Lil Z had been admitted to the hospital following a major seizure. She was less than a year old, non-verbal and unable to sit or stand independently.
We hadn’t yet managed to get her on the right combination of anti-epileptic medication to stop her seizures, so it was a scary time.
Added to that, Lil Z was a terrible sleeper and rarely slept more than 2 consecutive hours during the night.
I had tried everything to get her to sleep.
Our house was full to bursting of books written by baby sleep experts, none of which worked in the slightest.
We’d done everything from controlled crying to co-sleeping and none of it worked.
I was an anxious, exhausted wreck, surviving on an unhealthy combination of caffeine, sugar and adrenalin (thanks to the regular ambulance rides to the hospital).
It was in this state that a music therapist came to see us.
Ironically, Lil Z was having a nap at the time, so we talked a bit instead.
I told her about our sleep problems and she suggested that music might help. Since I’d already tried the singing lullabies route, I was doubtful.
Later that day, she stopped by again to give us a CD called “Music for Dreaming” and suggested it might help settle Lil Z.
The music is specially arranged for relaxation and reducing stress.
The rhythm of the music replicates the human heartbeat and the tempo is that of a resting human pulse – all of which should bring about a sense of calm.
Now, I wish I could say that a miracle occurred the first time I put on the music, and that Lil Z fell asleep instantly. She didn’t.
But something unexpected happened.
It soothed me.
In the middle of the night, with a screaming baby, I could rock her and listen to the music and feel just a little bit calmer.
And when I was calmer, Lil Z was calmer - not necessarily ready-to-go-back-to-sleep calm, but less screamy.
I started playing the music on repeat to her overnight.
And even after Lil Z finally started sleeping through the night (thanks to a medication adjustment and a week in a sleep clinic), I kept playing her the music throughout the night.
I also copied the music onto my phone and iPad.
That way, when Lil Z is in the hospital, I can play her the music – something familiar to make her feel safe and secure.
Lil Z now shares a bedroom with her big sister and they both fall asleep listening to the music every night.
Of course this was only the start of our love of music. Lil Z and her sister now enjoy singing and dancing (or in Lil Z’s case wiggling and kicking).
We’ve introduced a dance music playlist to our bathtime routine, which heavily features Katy Perry, Taylor Swift and music from the movie “Frozen”.
It is now Lil Z’s favourite part of the day.
My husband plays Lil Z music from Smooth FM when she’s grumpy and having a bad day.
And music therapy is one of her favourite activities at school.
Hans Christian Andersen wrote “where words fail, music speaks”.
Lil Z may not have words, but she does speak to us through music.