21 January, 2011

crying it out

i just finished getting you to sleep. it took a little longer than usual. but you are sleeping soundly for now and i am watching your sweetness on the monitor. there has been a heated debate on one of our friends facebook pages about the "cry-it-out" method of getting babies to learn to sleep on their own. sleep through the night, that is.

i have been hesitant to blog about crying it out. i started a post months ago but never went through with it. it's a touchy subject. we have many friends who have used the techniques of ferber or gary ezzo and other like-minded (mostly) men who want to make millions helping moms get some rest.

and while i love these friends, i do not agree with some (or, for some of them, any) of their parenting techniques. i didn't want to enter the debate with them, because let's face it, i am sure these same friends have lots of feelings of their own about the way i parent you. and just because we disagree, that does not make them bad parents. everyone does the best they can with the knowledge they have.

but inspired today by our good friend, who was brave enough, and antagonistic enough, and humorous enough, to post as her status on facebook that she is sickened by the cry it out technique, i figured why not say what i think. i am sure many of you reading this will become infuriated. many of you will agree wholeheartedly. my intent is not to create strife, but to simply share my feelings and to maybe sway someone who has not yet been swayed by ferber, or worse, ezzo to a more compassionate way of getting babies to sleep.

i have been raising you in a way that some people say is weak or wishy-washy. too lenient. that i let you rule the roost. that i have created a monster who wants to be held all of the time. these are all things i have actually been told, with smiles, of course, as if these people were joking.

my parenting style is based on trying to see the world from a child's eye. from your eyes. you, who want nothing more than to be near me. to feel my breath. my heartbeat. it's all you had known for months in the womb. i was all that you had to trust in this new and probably, at times, frightening, world. and yes, i hold you a lot. i love to hold you. i can't imagine ever regretting that. and i can't imagine ever regretting all of those minutes and hours i have spent lying next to you as you peacefully fall off to sleep.

in the beginning i stressed a lot because you cried all the time. all. the. time. if you weren't crying it was because you were nursing. or sleeping. but you didn't sleep much during the day so you cried a lot. and nursed a lot. i read a lot. this was early on before i trusted myself as a mother. i read books by mostly men about how to get you to sleep like a normal baby. i worried that you wouldn't thrive because you weren't sleeping enough. i couldn't make plans to do anything because you cried all the time. i couldn't go anywhere.

all of my other friends seemed to have it so much easier. their babies slept. they were on schedules. they had cried-it-out.

i tried it once. well actually three times. three naps started with you screaming. you never cried for more than six minutes. i couldn't take it any longer than that. i did all i could not to pick you up after six seconds. i was always right there patting your bum or your belly and shhh-ing you. and telling you i loved you. i will never NEVER forget the look on your face as you looked up at me with tears and red cheeks. your eyes bulging out of your head. reaching your arms out for me to pick you up. it makes me sick and sad to remember it. you were about seven months old. you had only napped on my lap, in the carrier or on my breast. people said i was ruining you. that it was good for him. that it was good for me is really all they meant.

i didn't trust myself. so i did this to you. and i will never forget it. and i will never forgive myself. i look forward to the day when i can tell you how sorry i am. and you can understand.

that last time i did it i scooped you up and apologized. i told you that i would never do that to you again. i held you tight and you fell right to sleep. and i have never done it again. and i never will. if that means that i nurse you to sleep and back to sleep throughout the night until you are three and a half years old, that's what i will do. if it means that when you are nine or twelve i still have to pat your back so you will fall asleep, then i will.

i don't worry that you will never learn to sleep on your own. i don't worry anymore that you are in danger of anything because you don't sleep through the night. after all, i haven't slept through the night in years and years. who has? i do fear that the stress that i caused you as you reached for me screaming did cause you harm. i will never know for sure.

what i am sure of is that once i started trusting myself and doing what felt good and right, you were happier.

1 comment:

  1. OK, I just have to say Thank you. I too have felt like I am a bad parent or too lenient. My kids sleep with me. And they need me to fall asleep. And yes sometimes its annoying or discouraging, and I lose a lot of alone time. But it is worth not seeing that face when I try to let them alone in the crib or the bed when all they want is me next to them. I tried CIO a few times and just couldnt stomach it.
    And yes sometimes I feel judged and feel like I am not doing the right thing, but it feels right to us. And my kids are happier and more content and this is just what works for us. I dont always get the soundest sleep I need, but what parent does?? Co sleep or not?? It is just nice to know I am not alone in my parenting style and I am not "spoiling" my kids. How do you spoil them on love and security?? Thank you !!