Podcasts Lyndsey Hookway on her experience becoming a mother of two, her experience when her little one was diagnosed with cancer, and just letting go and trusting it will get better when it could Listen/ Watch links: Enjoying the show and you'd like even more? Become a Patron! SUMMARY- Lyndsey shares her experience the second time around, how much difference being effectively treated for Post Natal Anxiety and Depression made, and how different her two littles were. Lyndsey also shares her experience with her daughter being diagnosed with childhood cancer and how it lead her to just let go and trust things would get better when they could. Find Lyndsey Wondering where to start on your journey beyond sleep training? Download our free workbook 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 for a second episode is Lyndsey Hookway. Welcome back, Lyndsey. Lyndsey:It’s so nice to be back. I can’t believe how much we chatted on about these spirited babies last time. Carly:I think it’s because like you don’t actually find a kindred spirit every day. I think whenever I hear anyone talking about their little sparkler baby, and you described your little person so perfectly, it’s like your little antennas go up. It’s like a little alien finding another alien. Because as much as these babes are quite unique there’s also quite a few of us around and it’s nice. It’s hard to relate to the experiences of other people if you haven’t actually been through one of these babies I think. Lyndsey:Definitely. Definitely. And I think for people who do have these babies there’s such value in hearing kind of how that played out and, you know, that it really does end. You’re not going to feel like you’re going to die forever. Carly:And I think, because I know from my little fellow… actually before we get into that I should say for people listening along, if you haven’t listened to Lyndsey’s first episode you might like to just backtrack one episode and take that one in, because otherwise what we’re saying here is probably not going to make a whole lot of sense to you. But yeah, I think one of my biggest fears with my first guy was that his lack of sleep was going to be impacting on his development, and that was a lot of the pressure I put on myself, was I felt like if I couldn’t get him the sleep he needed his brain wasn’t going to develop the way that it needed to and I was actually really damaging him for his future life. Like he wasn’t going to have healthy sleep habits, he was not going to have the level of cognition he should, and that simply proved to be a whole layer of bullshit I can safely say in my experience. Would you agree? Lyndsey:Absolutely. Yeah, I… I talk about that a lot with the people that I train, and I try and make it accessible information for everybody because, you know, those research studies, there are research studies that exist that look at lack of sleep and later cognitive development and memory and school performance and stuff, but the studies are done on older children and this… this really grinds my gears because, you know, they’re done on older children, they are children who are genuinely sleep deprived. So, like just making this scenario up now, but let’s think about like a 7 year old going to bed at 11 and then waking up at 6 o’clock in the morning for example. That’s almost certainly not enough sleep for… for a little school aged child. But you can’t compare that with the normal sleep fragmentation of infancy. Sleep deprivation and sleep fragmentation are two completely different things and this is just mainstream sleep training bullshit, and people like to create a problem because then they can create a solution to that problem. But actually you can’t fix a problem if it’s just normal. So, it really, yeah, I can’t... I need to calm down and get off that soapbox because it really annoys me. Let’s focus on the things that we… that are problems and that, you know, we can do something about in a respectful way. Let’s not invent and create problems where there are none in the first place. Carly:Absolutely. It just increases your anxiety. It puts it through the absolute roof, or it did for me. Lyndsey:Yep. Carly:And I think the other part of it too was that it took me a long time to be able to separate my own sleep deprivation and experience of sleep from his. Lyndsey:Yes. Carly:Because the two were very different. Lyndsey:Yeah. Carly:You know. You know, obviously intricately linked. My sleep deprivation wasn’t his sleep deprivation. Lyndsey:Yeah. Carly:And I needed to stop making it… Lyndsey:Absolutely. Carly:… be that way. [5:00] Lyndsey:Yeah. I… I used to have exactly the same experience. So, I would wake up in the morning feeling just… just wrecked. It’s like… it’s like the worst hangover you’ve ever had in your life without any drink. Or it’s like, you know, being on a 24 hour flight where you’ve barely slept because somebody was punching the seat in front of you the whole way and your eyes feel like sandpaper. You know, the whole nine yards. It’s awful. But feeling like that in the morning and then looking at this, you know, bright, alert, chirpy, little child who’s… who’s good to go. And you’re like I can’t believe, you know, how can you be this wide awake? I am literally close to death here and you look like you want to go to the play park. I don’t understand. And I used to think, right, well you’ve had an awful night – because I’ve had an awful night – so therefore you must need to go to bed even earlier. And… and then what happens is you up the ante. You think, god, you need even longer of a nap today, or you need… you can’t tolerate as much time awake before you need that nap. So you put even more effort in and they’re really not tired, so it’s just going to be even more frustrating. So you get frustration on top of exhaustion on top of feelings of failure and, oh, it’s just… it is the pits. It’s the absolute pits. So I really sympathise. And let it go. Let it go. Carly:Absolutely. And… and rest assured that these very sparkly little people are usually going to turn out to be extremely bright, sparkly kids who actually relative… like they usually sleep quite well as they get bigger. I know my guy, he sleeps just fine. I’m not saying he needs to have these same number of hours as every other kids does, but the sleep he has is fantastic. Lyndsey:Yep. Carly:And I think it’s an important context to have in the conversation. I do know though, like you would also I’m sure, did you have a look to check and see if there was anything underlying her wakefulness? Because I know we did a lot of investigations. None of them came up with anything. Lyndsey:No, we didn’t actually. I just… I don’t know, I think that was partly just my extreme low mo… low mode? Low mood. I really was just blaming it all on me. I just assumed that it was me. It was my fault. It was something I’d done or not done. And I didn’t really go there. And I think the first we… the first time we really thought that there was something organic going on was when she really wasn’t taking to solids. So, she… we started solids around six months. I carried on breastfeeding. I breastfed her for three years in the end, but the solids were an absolute… I was about to swear. Better not. They were a disaster. Absolute disaster. So she didn’t really eat anything at all – I really mean that – until about 14 months. And the only reason she ate at 14 months was because I followed her around the room with a little bowl of pasta, just with some butter on it, and I literally got a little fork and I sort of put a piece of pasta in her mouth while she was busy playing and doing other things. She didn’t eat and she lost weight, you know, once she was no longer just exclusively breastfeeding. She thrived until six months and then when she started needing more than just milk her weight began to falter. We eventually got referred for some specialist speech and language therapy and she was diagnosed with avoidant restrictive food intake disorder, which is a really, really – I call it the big, bad brother of picky eating. It’s not just picky eating. They really do eat very, very few foods, and for her it was rooted in sensory stuff. I won’t bore you. But anyway, when we finally started getting her to eat, and she had her ferritin level checked at the time and it was about as low as it can possibly be. It was 4 which is dismal. So, she really was chronically anaemic. And when she started getting an iron supplement and she started getting some therapy to just increase the number of foods from like three safe foods to about 15, and started getting a bit more food variety, it did start improving at that point. So that was fun. Just to add… Carly:Absolutely. Lyndsey:… add to the chaos. So yeah, we did do a little bit of investigating, but it wasn’t until quite a lot further down the track. Carly:I think sometimes it takes that long though. Like I don’t think it’s all necessarily plain as day even if you did start investigating earlier. Like some of these things play out over time. Lyndsey:Definitely. Carly:Sometimes, yeah, [10:00] like you might discover an issue when they’re two or three that you can then track back to when they were tiny, but you wouldn’t have been able to identify it back then, fully anyway. So, it’s your… my take on that would be if you suspect there’s something do some investigations, but also it’s okay just to go with the kid you’ve got right now. Would you agree? Lyndsey:Yeah, totally. And I mean absolutely you can’t know you’ve got an extreme picky eater until it’s developmentally normal for them to start, you know… you know, to expect them to start enjoying food and playing with food and investigating food and eating some food at least. We all know some kids are really slow to get going with food, so I don’t think you could have… I don’t we could have made that call much before about a year anyway. But… but yeah, it’s not something we really explored in the early days. I just thought it was all my fault. Carly:Oh, I’m so glad you’re actually… No, absolutely not. And I do think that, like you said too, I think it’s a really common experience for people like us to have those feelings about ourselves, especially I think when they’re your first babies and when you’ve come from your previous life of pre-baby where you were probably pretty good at the things that you did. And then you’re landed with this babe who just does not fit with any of the moulds. So, doing it really tough. Now, I’m just wondering, like I know that you had a second baby, where does she fit in the picture with your family? Lyndsey:So. So, my little Filly. So, when Lizzie was about 22 months old she’d had… she’d had chicken pox and then she had hand foot and mouth, and they were about a month apart. It was, you know, and a spirit… Carly:Brutal. Lyndsey:A spirited baby with something that causes blisters in your mouth the size of a walnut is… and who doesn’t eat anyway, is super, properly not fun. So I remember, and I share this story now because it’s funny in retrospect. It wasn’t funny at the time. But I remember sitting on the fireside rug rocking and going, I think one’s a good number. I think one’s a good number. I just… We… we wanted four, so we started having our family quite young, not realising that a) it might be difficult to even get one, and b) we might need to reassess after the first one. So, we… we were brave enough to try for number two, and again she took a long time to… to arrive and be a reality as well. So she arrived when Lizzie was three and a half in the end, and a similarly awful pregnancy and horrible birth. All of that. But actually it was so very different. I was already being treated for depression. I didn’t stop my antidepressants throughout the pregnancy. And so I was less anxious through the pregnancy. I was… the… her birth experience was similarly grim but actually it was handled better, and so even though it was a worse birth than Lizzie it was handled with such kindness and compassion and delicacy that actually I didn’t find it as traumatic an experience, which is… often people say that, don’t they? It’s all about the communication and the way that you’re treated and all of that stuff. And Filly arrived. She was actually born in poor condition. Went to the neonatal intensive care unit. And we were reunited and, you know, it was all fine in the end. And she was just night and day to Lizzie. So, Lizzie would have been put down somewhere and she would have immediately started squawking, and it was like she was saying, excuse me, you idiots, you need to pick me up. Carly:Hello? Lyndsey:I needed feeding like ten minutes ago. Like, staff, get here now and sort it out. I’m going to fire you unless you live up to your job description, which you frankly are not doing right now. Filly, she went in this little bed and eventually I’d think, oh crikey, I’ve been so busy with Lizzie – ha ha – that my boobs now feel like boulders. I’d better go see if she needs a feed. Oh my gosh, it’s actually been like three hours. Wow, what’s going on with this child? Is she okay? And I’d go there and she’d be lying in her bed going… like gurgling. And I was like, what? This isn’t what babies are like. Babies are a pain in the bum. They… they just squawk and howl and shout and demand things of you. And it was like Filly was saying, it’s cool. [15:00] I mean I could do with a feed. I’m pretty hungry. But you know what? You go and… you go and fix dinner, you go and deal with Lizzie, have a shower, have a wee. You know, sort yourself out and I’m good. I’ll just hang out here and we’ll… we’ll hook up when… when it suits you. She was so different. And I didn’t love her more. I didn’t love her, you know, because she was that way. But she was just easier. I loved the parenting experience more. I didn’t love her more. And I tell both of my girls these stories now, and I say that I loved you both absolutely equally, but I loved you differently and I certainly found it easier with Filly. Although, you know, having two, as we know if you’ve got two kiddies, is a different ball game and you’ve got to juggle and, you know, they have to fit in a little bit. But she slept. She slept in the little baby carrier and she just hung out, and it was just a piece of cake. Until… until she got to about, I don’t know, probably eight months. This child ate. She would sit in that high chare and she packed it all away. She didn’t vomit once, unlike her sister. She was a proper easy baby. But something happened at around eight months and the sleep just went to pieces. So, Filly started sleeping through the night really early. It was weeks old, not months. She was probably, I don’t know, eight weeks old. Again exclusively breastfed baby. It’s nothing to do with milk. She just slept. And I thought the universe had kind of repaid my patience with my eldest. But it went to pieces around eight months and actually she then became a more tricky sleeper long term because that didn’t really improve until I night weaned her. So I eventually night weaned her at about two and a half and that’s, you know, that was actually relatively easy. It was pretty painful for a few days, but it was actually relatively quick and easy looking back. But then she, as a few people know, she was diagnosed with cancer when she was three and we were just like, ah fright. Never mind. We just… we’ll just let everything go. I don’t care. Let’s just survive, literally. And her sleep was then terrible for years after that because of chronic anaemia and pain and procedures and hospitalisation and all sorts of stuff. So, I have been… I’ve been sleeping well now for probably three years, but I can honestly say that I was chronically sleep-deprived for probably nine years. So no mean feat at all which, you know, I know some people think, you know, some people listening will be thinking, god, I can’t do that. Like, I actually can’t do that. And that’s okay because we’re all different and I’m a very low sleep need adult. So, you know, you don’t have to feel like this is some kind of competition of endurance or survival. It’s just… I’m just sharing it for solidarity, like that’s… Carly:And I think too it’s like if you’re listening along and you’re right at the very beginning of your journey you can also understand that like I’m sure you didn’t think you could do that either. It’s not necessarily… and you take it in the bites as it comes. It’s not like you’re imagining nine years of this kind of deprivation. Lyndsey:Yes. Exactly. Carly:You don’t need to. You can just take your nights as they come. And however, like that is an incredibly marathon journey that you’ve been on with so many hurdles amongst it. But you would never have known that path. Lyndsey:No. Carly:And it’s not like you… you set yourself up for nine years of sleep-deprivation. So, if you’re listening along, your journey will be your own, and just take it as it comes. I’m really curious, so… and you’d said I remember with Lizzie that eight months was a time when you hit rock bottom. So, when Filly’s sleep went belly up at eight months did that trigger you at all? Or was that like a…. you were able to disconnect it? Lyndsey:I think I just felt resignation. I was like, oh, here we go again. Just… But… But I think it was different second time round because I… by that point I was beginning to support quite a lot of people with sleep extensively, and I knew some of the things that I could do. And they weren’t, you know, they weren’t harsh things at all, but I didn’t have the spoons, I didn’t have the emotional reserves to do any of it. And you know, even really, really [20:00] gentle stuff like habit stacking, I just couldn’t be arsed actually. Personally, I just couldn’t be arsed. I thought, do you know what? I know with Lizzie it will eventually get better. It will. And I just, I don’t have any capacity. I had a husband who was working crazy hours. I didn’t have local family. And I thought, do you know, I’m just going to trust that this will eventually sort itself out. So you… there is never nothing you can do. Part of the reason I was sleep-deprived for so long was mainly because I just couldn’t be bothered to change anything. I knew that whatever I would have to do would require me to temporarily be even more tired than I was right now. And even though in the long term I probably would have slept better earlier I just couldn’t face it. So it’s kind of… Carly:And I think that’s a valid option really too, isn’t it? Like, that is knowing – like you, you still knew you had options if you wanted to… Lyndsey:Yeah. Carly:… or it felt right for you. And I think there’s power in that for you... Lyndsey:Yep. Carly:… as well. So you don’t feel backed into a corner. You actually still get to make that call. I was very similar with my second and third babies after the dramas of my first. I honestly just didn’t want to. Lyndsey:Yeah. Carly:I was quite happy to ride it out because it was much less taxing on me emotionally and I knew it would all work out in the end. So it’s okay to take that. It’s not like it’s necessarily the easy option, but it’s knowing your options and what feels… what you feel comfortable with in that time. Lyndsey:Totally. Carly:Awesome. Lyndsey:Yeah. Carly:And so you said you’d night weaned Filly at two and a half, and then she was diagnosed with cancer, and I’m not sure if you want to go into that experience too much with us today, but I wanted for people to listening along to know that if you are experiencing childhood illness with a breastfed babe, or even just any other childhood illnesses, you’ve got a really special group that I would love for you to let listeners know about. Lyndsey:Yeah. Yeah. Well, so this is… people mostly know me for sleep, but actually my first love is supporting breastfeeding, and particularly in the paediatric setting. So that’s my… that’s my PhD research, and I do have a free support group on Facebook called Breastfeeding the Brave. So, you’re very, very welcome to come along and join that. We’ve got just… just the most incredible, inspirational parents in that group, breastfeeding through transplant and open heart surgery and cancer and chronic illness and diabetes, cystic fibrosis, sickle cell. You name it. And these… these parents are so, so inspiring, and these children are beautiful and, yeah, it’s just… it’s a… it’s just a massive love of mine. So yeah, that’s… But it’s… it’s so bizarre. I have a book coming out next year that kind of tells the story of like that sort of parallel walk between being a paediatric nurse and… and also being the parent of a chronically and seriously ill child, and just how bizarre that whole experience was. So it’s… Carly:That’s pretty awesome. Lyndsey:Yeah, I’ve got some space for that one. Carly:Absolutely. And we’ll be able to update the show notes when that book’s out and live, but we’ll be sure to drop the Breastfeeding the Brave links below as well to make sure anyone who needs that kind of solidarity, because it’s a special kind of experience. I mean special not in necessarily the best one that people would ever be going through. But having people that you can relate to and whatnot through that must be an enormous source of support. So, thank you for establishing that for families as well. Lyndsey:Yes. Well, labour of love. Carly:Yeah. And I’m thinking actually it would be really great if we, another time, in a separate podcast episode, if you are up for it we’d love to hear a bit more about Filly’s story and your story through that journey as well, and how sleep looked while you had to go through the cancer treatment that she required to get herself well again. Lyndsey:Yeah. Carly:But we might save that… Lyndsey:Pleasure. Carly:We might save that for another episode. Lyndsey:That’s a whole podcast for sure. Carly:Absolutely. I’m looking at the time. Like, I’m not going to start that with you tonight. And I also handed wadded you up and that wouldn’t be very nice of me to do that to you. So, now because we are finishing up though, would you like to share how your girls are actually sleeping these days now? Lyndsey:So, these days they are – what are we? We’re 12 in about a week’s time and Filly’s eight and a half. They sleep great. They are both low sleep need children. [25:00] And… but they don’t need me at night. It’s, honestly it’s like some kind of magic wizardry, voodoo, answered a prayer, whatever you want to call it. It is the weirdest thing I… I say, ‘Night darlin’, love you.’ And the light goes off and they sort themselves out. Isn’t that amazing? Honestly, it’s so ridiculous to kind of, you know, elevate that to magic. But that’s what it feels like when you’ve had years of needing to sit with them or hold their hand or boob them or keep going back in or find lost teddies or… all of the stuff that you need to do as a parent. It’s just amazing. They come good eventually. Promise. Carly:They definitely do. And I think it’s kind of part of that journey too where it’s like that’s the sort of thing I imagine you would have thought would have come way earlier in your journey, but how sweet it is when you know that you’ve seen them out the other side of that journey to the point where that’s actually just where they’re at. You didn’t need to do anything in particular. They just reached that point in their development where they are happy with a goodnight and love you. How great is that? Lyndsey:It’s so cool. I mean, so the little one, Filly does, she listens to The Rabbit Who Wants To Fall Asleep by Carl-Johan Forssen Ehrlin, I think. I think I said that right. Carly:Something like that. Lyndsey:Yeah, something like that. Carly:You did well with the pronunciation I think, but I’m not an expert. Lyndsey:So she listens to the rabbit every night and loves the rabbit. Can’t sleep brilliantly unless she listens to the rabbit to… to, you know, play her out. But do you know what? That’s okay because, you know, Spotify is a wonderful thing and it’s on audible, so wherever we are it’s fine, we just crack out the rabbit. It plays for 20 minutes. She’s sparko. No drama. Lizzie… Lizzie is a proper teen. So, she sometimes goes to sleep after me. But do you what again? That’s okay. It’s alright for her to go to bed at 11 o’clock. She is a low sleep needs child, always has been, is usually top of the class so that brain development stuff really is a big bag of bullshit. She would sleep until probably 9 o’clock in the morning if she could because that’s just her teenage body clock kind of going all squirrely on us now. But it’s all fine. They sleep. They sleep pretty good and, yeah, I’m… honestly I haven’t forgotten though. I haven’t forgotten what it feels like to be wrecked and to feel like you’ve got sand in your eyes and to just think about sleep the way you think about, you know, something that you’re obsessed with. Like you know, you know when there’s nothing else that you can think about, you’re thinking all day long when will I be able to go to sleep? Can I go to bed early? Please nap, I really need you to nap so that I can just close my eyes for a minute. I’m done parenting. I just need to go to bed. And I… I remember what it’s like to feel that level of desperation and obsession about sleep. So, but honestly when you come out the other end and they sleep and they’re great and they’re fun and you no longer have to be obsessed with sleep all day long except if… if like me you happen to do it professionally, it’s just the best thing. It’s the best thing ever. Carly:I love it. It’s brilliant. Now I’m just looking at our time. So, we’re finishing up, and I’m just wondering would you have one last tip to round us out completely for our episodes with you, Lyndsey? Lyndsey:Oh. Put me on the spot. Well, I think I would end with however your little one is sleeping it is… it’s not about you. If there’s one thing I learned from my two little ones, as well as obviously thousands of others, but there’s nothing like your own personal experience, right? So, my little sample of two has definitely taught me that you can parent in the same way and you just have two completely different children. And I wish I’d known before I’d got out the other side of parenting Filly that truth, because I would have taken off that expectation and pressure on myself that it was up to me to make my child an amazing sleeper. It is not your responsibility to make your little one go to sleep. It is only your responsibility to provide them with unconditional love and responsiveness and your emotional scaffolding and your presence and safety and all of those good things that I know you’re doing because you’re listening to this podcast which is a pretty [30:00] self-selecting audience. So it is not your fault. If your child sleeps absolutely crappy it’s definitely not something you did, for sure. Carly:Beautiful. And that’s a great way to finish our episodes off. So thank you so much for you time, Lyndsey. Lyndsey:You’re so welcome. Carly:You’re an absolute star. Thank you so much for the work that you do in this space. It’s very needed. And anyone who is looking for extra information, we’ll be dropping all of Lyndsey’s links into our show notes again this episode, so make sure you check her out and follow Feed, Sleep, Bond on Facebook and Instagram as well. So thanks so much today, Lyndsey. Lyndsey:You’re welcome. Carly:It’s been amazing. Lyndsey:Lovely to talk to you, friend. Take care now. 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