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SUMMARY- Join Carly and Nicole as they discuss re-partnering with a little one, and how to make sure that all members of your family are supported along the way. How Nicole set up a new business with a newborn, and what their family sleep set up looks like to support all members of the family getting their best rest.

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 another episode of the Beyond Sleep Training podcast. I’m your host, Carly Grubb, and this week we’re lucky to have Nicole Gorring back again with us. Nicole was on our last episode. If you haven’t already listened to that one you might want to flick back and just have a listen so that you are up to date with her story as we will be continuing on from that point today. So, where we left off, we’d just been talking about your older guy and how he has always been a pretty low sleep needs kind of guy, but he also did have some complicating factors in that he has a very busy brain, so finds it hard to shut off for sleep, but then he also had ENT and allergy issues were making his sleep quality not as great as it could be as well.

Nicole:
Yeah. Yeah. It took a long time to figure that out.

Carly:
When we were off air earlier from that episode we were talking about how I’ve actually had similar experience with my family as well and, like you say, it takes a while. It’s like the picture needs to build up sometimes before you realise it’s actually a thing.

Nicole:
Yeah. Yeah. You need enough… enough things that are making you go, ‘Oh, hang on.’

Carly:
And then it takes time to actually see, like, you know, get into specialists or, you know, then when you see the specialist, they’re looking for a particular pattern. So, it does seem to be a somewhat drawn-out affair.

Nicole:
Yeah.

Carly:
I’m not sure, I don’t know…

Nicole:
It’s a slow process.

Carly:
Yeah, it’s a real process. So, yeah, it’s interesting to know that we’ve… we’ve had a similar one as you guys. So, picking up on your story though, so the next part of your story would involve meeting your partner and then welcoming your second little boy?

Nicole:
Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. So, I guess for me the thing about choosing to re-partner was that I was… You know, by the time I got to the point where I was even willing to consider dating again, I was very clear in how… what my parenting values were and how I was going to parent, how I was parenting. So, that put me in a kind of privileged position of that I could look for somebody who was going to be on the same wavelength. And I see so many people in our group and just generally online, and they’re really struggling with their partners just being on a different… a different path to them in terms of what they think their parenting values are, and a lot of the time it’s stuff that they talked about before they had a kid and they thought they were on the same wavelength, and then it turns out they’re not. And I can see how that would have happened with my ex, who funnily enough now parents the same way that I do with his son. But that was a much later thing. Like I think I don’t know how much what I did influenced that, if any. But yeah, like his new wife’s in the Beyond Sleep Training Project Group too, and all the same groups that I’m in. We’re actually pretty much on the same page. But had we still been together when Callaghan was a baby I don’t know that that would have happened. I think we would have ended up on a very different path to where we both are now, just because of the conversations that we used to have about what we… how we planned to parent. I think, yeah, we both had these very different ideas to what reality ended up being. But, yeah, with being at, with, you know, re-partnering I was in the position where I could look for somebody who was going to have the same values. And yeah, that was… that was really important to me, and also really, I guess, you know, a privileged place to be in. But that would definitely be my best advice to all the single parents out there,

 

[5:00] is that when you’re starting to think about dating again don’t just think about attraction and romance and stuff like that. You aren’t just looking for somebody for you. You are looking for somebody for your kids as well, and you need to consider how that person parents, because if you don’t then you’ve got a very high likelihood of ending up with somebody who’s parenting very differently to you and then you, you know, you’ve got to decide what’s more important to you – the relationship or your kids – and it puts you in difficult places. So, yeah. But so, we were together two years before we had Theo, which both of us feel is very much a very short time to be with somebody before having kids, and we were both a little bit, you know, hesitant about that. But also, you know, late thirties now, so kind of ticking clock. And, you know, from my… from my previous relationship I guess I knew that being together a long period of time doesn’t necessarily mean things are going to work out any better anyway. You know, we were together for nine years. So, yeah, it doesn’t… the short amount of time hasn’t really been too much of a factor. Um… but, um, I think we’d been together long enough that it meant that both our older kids were very stable in how we were together as a family unit and whatever, and they were at a point where it was okay for them to bring a new baby in and it wasn’t too disruptive and, you know, throwing them out or anything like that. Yeah. So…

Carly:
And so, once babe came along had you… like, what kind of conversations had you had with your new partner in preparation for that fourth trimester that was coming at you for a second time?

Nicole:
Okay. So, there’s what I wanted my fourth trimester to be, and then there’s what my fourth trimester actually was, and that was entirely on me because I started a new business. So…

Carly:
Woah. Great timing, Nicole.

Nicole:
Yeah. Well, so I was doing... I was doing the government… it’s called the NEIS program, that it’s basically this program where they help you to, you know, help people start new businesses. And I had just finished the training for that, and just started on the program which gives you like a year of income support to help you launch your business, when I found out that I was pregnant. So, I was like, ‘Oh, I just kind of have to make this work now.’ So, and then yeah. So, it was very much different to what I anticipated. ‘Cause I’d always been like, okay, next baby I’m having a proper fourth trimester. You know, the forty days not really leaving the house, having people bring me food, getting, you know, looked after and pampered and stuff. And Drew was all onboard for that too, and he took four months… three months? Three months paternity leave? Ended up being about four months because it ran into Christmas holidays. So, but then, yeah, in reality I was actually working through three days a week, on my feet all day teaching kids. So, yes, it wasn’t what I anticipated.

Carly:
Wow. And so how did that go in terms of both your recovery and getting to know your babe? How did… how did that look in reality?

Nicole:
Yeah, okay. So, he actually was premi. He was born at 34-weeks. So, it ended up in a way being better that he was premi. Like, he wasn’t premi enough to really need to be in NICU for a long time or anything, he was on special care for 10-days, because it meant that we’d had that Christmas holiday period, you know, 6-weeks or so to get to know him and recovery and whatever before I had to go back to work. Whereas he was actually due the week school started. So, yeah.

Carly:
[10:00] Wow. That sounds almost like it was a bit lucky in a way.

Nicole:
Yeah, in a way. And I mean my plan had been, I had hired somebody to be, you know, to cover for me. That I was planning on not teaching that whole first term. But it ended up being that we found that with the number of kids that we had in the space that we had that doesn’t have fences and stuff, that we needed three people for that ratio, and so I ended up working a lot more than I anticipated. But, yeah, wearing bub all day…

Carly:
I was going to say, where was babe? What did… how did that look?

Nicole:
Yeah. So, I mean because Drew was on parental leave he came with me as well. And my mum works for me, so she was staying over at that point in time. She would stay over so that she’d be here to help with dinner and getting the kids ready and out the door in the morning as well. And yeah, just wore… wore him most of the day and then, you know, trading back and forth with Drew when he wasn’t hungry, and he would be there with me at work too. So, yeah. It went alright. It wasn’t as taxing as I thought it was going to be, but I couldn’t have done it without Drew being on parental leave, and my mum. So, yeah.

Carly:
So, it sounds like a real team effort.

Nicole:
Yeah. It was definitely a team effort. And the kids have always been very much, ‘Oh my god, can we hold the baby? Can we hold the baby? Can we hold the baby?’ all the time. So… and the parents, the other parents. So, there was always plenty of people to pass around a baby to when he was still happy to just go to anyone. So…

Carly:
So, it was a bit of a village for your… for you and your baby in a way.

Nicole:
Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. And it still is. Like, it’s good ‘cause he, you know, he has all these older kids who he gets to play with. You know? And they play with him and they… they do cute things like try to make him… One day this group of like 8-year-old boys tried to make him a playpen. It was the most unsafe thing ever, but it was so cute how they tried to go about doing it, trying to make this safe space for him with all of these pillows and stuff. He was only like 5-months at the time so he couldn’t, you know, hold his head up and sit properly yet. But they thought they were doing the right thing by setting up this safe area for him.

Carly:
That’s so sweet.

Nicole:
Yeah. So, lots of things like that. And then my… so, my other teacher, she has a baby who’s about a year older than Theo, and she often comes to work as well. So, it was both of us with our babies in the carriers and just, yeah.

Carly:
And so how did sleep look for the family then? So, by day babe was in the carrier for most sleeps?

Nicole:
Yes. Yeah.

Carly:
And then what would… what would… what was going on in the night? Like, what kind of sleep things were going on with this babe?

Nicole:
So, he is so much more chill with sleep than Callaghan. So much easier to get to sleep. Even now, like he has been struggling with trying to drop from two naps to one nap for a few months now, and just doesn’t want to nap. You know, he’s got a bit of FOMO, doesn’t want to miss out on what’s going on. But even that on its worst days is like Callaghan on a good day. So, it’s been pretty good. The first few months I was like really reluctant to talk about how good his sleep was because I didn’t want to jinx it. I was like, I just… I was just waiting for 4-month sleep regression to kick in and being like, oh, everything’s going to go to shit then. But it didn’t, so… I mean he’s had… he’s had little bits of regression, but mostly he’s pretty unicorny. So…

Carly:
What’s a unicorn to you though? Because we like, you know, because we’re used to talking about normal infant sleep and stuff like that, what would you call a unicorn? What’s his night look like on a normal kind of night for him?

Nicole:
So, even as quite a small baby he would wake up generally 3 times through the night. So, I was like, yeah, that’s pretty awesome. And by… by 3-months definitely we were side-lying sleeping for all of that, and so I didn’t have to get up at all. And yeah, he would… he would go to sleep fairly easily, and then he would sleep for 4 or so hours and then wake up. [15:00]

Carly:
[15:00] And so just a quick… quick bit of boob and back to sleep generally for him?

Nicole:
Yeah. Yeah.

Carly:
And so, as far as you feeling rested…

Nicole:
Mm.

Carly:
By and large felt fantastic, fine…?

Nicole:
Yeah.

Carly:
Or, you know, yeah?

Nicole:
By 3-months I was fine. Those first… first few weeks was difficult, just in terms of how sleep-deprived you were. You know, it had been a long time since I’d had a newborn. So, just remembering how much you were waking up. But again, in having had him being in NICU for 10-days, that meant that for those first 10-days I had a full night’s sleep once I managed to get to sleep. So, I had that, you know, a bit of a reserve built up there that then managed to get me through the next few, you know, the next few weeks of… until we worked out the side-lying sleeping and everything and… yeah.

Carly:
That can be a bit of a process too. Did you have to try a couple of techniques? Or was it only once he got a bit older and stronger that you guys could get in position? Or how did you guys figure it out?

Nicole:
Yeah, it was… it was mostly just being older and stronger. Yeah, because he was premi he was suckled and actually wasn’t great to begin with. We were on nipple shields for a few weeks, and one… he had a tongue-tie. He had a really obvious tongue-tie. Like, as soon as he was born you could see it, because it was fused right at the very front. So, once that was fixed and once he was just a bit older, yeah, then side-lying sleeping wasn’t too bad.

Carly:
And so, in the early days, being prem bub as well, for a safer sleep perspective I think – was it this episode? Or it might have been the earlier, the first episode with you, you mentioned your set-up. You had a sidecar so that you could have him in his own space?

Nicole:
Yep. So, we have a sidecar. So, we had a sidecar bassinet to begin with. Because he was prem Drew hadn’t actually finished setting, you know, fixing our cot. So, he’d originally planned to just build a sidecar from scratch, and then ended up buying a cot second-hand and converting it to a sidecar. But we had a bassinet to begin with that was lent to us because he was early, so we weren’t ready yet. And, but that was a sidecar bassinet. And then, yeah. So, baby on one side, then me, then Drew, then Callaghan on the other side. Yeah.

Carly:
And has… so… And so, from that set-up, so it was only from bassinet onto the cot, that… that was the only change you’ve had in your set-up as your people have grown? Or have you had any more…?

Nicole:
Yeah.

Carly:
Yep.

Nicole:
Yeah. No, that’s the only real change that we’ve had. Although, like we have a… we have another bed in a different room as well, and so sometimes we sleep in there, depending on what’s going on and who’s here, and how restless Callaghan’s being, and how much of the bed he’s taking up, and stuff like that. But I prefer to sleep in here with the sidecar, just so that there’s more space that he could roll over. Once he started rolling and moving around it does… So, the first… the first few months he didn’t move very much in his sleep, but now he moves around a lot, so it’s good to have the sidecar that he can just go into, spread out as he needs to.

Carly:
I agree. And so, this time around you weren’t able to really nap during the day if you were working, but did you feel like you needed to be able to have those daytime naps as often with this baby, or…?

Nicole:
No. No, I didn’t, because I was getting to sleep a lot earlier. And just, you know, right from the beginning – co-sleeping right from the beginning. I mean I still had naps with him on days when I wasn’t working. So, yeah. I still caught up on sleep then. But I coped a lot better with the 3-days of no naps and working all day than I thought I might. I was expecting that to be pretty, pretty trash and things, but it wasn’t as bad as I thought. So…

Carly:
And you said here earlier as well that you’re actually a bit of a night owl yourself, but then I just heard you mention that you now go to sleep a bit earlier. Have you had to make that adjustment to suit being able to get enough sleep with little ones?

Nicole:
Okay. When I say earlier, I’m still talking probably 9. But yeah, I did have to kind of [20:00] stop myself from staying up late doing things, although it hasn’t always been consistent. I think I’ve just learnt to live on less sleep as a parent than what I used to because, yeah, like there… the other thing too though is that when you’re running a business it’s not just the actual hands-on, you know, customer-facing time. It’s also all of the… the back-end stuff. And most of that ends up being done at 10, 11 o’clock at night when the kids are asleep and that’s the only time that we can actually talk to each other and get stuff done. So yeah, that has been a bit of a struggle, just trying to find the… the balance there between how many days we can manage to do that for, and before things start to be burning out. Drew does a lot of it for me, so… because he’s got lower sleep needs than me generally, and he often ends up being the one up till 11 at, you know, one at night doing… doing bookwork stuff, and then sleeps in the other bed so that he gets a good night’s sleep for the hours that he is asleep.

Carly:
See, that’s another… so, that’s another strategy you guys have up your sleeve. If it’s like, if you need a, yeah, you can actually separate out to make sure that person gets a good night as well.

Nicole:
Yeah.

Carly:
it’s a great tip. You hear a lot of people doing that, and I think it’s something that’s kind of… also, apart from, you know, the family bed being more normalised, it’s also that destigmatising the separation of sleeping in separate beds sometimes with the adults…

Nicole:
Yeah. Yeah.

Carly:
…actually being the best way to get everybody the rest they need.

Nicole:
Yeah. So, I was… I was actually talking to a friend the other day, and she was saying about how she… So, she’s got a 6-month-old now that’s her fourth, and her eldest is the same age as Callaghan. And she was saying that when the eldest as a baby her husband was working these rolling night shifts. So, he was doing slightly different hours every day.

Carly:
Oh, yuck.

Nicole:
And it was, yeah. It was just really not conducive to trying to get sleep with a newborn and whatever. And so, they had separated into sleeping in different rooms right from as soon as she was born, if not before, because he was doing this… this night shift thing and it was the way that they got the most sleep. And then now they’re looking at moving and they’re, you know, when looking at moving they’re looking at different houses with different room set-ups and stuff. So, at the moment she’s got one of those like, you know… you know, that picture with the IKEA beds and the… the… the big family bed with the bunk at the top and…

Carly:
Oh yeah, with the bunks. Yep, yep.

Nicole:
Yeah, the bunks and stuff. She’s got a set-up a bit like that with her and the girls. And then hubby’s in a different room. And… but in looking at different houses they’ve been like, ‘Oh, we might have to go back to sharing a room.’ They’re both not keen on that because they get so much better sleep without sharing the room. So, yeah. But their relationship is great. So, and they just had a fourth baby, so obviously sex is still happening.

Carly:
Well, this is the thing. It’s like people need to be a bit creative about how they think people actually, you know, make babies. Because I know, like my husband and I, when we had, you know, the two boys close together, there was a time when… when things were getting tough, where we were both getting so tired, we were not good for each other in terms of like he couldn’t really give me the help I needed to be able to get through the challenges as well. And so, on those occasions it’d be like, ‘Right, you’re sleeping in the spare room for the next few nights.’

Nicole:
Yep.

Carly:
‘And then you’re on in the morning, mate. Like…’

Nicole:
Yep.

Carly:
‘You get some sleep. They’re all yours in the morning.’ And then we would find that we’d actually then have a lot more time for each other in terms of relationship, because we actually got some sleep.

Nicole:
Exactly, yeah.

Carly:
So, I don’t… I don’t really know what people think’s going on in beds, like when you’re all tired. But I know at our house there was nothing but crankiness, certainly no…

Nicole:
Yeah.

Carly:
No action was to be had; I can tell you.

Nicole:
Yes.

Carly:
So, sometimes separating out, actually it’s the best way to support the relationship.

Nicole:
Yeah. So, we will often do, like kind of swapping throughout the night a little bit. Like, if I’m feeling touched out or just cranky ‘cause Callaghan wouldn’t get to sleep and it, you know, triggers me a bit still. A lot. A lot still.

Carly:
Lots.

Nicole:
So, then once he’s finally asleep I will go in and sleep in the other room for a couple of hours, and [25:00] Drew will sleep with the boys. And then when Theo wakes up for a feed then we’ll swap and…

Carly:
Tag out.

Nicole:
Yeah. That works really well for us because then we both get, you know, a decent chunk of sleep throughout each night.

Carly:
And you get some touch-free time, because…

Nicole:
Yeah.

Carly:
…being touched out, that’s a massive trigger for lots of people, and that’s actually… that’s a really good tip. You know? I don’t think I ever did that enough. I tend to, all my touched-out things I tried to figure out daytime stuff where I could have people not touching me. But that’s a really good tip. I like that one.

Nicole:
Yeah. I know, it’s good. It’s good to be able to just have a few hours where you can take up the whole bed and you don’t have to worry about anybody touching you.

Carly:
Yeah. Starfish in the middle.

Nicole:
Yeah.

Carly:
That’s a really good idea.

Nicole:
People rolling on top of you. Because Callaghan will like start on the edge of the bed and then gradually make his way on top of you.

Carly:
Oh, yeah.

Nicole:
And further and further across the bed. So, yeah. So, it’s good to have that… that ability just to be like nobody’s touching me for a few hours.

Carly:
Ooh, I love it. It’s like protected time. And I’m actually just looking at the time, and we’re actually about to round out this episode. But I will check, because that’s an absolutely cracking tip, we could use that as tip of the week. But I’m wondering, do you have any other tips that you’d like to give to people who are listening along?

Nicole:
No, can’t think of any.

Carly:
I reckon that that’s probably, actually not being scared to use that.

Nicole:
Yeah, yeah.

Carly:
If you have that space, absolutely. Even a mattress in the loungeroom.

Nicole:
Exactly. Yeah.

Carly:
Like, if that’s, you know, if you don’t have a spare room, getting another space would be… it’s a great way to be able to break it up, especially if you are feeling irritable and touched out. Or one of you just really, like you need to have someone who can be the game face sometimes when times are tough.

Nicole:
Yes. Yeah.

Carly:
So, making sure that you can get the sleep. And I know some people talk about, when I spoke to Dr Tracy Cassels the other day, she was saying that her husband sleeps in another room because of his snoring.

Nicole:
Well, that’s the thing I was going to say before, is that with my ex for, you know, most of a year. Like, he didn’t used to snore all the time. He was a bit like Callaghan, only used to snore when he was sick. And then he’d have some times…

Carly:
Seasonal.

Nicole:
Yeah, and then at some point in time he just kept snoring, even when he wasn’t sick. So, for like the better part of a year I mostly slept in another room, because I couldn’t handle the snoring. So…

Carly:
Well, that’s… it would be a total dealbreaker for me. Like, Tracy was saying that she hadn’t… they hadn’t slept separately until they realised it was disrupting the babies. And she was just, ‘Look, mate, I can’t do this.’ And she said, but once he was gone she realised how much better she was sleeping as well and hadn’t even necessarily realised how much it had been impacting on her sleep quality also.

Nicole:
Yeah. Yeah.

Carly:
So, yep. And obviously like talking of snoring again like we did in the last episode, it is a red flag people, even in adults. So, if this is you or your partner, seeing an ENT about those snoring issues would be a great first… first point to do some investigations.

Nicole:
Yep, get it checked out.

Carly:
Yep, definitely, because it’s… it’s not good for anybody’s brain, whether it’s a baby right through to adults, to be snoring in the night.

Nicole:
Yeah.

Carly:
Anyway, I’ll… well, I’m going to say thank you so much for coming on, Nicole.

Nicole:
You’re very welcome.

Carly:
It’s been wonderful hearing your story. Especially I loved – I loved hearing about how going from a solo parent to meeting a new partner you were able to actually take control of that side of choosing a new partner. It’s a pretty…

Nicole:
Yeah.

Carly:
It’s a really thoughtful thing, because I know… I know for me and my partner it’s been a huge adjustment, because for all the ideas in the world we had before we had kids – and all the discussion, we talked it through.

Nicole:
Yep.

Carly:
But did we have any clue what it was like to actually have children? No. No, we did not.

Nicole:
No. Yeah.

Carly:
So, that was… that was really great to hear, and I’m sure there will be other solo parents listening along who think that that’s a really helpful idea to keep in mind if they’re actually looking at getting back onto the dating scene. So, thank you very much.

Nicole:
You’re welcome.

Carly:
And thank you for all your incredible volunteering work you do for the Beyond Sleep Training Project.

Nicole:
Very welcome for that too.

Carly:
Yeah, and if anyone’s listening along and you’re not already a part of the group, come and join us. It’s free. It’s peer support. And if you don’t have any people around you who are imagining life without sleep training in your real life, then we can help you out with that. We’d love to have you. Alright, so thank you so much, Nicole.

Nicole:
You’re welcome.

Carly:
And I’m looking… looking forward to seeing your work in the group. Thank you. Bye.

Nicole:
Sure. Bye.

Carly Grubb:

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. Please reach out to me if you do have any questions or if there's a topic you'd really like us to be covering and if you know somebody who'd really benefit from listening to our podcast please be sure to pass our name along also check out our free peer support group the beyond sleep training project and our wonderful website www.littlesparklers.org. If you'd like even more from the show you can join us as a patron on Patreon and you can find a link for that in our show notes if listening is not really your jam we also make sure we put full episode transcripts on our little sparklers website for you to also enjoy and fully captioned YouTube videos as well on our Little Sparklers channel so thanks again for listening today we really enjoy bringing this podcast to you. 

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