragmatic decision of like if I have this double mattress and we… all we did to make the floor bed really was nothing fancy, we just had some wooden Ikea slats on the floor and then the mattress on top and that was it. And just, you know, made sure that the space was safe in his room that, you know, it… there was a bit of a gap between the walls. [10:00] It was in the centre of the room and followed all the safe sleep stuff around the firmness of the mattress and all that. Yeah, it just made sense for me to be able to be like, okay, well I can… I can comfortably bedshare with him in his space, in his room. And he’s a pretty active sleeper so he’ll, you know, horizontal sleeping and star shapes and all of that. So, I kind of thought, well, if he’s going to roll off and if he’s going to fall off it’s like that high off the floor and he’ll be fine versus, you know, if you were in a… in a cot or a tall bed. So that was really why we went the floor bed route, and now I think it’s been maybe about eight months, we’ve actually given him a bed frame. So it’s just like a proper double bed that he sleeps on and it works for us because, yeah, like I said, we’re often sleeping… one of us is often sleeping with him there. So I think the floor beds are a great option for people who… who want that kind of flexibility, but also they’re really easy to do. Like, all you really need is a mattress and what you’ve already got pretty much. Carly:Absolutely, and it doesn’t even have to be a double mattress. Double mattresses are great, especially if you’re, you know, planning on actually being in there. But I know that we’ve previously used even just a single mattress because then the adult can still lay down. Like I used to love it when they were into that second year and you could, you know, breastfeed to sleep and ninja roll out of there and there’s like no transfer, because my babies were not very transferrable people. Like they just, that movement was too much for them. But you know, boob to sleep, ninja roll out, perfect. And like you say… Andrea:Yeah. Carly:It’s like very minimal in terms of what you need to make the… make it work. So yeah, hopefully people listening along, if you haven’t considered a floor bed it can be a great transition option for your family. And like you said, eventually then you can transition into a bed with a frame as they get older if that’s what’s working for you. But yeah, floor beds all the way. Very handy tool, and I know even in our bedroom that that’s what we also went with for our… our bedsharing set up, in the main room as well. Andrea:Yeah. It worked really well for us when we were travelling a little bit as well. So, pre-global pandemic when my son was probably around that ten month, yeah, that ten month period, we did go to Turkey and to Serbia to visit our family, to introduce him to the extended family. And in Turkey actually it’s really the done thing, to have these like floor mattresses, especially for children in the room with parents. So that… that kind of made a lot of sense and it made it really easy. And absolutely, like you said, the ninja roll away is fantastic, especially when we had an earlier bedtime. We have a bit of a European bedtime now. It’s kind of quite late I think for most people. But when he… when he was going to bed at like, you know, between 7 and 8 pm I would be able to get out of there and… and as well, you know, he’s not very transferrable. I think I’ve only been able to transfer him once successfully from car to like bed. Carly:Did you go and give yourself a massive high five for when it actually happened? I used to do that if it ever worked. Andrea:No, because I was home by myself, because we’d been somewhere. My husband was travelling for work. We’d been somewhere, at a friend’s house, and we drove home quite late. It was about 9 pm and I got him out of the car successfully, put him into the bed and just like covered him, like didn’t even change him. But I was at home by myself. I couldn’t… couldn’t tell anyone. I was just like, yay! Carly:Do your own little happy dance. Andrea:Yeah. Carly:Yeah, I remember actually one thing there I remember my third little girl, she used to sometimes do the car to boob to bed transfer, and oh man, I felt like a rock star when I could pull that one off. But you had to be quick. She had to be unbuckled, like you had to have the boob ready. Straight on the boob, walking down the hall with her on the boob. Lay on the bed. Try not to unlatch her, and then you’d occasionally get the win. That was just like, yes! It was like, oh. I’m sure it’s like winning a race, not that I’ve ever won a race in my life, but it felt really good. Andrea:Yeah, for sure. Carly:So tell me, actually we haven’t talked about daytime. So with your first babe how did – I know obviously this would have changed a lot right, from newborn through to now - but how did daytimes and naps and sleep look for you guys? Andrea:So because we live in a townhouse, so we’ve got the bedrooms upstairs but we spend most of our time downstairs in the living… open plan living, in the very beginning I actually had a portacot set up downstairs and then he had his cot upstairs. So, depending [15:00] on what nap it was he’d sleep in either one of those spots with me in the room or near him. We did a lot of car naps at one point. I remember driving like forever. I remember a lot of pram naps, walking naps when he was younger. When he kind of consolidated his naps into like one or two a day it was a bit easier. He was a bit older by that time and so it was mostly like upstairs in his… in his floor bed that he had at that time. But yeah, I think the biggest kind of struggle I remember around the day naps was dropping from three to two naps was probably the hardest transition, because it started getting to this like awkward time where he was fighting that third nap but I was like, no, you still can’t make it to bedtime without. So, that’s where I think I did a lot of those car… car or pram naps where we… we tried to just get him a little bit of extra rest. One of the other things that I do, that was like quite, you know, drummed into me at the beginning was like, oh, you have to be in the same room for all naps, at least for the first six months. So, that was mainly kind of a thing that I was keeping in the back of my mind. But having that like little portacot set up downstairs just meant that we didn’t have to keep going up and down the stairs and it just meant that like I could, you know, cook dinner or read a book… read a book? Who was reading books? Do whatever chores I had to do and still keep an eye on him and be around him. And… and like I said, I think at the time I didn’t realise how… how like chill that was for a baby to be able to do that with like the TV on and like us talking and walking and, you know, the dog and now looking back on it I’m like, oh wow, he really… he was really fine and it was just my thing. I think one of the… one of the kind of things that happened right before I found the group was we did have one day where he just did not nap. Like he just did not want to nap. I could not for the life of me get him to have even a single nap. And he was very young. It was like three or four… he was three or four months old, and it was I tried everything. I tried all my tricks. You know, I’d taken him for the pram walk. He didn’t want to do that. I’d given him a bath. I’d, you know, all of the rocking and… actually yeah, that was another thing. He really enjoyed movement, so there was a lot of rocking. I think it got to the point where he was like a year old and I was like, oh gee, can’t even hold him anymore. Because he’s a big boy. But yeah, so we had that one day where he just wouldn’t nap, and then it rolled around to bedtime and he was like clearly like overtired and I was at my wit’s end because I was like I’d worked myself up on not being able to get him to sleep. I was calling my husband at work. Please come home from work. I don’t know what to do. You know. So, my husband was like, ‘Alright, I’m on my way home,’ and he sent his parents over and, you know, with the best of intentions I think that they were trying to be really helpful, but my husband’s father is a doctor, an emergency doctor, and despite I think the cultural upbringing of, you know, having babies quite close and in the safe space, I think he’d also had the kind of standard Western education around infant sleep. So they were just kind of like, oh, you know, go downstairs, have your dinner and we’ll put him to sleep. And I was like, okay, like what like magical thing are you going to do? But you know, I couldn’t figure out. But at that point I was just, I was exhausted. I was like, yep, just take him. And so, and then he was just crying and crying and crying and I was just like my anxiety was like rising and rising being downstairs thinking should I just go up? Should I not? Should I leave them? And then my husband came home and he was like, ‘Let me handle it.’ And he went upstairs and sort of managed to settle him and get him to sleep. Poor guy was probably so exhausted by this point it was like 7:30, 8 pm. And so that was like really the only experience I had with someone or… saying, you know, this is how you should, like you need to let them cry. You need to do this. You need to do that. And I actually didn’t get any sleep that night because I was like seriously googling like, is this healthy for kids? Because it just didn’t feel right to me. You know? And I was lucky in that I came up with I think there was like a Psychology Today article that I read first that I was like, you need to send this to your dad. Like he can’t be recommending this. And… and then eventually, like pretty much in the next couple of days found a group and such. But yeah, that was like an experience that I think… [20:00] sorry, I’ve kind of veered off the topic of the daytime nap question. But that was the experience that kind of changed things for me and kind of solidified how I wanted to do things as well. And… and then once I had… I was able to like read the resources on what’s biologically normal and understand more the development I was very much adamant from that point on that this was how we were going to do things, and my… my husband’s very much, you know, in support and all that. So… so that really kind of put us on the course of how we dealt with sleep. Carly:Beautiful. I love that, you know, there’s often a bit of a turning point for people, but I’m glad that yours was like that brief moment in time and it was all you needed to be able to solidify that track for you moving forward. Now I’d love to hear a little bit about what kind of preparations are you putting in to welcoming second baby this time round? What are you thinking is going to be the go for your family? Andrea:Well, the cot has made a return, but it’s with the option of side-carring to our bed. But I think I just want to see what she’s like. Because every kid is different, she’ll have her own temperament and her own preferences. She might not be the sort of baby who wants to bedshare. Wouldn’t that be wild. She… Carly:They do exist. Andrea:She might enjoy her own space. But for now we’ll… we’ll start off with the cot just like right next to our bed in our room, and see how we go. I think the main thing for me as kind of is probably now becoming a little bit thematic in this interview, is that I… my main learning has been to let go and go with the flow and… and really work on being more in tune with… with the baby, with the child, rather than having some kind of pre-planned or preconceived ideas of how I want things to be. So… so keeping our options open, out of necessity she’ll be in our room I think until we’re able to move into a bigger place, or there might be a point at which they’re sharing a room or, you know, at this point I think not much thought other than we’ll just see how we go. The only things I have planned for more this time around is more carrier time. With my son I really didn’t use the carrier much except for walks, because we had that space and that time to be on the couch and breastfeed and go for pram walks and things like that. But now that, you know, there’s a lot more to do with him as well in terms of kindy drop off and playing with him and whatnot, I think I’ll just be using the carrier a lot more for naps as well as breastfeeding. That’s it. Those are my options to sleep. Carly:I think that sounds like a very sensible set of plans, because it’s got so much flexibility once again in there, so that you’ve got room to get to know your new little love and… and work out what’s going to actually suit you all. And I love that, like this is the thing I guess, once you had second and third and however many babies after that, there’s all of the logistical considerations for your older babes as well as… as their emotional needs and whatnot that you need to consider for the family as well. And I’m curious about you though. What sorts of, like for your postpartum this time round, what sorts of things have you put in place to try and support you in your postpartum? Andrea:Yeah. So, you know, it’s a thing of beauty when you’ve been through it once that you’re like, okay, now I kind of have a bit of an idea what it might be like. So, my mum will be once again staying with us to help with the logistics of the household I suppose. And of course be grandma and, you know, spend time with… with my son and the newborn. I think for me, one thing that I really didn’t realise the first time around was that I actually had pretty, pretty bad postnatal anxiety. I think at the time I wrote it off as, oh, this is a normal amount of worry. And… and looking back on it I was like, oh, actually maybe not so much. Like, maybe not everybody thinks about what if I take my baby out for a walk in the pram and a tree branch falls on us? Maybe that’s not, you know? So, I think a lot of the work that I’ve been doing in the last couple of years as well has been more on my mental health, and that’s something that I… I can kind of keep an eye out on now when my anxiety levels get, you know, if they get too high what… what to do and have that support system in place that I think is really important. [25:00] I also now know a lot more about, you know like breastfeeding and all of the stuff. So I’m not… I think I’m just not going to spend so much time like googling random things and… and have more of a security within myself. So from like a practical point of view I guess, you know, having that family support system, and of course my husband as well as my mum and other family and friends. But from like a taking care of myself point of view, for me it’s mainly my mental health that I need to be aware of. And then I was planning ono like cooking some freezer meals and doing all of that jazz, but I probably won’t do it. No, I’ve thought. Carly:It might come across in the next few weeks to just see. That’s so great. I am pleased to hear you mention that too, because it’s sort of that… I guess that’s the beauty of getting to do it again, isn’t it? You’ve got the heads up. Like even… even though you know it’s going to be different again, you… it’s still not that same, fresh, completely new experience. Like your body has been postpartum before, so all of those feels aren’t going to be so raw this time around. They’re going to have that tinge of familiarity because it’s that second time. So I think it’s great that you can tap into the things that you could see from previously, take them forward to have a bit of a plan. And I’m so pleased you got some family support around you, because honestly postpartum without family support, and I know so many people during the pandemic have had to do it all alone. It’s never meant to have been that way. So to anyone listening along, like that was you and you found it brutal, that is fair enough. It was always meant to be the case that you were meant to be nurtured as well as your baby being nurtured, and so I’m so pleased to hear that coming out this side of the pandemic you’re going to have the nurturing that you need and deserve at this time, Andrea. Now I’m looking at the time and we’re nearly up to our 30 minutes already. To finish off the episode though, is there any tips or pearls of wisdom you’d like to share with our listeners that you wish you’d been able to hear back in the thick of it all? Andrea:I think for anyone who’s similar to me and maybe is like, you know, hyper independent and, you know, before you have your first child I think you are so used to being in control of your life. When you sleep, when you eat, what you want to do with your spare time. You know. That’s a bit adjustment for first time parents. I think being gentle with yourself and ask for help. That is my main piece of advice for all of my friends who have, you know, since had kids. And… and even with the ones that I can tell that they don’t necessarily feel comfortable asking for help, now knowing what I know I’ll just… I’ll just go and do it. You know? I’ll just be like, ‘Hey, dropping off some food to you. You know, you don’t need to entertain me or whatever. I’m just here. I’m just giving, you know, making your life a little bit easier.’ Asking for help really. I know it’s difficult, like obviously, and I sincerely hope we don’t have to go through another lockdown again because I can only imagine, like you said, how brutal that would be for new parents, new mums and dads. But asking for help I think. Asking for… finding those resources and… and at the end of the day, you know, some of the friend… friendships, I have to say, the real friendships that I’ve managed to form through the online… the beautiful online community that you’ve created, Carly, have seen me through a lot of some hard times. You know? And they’ve been such wonderful sources of support for me so, you know, sometimes it doesn’t have to be in person, face to face. You can always find those people. You can always find people whose values align with yours and they can provide that help. But I think the first step is just recognising that, like you said, you know, you can’t do it all yourself and you were never meant to, and I think we often forget that in a lot of aspects of our life, and but this is one where I think you can definitely ask. Carly:Absolutely, and there’s so many benefits to the people who get to do the helping as well. I think that’s the thing. Like sometimes I know I used to feel like I was going to burden someone else, but actually, I don’t know about you, but when I’m helping someone I actually feel good too. It actually, it’s a… it’s a boost to the person doing the helping, so to allow someone to be a part of that for you is a really special relationship to have with another human and not one to be missing out on just because you believed that you should have been doing this all on your own when you absolutely should not. It’s… we are meant to be social creatures, and at this vulnerable time in your life when you’re trying to bring… well you are, you’ve brought new life into the world, let the nurturers nurture you as well as you nurturing your baby. So, thank you so much for coming on Andrea. [30:00] It’s been an absolute pleasure to hear your story. Andrea:Thank you so much for inviting me. I absolutely love talking about this stuff so it’s been… it’s been fantastic. Thanks Carly. Carly:Awesome. And I get the feeling like in maybe a couple of season’s time when you’re through the other side of your journey with baby number two we’ll have to get you on for a… a rerun, and just see how things actually panned out, because who even knows at this point, but I hope everything goes really smoothly as you welcome your new little person. Andrea:Thank you so much. Looking forward to it. DOWNLOAD your free 'Beginning your journey beyond sleep training' workbook 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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