360 West — June 2014
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At Your Service
Laura Samuel Meyn

Melissa O’Neill is in the business of getting babies — and parents — back to sleep.

The Bedtime Blues

Sweet, sweet sleep — it’s so elusive during the weeks and months after your baby is born that having your head on a pillow for six straight hours seems an unimaginable luxury, a hazy memory from a previous life.

Registered nurse Melissa O’Neill, a TCU graduate, spent a dozen years working in labor and delivery and the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU). But after the birth of her first child, she joined the ranks of sleep-deprived mothers. She spent the next few years reading up on children’s sleep studies and, by the time a second daughter was born, she had figured out how to begin nudging a baby toward a sleep schedule as early as two weeks after birth.

O’Neill became affiliated with Moms on Call, a group of pediatric nurses based in Atlanta who offer in-home consultations on infant care, emphasizing a good nighttime routine to promote sleep. She now uses their books and methods in her Fort Worth-based Newborn Nightingales. Word of mouth about her business has spread rapidly; in her first year, O’Neill has helped some 75 North Texas families.

Newborn Nightingales offers two approaches to adjusting to life with a baby. For immediate relief, night nurses work 9 p.m.-to-6 a.m. shifts that offer parents stretches of uninterrupted sleep. And to set families up with healthy patterns long-term, O’Neill herself does in-home consultations, arriving just before naptime to walk parents through the bedtime routine — correct swaddling is key — and sticking around to answer questions about everything from feeding to GI issues to CPR.

Each client can determine the level of services needed. Two days after coming home with baby Weston, Rachel Pinckard found herself alone due to her husband’s pro baseball schedule. She engaged O’Neill for both a consultation and occasional night nursing when her baby was about 2 weeks old. “Melissa’s schedule gave me so much comfort because I was able to predict when he would wake up and when he would eat; prior to her, I had no idea, and that was very stressful,” Pinckard says. “Night nursing saved my life! My night nurse allowed me to feel refreshed and made me a better mom.”

Client Gloria Holmsten brought O’Neill in to help with her 2-week-old baby, and repeat visits kept her on track. “Every week she brought a new schedule and goals to strive for during the next week,” Holmsten says. “There is nothing harder than listening to a baby cry and not knowing why. Melissa knows why, and she can tell you what to do to make things better.”

Melissa Greenhill’s in-laws, Bill and Ann, purchased a Newborn Nightingales’ gift certificate to send in some relief after Greenhill’s twin boys were born. “My boys went from screaming and crying through bath time to loving it.”

And although night nursing, in particular, comes with a luxury price tag, clients routinely call O’Neill and her team “a blessing” and “a lifesaver.” Following an in-home consultation, O’Neill keeps in touch with the new parents so questions can be answered as they arise.

“We email her first before using Dr. Google,” says Greenhill. “Having a RN available to bounce questions off of has been great.”


Newborn Nightingales In-home consultations with registered nurse and NICU veteran Melissa O’Neill begin at $150. Night nursing (generally 9 p.m.-6 a.m.) with a registered nurse or a newborn specialist begins at around $28 per hour. The company operates within a one-hour radius of Fort Worth. New parents or parents-to-be may sign up for The Rest Registry; gift certificates also are available. For more information, 214-632-1673 or newbornnightingales.com.