When my daughter was fifteen months old, I hit a wall. She had never slept well, and at that point we were getting three hour stretches of sleep on a good night. On a bad night, she was waking up every hour. I was exhausted, and I had already tapped out my resources. I’d read The No Cry Sleep Solution and Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Child, and I had made changes to our routines accordingly. We had consistent nap times and bedtimes, a good bedtime routine in her own room, and I did my best to put her down drowsy but awake. The only thing I had not done was leave her to cry herself to sleep. I was getting a lot of input from outside sources that was telling me I should sleep train her, yet I could not shake the feeling that sleep training was not what my daughter needed. I had a sense that there was something deeper going on, but I wasn’t sure what it was.
I have always been an intuitive person. When making decisions, big or small, I make it a practice to get out of my head and into my body so I can listen to what’s going on beneath the surface. Turning inward and connecting with my own inner compass has helped me chart my own course through life, and I knew even before my daughter was born that it would help me as a parent.
I knew there was something else going on with my daughter’s sleep. I had a feeling that she was struggling with relaxing enough to fall into a deep sleep. It seemed to me that she was sort of stuck in her sympathetic nervous system (the part of the nervous system that is responsible for the fight or flight response), and I wondered if there was an issue with her parasympathetic nervous system (which is responsible for the relaxation response).
Although I had an inkling of what was going on, I felt stuck. I didn’t know what else to do to help her turn off and relax, so I started seeking outside help. I looked into acupuncture and chiropractic care. I knew of a few acupuncturists who worked with children, but I was actually friends with a pediatric chiropractor. He used to bring his daughter to my toddler yoga class, and I respected and trusted him. Still, I had trouble making a decision. Even though my intuition was telling me to take her to the chiropractor, it went against everything I’d “known” about chiropractors growing up. As the daughter of an orthopedic surgeon, I had grown up with a strong message that chiropractors don’t know what they are doing and can’t be trusted.
So, I called about acupuncture. The prices were higher than I had expected, and something was telling me to keep looking. But somehow I still couldn’t bring myself to call the chiropractor. I just wasn’t sure it would be safe for my daughter. Instead, I reached out to my cousin who is an osteopath. I filled her in on my story and asked her if she thought going to a chiropractor would be a safe and potentially helpful option for my daughter. She told me that it really depended on the practitioner. She had patients who had found good chiropractors and had great results.
That was all the confirmation that I needed. I called and set up an appointment for an evaluation. We did a number of scans and assessments before we even scheduled our first assessment. Every diagnostic measure that he used showed that she had imbalances in areas that were associated with sleep and/or constipation, which was another issue we had been trying to resolve. I was fascinated, and we scheduled an adjustment.
When I brought her in for that first adjustment, my mind was blown. He used his pinky to hold a point in her hip, and she almost fell asleep in his arms! She slept in the car on the way home, and I was actually able to carry her inside and put her in her bed and she stayed asleep! That had never happened before. Soon, she was sleeping five hour stretches at night, then seven, then ten. The first time she slept through the night I felt renewed and so grateful. By connecting to my intuition and allowing it to guide me, I had found a solution to something that really challenged me as a parent that I never would have come to if I had followed the advice I was being given.
Although working with a chiropractor was the solution I was seeking, my intention is not to convince you that chiropractic is the solution for your family. My intention is simply to share the powerful effect that tuning in has had on my parenting. Has connecting with your own intuition made a difference in your parenting?
Connecting to your intuition
Writing as a practice can be a powerful way to not only connect to your intuition, but also to help you clear your mind, understand your thinking, and identify your triggers and reactive patterns. If you’re interested in developing a writing practice as means of growing as a human and as a parent but you aren’t sure where to start, I’ve got a collection of prompts to help get you started. What can I say, once an English teacher, always an English teacher. Or something. Just enter your email below to get started.