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SUMMARY- Tammy shares her story of finding sleep for her family through chilled out babies, and her low sleep needs baby. She discusses parenting through a break up, and finding a new partner, how she navigated the pressure from family, and how she was able to turn things around within her support network.

Full Episode Transcript:

Carly Grubb (00:02):

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 Grubb:

Welcome to the Beyond Sleep Training Podcast. I'm your host, Carly Grubb and this week, I am welcoming our guest Tammy Heuych, who is one of our fabulous admins over on the Beyond Sleep Training Project. But Tammy and I actually go way back, we went to high school together, which is amazing, and we actually had pretty well lost contact over the years. But we reunited in Thailand for a friend's wedding. It was so cool to see your beautiful face, and big shout out to Teash if she’s  listening, it was your wedding that brought us back together, which was just wonderful. At the time, when I saw you again, you had two of your little boys. But since that time, you've also welcomed a third baby.  

 

Tammy Heuych:

Yes. 

 

Carly Grubb:

And I'm really keen to hear your story about moving beyond sleep training for your little family, and I'm happy for you to share as much or as little as you'd like with us today, but I'll let you take the ropes. Would you like to add anything to your introduction?

 

Tammy Heuych:

No, I think you've pretty much nailed it. Definitely Teash’s  wedding in Thailand was a big thing, because I remember sitting at the table with you and your two little men and Teash strategically placed us so, I was on one side of our little, little men. So, you and your husband could go and have dinner and have a dance and because she knew that I'd sort of look after them. And we had lots of chats that night and I think one of the things that sort of stuck with me was we did talk about becoming parents and having two little men, because that's who you had at that time. Sylvia's around the same age as my little Louis. So just the conversation we had that night and how we both identified that we had a very similar approach to parenting and very similar approach to sleeping. I think that was another point of reconnection, despite, you know, having been so long since we talked. So yeah, and it's really nice reconnecting with you and reconnecting with your sister as well after school; let's not talk about how long that was. 

 

So, you hit the nail on the head. So, I've got three boys, nine, five, and two. It definitely keeps me busy. Currently, I am a single parent. Prior to my number three being born, I had been in a same sex relationship for 15 years, so, my parenting journey has been with another woman and recently, so I can talk a bit about it later, but certainly interesting re-entering the dating scene, having three kids and being a single parent and my approach to sleep, and how I sleep with my kids, has certainly been a consideration for me in re-entering the dating scene. And now I've got a wonderful partner who has a just turned  six-year-old daughter. 

 

So, I think going through that journey for me as well, there's been a few different elements to my journey, because when I went back on the dating scene, it became quite important to find someone who had the same parenting beliefs as me and the same sleep beliefs as me, because it's quite important.

 

But starting my journey with Xavier, who's nine, turning 10 in July, which just blows my mind. I was super fortunate with him. My early struggle with him was around breastfeeding. So, something I learned, he was a very big boy, he was 10 pound 2… well cooked. He wasn't even quite a week over, but he was quite a big boy, and there was a lot of concern around him not gaining the right amount of weight. And this was sort of coming from other nurses and that sort of thing when I left and I was doing my midwifery checks and going out and going to the health centres. And I remember going to a private health centre when Xavier was three weeks old. And she put a lot of fear and anxiety into me around him not getting enough food, she was telling me that I should be formula feeding him, and putting quite a bit of pressure on me around… that I wasn't supplying my child with the right amount, that I wasn't breastfeeding him properly. And I remember, I was meant to go back. I went back for a four-week check. So, I was going every week to a private clinic, because you know, you don't know what you don't know, with your first bub. And I went away from that fourth visit where she told me that I need to start supplementing him and formula feeding him that he wasn't growing enough. And she measured his weight and said he wasn't growing enough.

 

And I remember how distraught I was driving away feeling that I now had to formula feed my bub which was completely against what I wanted to do…what I intended to do. And my partner at the time, she sort of turned to me and said, “Well, do you feel it's right?” And I said no. And she goes, “Well, let's go get another opinion.” This is Saturday. It was a Saturday. So, we pulled into a public clinic. And the lady there was absolutely fabulous. So, Queensland Health, pulled over to a public clinic. She measured his weight, but then she also measured his length and his head circumference. And she said to me, “Is he weeing regularly? Is he doing his poos?” “Yeah-yeah-yeah.” And she goes, “You know, he has grown- his length has grown about two and a half centimetres. And his head circumference has grown by two centimetres. So, it doesn't matter that he's not putting on weight. He's actually grown quite a bit in this period of time.” And it was her looking at me and saying to me, “Hon, trust your gut, you've got this, you know, you don't …you're doing the right thing. It's okay.” For me, that was a turning point. Because she reassured me that, you know, he had wet nappies, and plenty of wet nappies, he had plenty of poo nappies, and just trusting my gut, that I could breastfeed, and she helped support me, and she actually took the time to show me what a good position was, she was the first person to show me that it was safe to co sleep, and got me on the bed and showed me a side lying position, and how to put my arm and that sort of stuff. So, for me, just finding out that I could do that, like actually lie down with my baby in bed, and fall asleep with him and do it safely and him breastfeed, that was… oh my gosh, blew my mind. And he was a really good sleeper. 

 

So, I was quite happy in the first fourth trimester with him. Those first few weeks, first three months, he was a really good sleeper, and then we hit a leap, and it all changed. I went, “Oh, what is this?” And went back to the same lady. And she was so great in just supporting me and coaching me through “Yes perfectly normal. This is what bubs’ do. They're growing, they're like us, but they grow, you know, so much quicker, in such a short space of time. What our expectation is, is very different to how they work”. So, it was just about all focused around, you know, this is all natural. It's all meant to happen this way. And, again, she said to me, “Trust your gut, does it feel wrong??” And I'm like, “Well, no, it doesn't.” And she goes, “Have you been sleeping with him?” I’m like, “Yeah, because it's giving me some sleep, especially with this leap”. So just getting that support and I can still remember how traumatic it felt, driving, thinking I had to formula feed that I was I was depriving my child and just finding a person, completely randomly, who supported me and showed me the right way to breastfeed and understanding, especially as a first-time parent, it is so easy not to get it right. Like it's not something that a baby knows how to do straightaway and that you as a parent know how to do. It does take a bit of time, and it doesn't come naturally and even when you've had your second. I remember when I had my second, I was breastfeeding him, and she’s like “Oh, no hon, you're used to breastfeeding a toddler, that's not how you deal with a newborn.”

 

Carly Grubb:

They are all floppy again.

 

Tammy Heuych:

I know! And you forget the position. 

 

Carly Grubb:

Yeah. 

 

Tammy Heuych:

I fed Xavier until he was two. So, there's a four-year gap between Xavier and Ashton. So, my memory is hard coded into this toddler that’s, you know, flopping themselves around you and moving and hanging upside down and, and then you've got this little baby, that just sort of lies there-

 

Carly Grubb:

Squishy.

 

Tammy Heuych:

Yes, squishy. And so, it's, you know, yes, you know, a little bit more as a second time parent, I think, as a first-time parent getting told, “trust your gut”, and “does it feel right?”, and getting rid of all the noise at all the advice that you get, for me, was just a cornerstone. And I think about if I had not have met that lady and walked away from that clinic and not got a second opinion, I may not have co slept, or I might have done it really unsafely, because I can remember in those first four weeks, sitting up and holding him with pillows behind my back and falling asleep that way. And now, knowing what I know, how unsafe that is. So, feeling so incredibly lucky to stumble across someone who just had common sense, and wanted to support me, and, you know, did more than just weighing a baby, and actually could see that he had grown. 

 

So, with Xavier, I think the leaps were quite dramatic for him, because he was quite a good sleeper in between the leap periods, and then I think the saviour for me was definitely finding out how to co sleep safely. However, he loved the cot. So, when he was going through those non leap periods, so there's a couple of weeks in between where he was relatively settled, I could transfer him in the cot in my room, and he would be fine. I breastfed him until he was two. We co slept until he was two and a half. My partner was supportive of it. However, I think certainly the bit that's been challenging for me, upon reflection, and certainly noticeable. It was a bit easier having Louis by myself because my partner didn't do much to support me. So, certainly, from a primary parent or primary caregiver perspective, it's really important for that secondary caregiver to offer support. And at night-time being able to, you know, sometimes act as triage, or being able to take bub in the morning when they've got that little wakeful period, and just doing that supporting bit. Because I think that would have made my journey with my first a little bit different as far as feeling more supported and not feeling so alone in how I was parenting. So, yeah... 

 

Carly Grubb:

What did day sleep looks like for you guys? Was he also a pretty relaxed day sleeper?

 

Tammy Heuych:

Yeah, he was a great day sleeper. Again, he would go into the cot, I could transfer into the cot. So, Xavier definitely lulled me into a false sense of security when it came to babies, and how they work. And then Ashton came along, and Ashton was my crazy baby from the get go. So, every pregnancy symptom…Xavier’s pregnancy was relatively uneventful, so, you know, I got gestational diabetes, diagnosed with gestational diabetes at 28 weeks, but that was it, well that and a little bit of sciatica. With Ashton… everything, you know, pains and bloating and vomiting and nausea and all-day nausea. I found out I was pregnant when I was in hospital. So, I guess, being gay, it doesn't happen by accident. I suspected that I could be pregnant because we had started trying again, but I was just getting severe abdomen pain, and so, when I told the hospital, because it was really crippling and told the hospital “Look, you know, I might be pregnant” it was a bit too early to tell because it hadn't even been the two-week wait yet.

 

Carly Grubb:

Wow. And you're already getting symptoms. 

 

Tammy Heuych:

Yeah, yeah. 

 

Carly Grubb:

Rough.

 

Tammy Heuych:

Yeah, he really roughed me up, and it wasn't even the first three months that the pain and nausea lasted for. And he was just the most active baby. The first time I felt him I was 12 weeks pregnant, and it was just…mind-blown, completely different pregnancy, and then when I found that he was a boy as well, I was like, “Oh my gosh”. So certainly, you know, when they say, “oh boy pregnancies are like this” and “girl pregnancy like this”, oh no, I've had the whole spectrum, doesn’t work like that.

 

Carly Grubb:

Busting that myth right out of the water. 

 

Tammy Heuych:

Yeah, exactly. His sleep was, like, just virtually non-existent. So, he only wanted to sleep on me, only wanted to sleep for short bursts. So, day sleeps, looked a lot like me sitting on the couch, breastfeeding him breast sleeping him, reading poem cards to Xavier or watching a movie or reading a book. Because as soon as he even felt the sensation of me putting him down, oh, no sirens were on. At night time - the same- he refused to sleep in his cot, I think I have a couple of pictures of him sleeping in the cradle up until about six months, I think he probably slept in it about six times. So, co-sleeping for me was such a saviour in that time, and I remember Xavier going through this period of “Hold on, I’m four,  there's another baby here, that's my space.” So, I went out and bought him a trundle and had that at the end of the bed, because he kept coming in and I'm like, “Dude, I can't sleep with both of you in the bed. Plus, another parent, this is just not working.” And it was in a king bed too. So, I think having the trundle at the end of the bed and him feeling that safety, and also knowing he could go back to his bed, created a much more comfortable environment for us. 

 

But with Ashton, I think I got really high anxiety when he was about four months old, because he just wasn't sleeping, the only way to sleep was on top of me, and here I have this four-year-old who's demanding my attention. I'm at home, so I felt this expectation to cook and clean and do the washing and that sort of stuff and I just felt like I wasn't getting anything done. And it was just doing my head in, and I can remember it so clearly sitting there with bub sleeping on me. Again, for the sixteenth time doing flashcards with Xavier and just looking at the amount of dishes that are in the sink, or the pile of laundry and just really getting highly anxious about it. And we weren't sleeping at night, he was waking every 20 minutes and at that time, I considered sleep training. And I did it for about two nights. And I distinctly remember hearing him cry, me sitting with my back against the door going, “I freaking hate this. I can't do this. This feels unnatural.” And that voice from that lady when I had Xavier going, “Does it feel right? Does this feel right?” in the back of my head. And I went “No, no, no, this does not feel right to me. Having my baby cry hysterically and just sitting by and letting him cry. I'm going to get emotional. So, I'm going to, it just it just, you know. They're only little for such a little time. And for him, for me to think that that was the way to do it. And realizing it wasn't him that had the problem of sleeping for 20 minutes, that worked for him! Obviously, that works for him, because he was very happy bub. It didn't work for me. 

 

So, I had to change my thinking of how I approached it and I had to let go. And lo and behold, the wonderful Ergo carrier became my best friend. I have two. I have one in the house and one in the car. And just it's like something clicked in my brain and went “right okay, I need to let that go. Stuff is just not going to happen around the house. And that's okay. I'm going to have to remove expectation from people. He's only a little person. He can't do much. He wants to sleep on me. So, how can I sort of find the middle ground?” and that was getting the carrier out. And he loved Ergo. Absolutely loved it. Forward chest being all snuggled up. And I just found this whole new way of doing things. I was able to get some of the washing done and feel like I was getting through my day with my carrier on and still giving him what he needed, or if it was a particularly rough day, and or a particularly rough night, just going, “Everything can wait”. So, it was cutting my own expectations out. And just, and I had to push back on my partner too, because my partner at the time was quite vocal that we weren't getting sleep. So I went, “Right if you don't like it, go sleep in Xavier’s room”, because I knew what I needed, and I wasn't going to, after those two days, I never wanted him to cry and think that I was not going to be there for him. And I have, as he has grown up, questioned whether those two days of me trying to sleep train him has impacted his perception or attitude and his affection. And that concerns me that, you know, something that I've done for me, not for him, it's for me, has impacted him in how he's developed because he's less affectionate than my other two. So, I do sort of worry about that. And I do sort of mull that over

 

Carly Grubb:

it’s one of those things though, isn’t it, I sleep trained too, as we know,. but it's one of those things where it's like, something that will be forever in the back of our minds, butwe will never know and I think that's the thing. I'm not really okay with the fact that I'll never know if that had an impact or not. I just wish that it just wasn't a part of our story. But it'll always be there. And I know people try to say, “Oh, no, well, it could be anything else.” It's like, yeah, it could be or it might have been that thing. All you can do is move on from there. But I'm the same. So just so you know, you're not alone on that one.

 

Tammy Heuych:

100% right, because it does sort of…its little moments that you catch yourself. Even now he's five, I catch myself going, you know, I hope. I hope it's not. And I remember…so, my mum, my parents have been amazing. So, my mum would take them twice a week. And I remember Ashton again, because he was a cat napper. Not the same as Xavier. She was saying to me, “Well, maybe you need to sleep train. You kids didn't do that”. Blah, blah, blah. And it came to a point where I was copping it quite a bit from my family. And so, I have older siblings, my siblings are 10 and 11 years older than me, and my ex-partner has siblings close to our age. But across both families, we were sort of getting, “Oh maybe should sleep train, you know, our babies didn't sleep like that”. So, for me, it was again, sort of sitting back and going, “Does that feel right? Is that truth?” And it got to a point… Carly, you know me quite well, I'm not backwards and coming forward. So, I'm not …

 

Carly Grubb:

It’s what we love you for Tam. 

 

Tammy Heuych:

Not very good at keeping my mouth shut with stuff. And I just had to call it. I just had to say, “Great, thank you for your opinions, but it's actually not wanted. This is how I'm choosing to raise my child and this is what feels right. So, either you support me, and this is how we do things, or we find another way, and what I mean by that is ,Mum, you're not looking after them anymore”. And she's like, “Oh, no, no, no, that's not what I mean. If it feels right, you know, I'm just worried about you not getting enough sleep”. And I'm like, “it's not a problem with me anymore.” You know. So, after confronting that situation and being quite point blank, the conversation happened easier, where it was, you know, this is what I do when Ashton is not sleeping well during the day. Let him fall asleep on you. Let Xavier watch a video, or read a book with Xavier. We were very fortunate Xavier was an early reader. So, we were able to do those little things. So, I was educating my family around not sleep training, and, you know, co sleeping and Mum, I remember the first-time Mum fell asleep with him on her bed because I'd shown her what I'd done. And she sent me a text message saying, “Oh, I just co slept with Ashton”. And she was so excited about it. Because they both got a nap and it was great.

 

Carly Grubb:

How special too she got to have that experience. 

 

Tammy Heuych:

It is and I feel incredibly fortunate to have my Mum being such a big feature in their lives. And like she's got Louis today. So, she has Louis Monday and Fridays and just the bond they have with my Mum is just incredible. And she's been an incredible support in my life and being able to confront that conversation with someone who is very close to me and who I respect greatly. So, you know, with your parents, it's hard enough having a tough conversation, but then to be able to turn around and say to her, “ I don't agree. That's not how I want to raise my child and this is what's right”. That's quite a different conversation.

 

Carly Grubb:

It also does go to speak to the level of connection you have with your Mum, though, that you could have a frank conversation, and she could listen and take it on board, and adapt, that speaks to that as well, which is amazing.

 

Tammy Heuych:

And I was incredibly proud of her for adapting, for realising that I actually was not going to budge, and sleep training was not the solution. And you know, a couple of months later, she sort of commented on it, “Oh I can see it is working”, like letting go of all of that other stuff that needs to be done. Oh, yeah, it's working. And it's nice having those moments, like I'd get photos of her with Ashton lying on her chest. And those moments, just, you know, as they get older, don't happen as often. So, it's really important to treasure those little moments where you're their world and life.

 

Carly Grubb:

It's food for the soul and it's a shame that so many people miss out on that. So, it's actually a huge blessing to have that as part of your life and the grandparent's lives. So, it's great to hear too like that whole being open with the support network, and actually seeing how that can be changed too, because not being on the same page is pretty common in families.

 

Tammy Heuych:

Yes.

 

Carly Grubb:

Especially because in many ways, we're breaking a cycle of parenting that was done with such well-meaning things. So, you get these beautiful families where this is still part of their history, and it's just been seen as the only option. So, it's nice to see how a different way of doing things can be taken on board. I'm just looking at a time and we're actually coming up to our 30 minutes already.

 

Tammy Heuych:

Oh gosh. 

 

Carly Grubb:

I know!Would you be open to having another episode with us? Would that be...? 

 

Tammy Heuych:

Totally. 

 

Carly Grubb:

Yeah, awesome. Cool. So well, just so that we actually finish off this episode for this week, though, because it's been incredible to hear how you've gone with your first two babies so far. What would your tip of the week be for people listening along? What do you wish you could tell a parent on this journey?

 

Tammy Heuych:

100% as a first-time parent, trust your instinct, trust your gut, block out all the noise and all the well-meaning advice, and just listen to what feels right for you and your bub, because no one knows your bub like you do. You know, and that goes for both parents, that goes for both parents, where there's two parents involved, just being able to work together collectively and just listen.

 

Carly Grubb:

I absolutely love that. And I just wish we could find your nurse that you had back at that crucial moment and just give her a big kiss mwah like what an absolute gem. And this should be the experience that every new parent has when they present in the same kind of state that you were in, that uncertainty. It's new, you're learning and so much of the actual building of confidence is from reassurance and normalizing. So, yes.

 

 

Tammy Heuych:

And having a professional who you're paying money to turn around and tell you “Oh no you're doing it wrong. This is what you need to do.” As first-time parents, you believe what they tell you. 

 

Carly Grubb:

It's classic undermining. 

 

Tammy: Yeah, yep. So incredibly grateful for that woman. I have tried to go back to the clinic since, she was a bit more mature ao, I have not been able to catch her in the past or since I stopped going for Xavier. So unfortunately... but big thanks to her!

 

Carly Grubb:

Hopefully somewhere yes, somewhere out there, if anyone thinks this sounds familiar, maybe get out a listen along so that she knows what an impact she's had, a positive impact that's now also going to be shared with even more families when they're listening along to the podcast. So, thank you so much for coming on this week, Tammy, and I'm very much looking forward to continuing our chat in the next episode. Thank you so much. 

 

Tammy Heuych:

Thanks, Carly. Bye.

 

Carly Grubb:

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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