18 September, 2011

sleeping baby boy

this is the story of one of the two things i feel guilty about with you.

when you were eight months old i am ashamed to say that i let you cry in your crib.

i remember deciding to try it. you were asleep on my lap, where you had napped your entire life. i was in a bad frame of mind and feeling frustrated, i couldn't move if you were sleeping. or talk. or anything. i had to hold my pee. i couldn't eat. and it had been like that for eight months. i was sick of it.

so this one day you were asleep and i attempted to read a book. i turned a page and you woke up. i was so tired of not being able to do anything that i started to ask around if people had let their kids cry in order to learn to sleep. many people told me they had. and lots of moms who i respected told me they had.

everyone i knew was telling me for months that i needed to do it. your grandparents. my grandmother. friends of your grandparents. my uncle. friends of mine. people we worked with.

and i was at my wits end.

so i tried it.

i did it at nap time. i put you in your crib once you were asleep in my arms. you woke up crying. i patted your butt and shhhhhed you as you cried and rolled over and reached your arms up for me to pick you up.

i thought i was doing the right thing. but it felt so wrong. it was awful. and i still feel like shit about doing it.

you fell asleep after about six minutes. and slept for about fifteen.

i tried it three days in a row. for one nap each day. and each day i felt nauseated in anticipation of it and during it and after it.

on the second day you cried less about four minutes and slept about twenty minutes.

you usually drifted off to sleep so peacefully and slept for a long time.

everyone said that i was doing the right thing. that it was good for you. that i just had to do it. that i had no choice.

but it felt wrong. it was wrong. it was no good for you. or for me. i did not have to do it and i did have a choice.

on the third day you cried for about two minutes. i said to myself, "f this. what the fuck is wrong with me?" and i scooped you up, said how sorry i was, tucked you into the moby wrap and held you tight. and i took a picture of us. and i never let you cry to sleep like that again.

so we went back to our lap naps. and sometimes i wrapped you up in the moby or tucked you in the ergo. and that was it. i felt so much better about me and about you and about sleep.

soon after this you started to sleep in the car. and the with the vacuum. and then i could nurse you to sleep in bed. and then i could sneak away. you used to wake up crying. now you just say, "mommy up!" and that's after you sleep for three hours nearly every day. all by yourself.

at night was always a different story. you usually fell asleep easily after your bath. i would get ready for bed and we would snuggle in on the couch together. daddy would bring me food and hold you while i ran to the bathroom. he would do everything for me that i couldn't do because i was holding you.

i sometimes forget how helpful he was. and i always want you to know that i couldn't be this type of mommy for you without a daddy like yours.

so anyway at night you usually woke a lot but you never cried at night. you never had to.

and these days, a couple of weeks shy of two, you are still usually up a lot. i mean every hour or two. but you are in bed with us so it's not as terrible as some might imagine. it would be terrible if i had to get up out of bed and go to you. but i don't. and maybe you would be sleeping through by now if you were in another bed, but for us and for now, this is just fine.

but here's the cool part. over the past few weeks, you've been sleeping longer stretches. you have only been waking up twice.it's glorious. these nights are still not the norm, but at least i know you are getting there. all by yourself.

i didn't have to let you cry.

i'm sure that lots of people who read this will have strong opinions about it -- and i would enjoy hearing them -- but i will disagree with them, for sure. because i know there is an option. we don't have to let our babies cry. and we do not have to teach them how to sleep alone.

today it's two pm and you are asleep on my lap. you've been asleep since eight last night. you are obviously fighting something off. but it's a day like this that makes me wonder how i ever got tired of sitting on the couch with the tv on and a sleeping baby boy on my lap.

those days were easy.


  1. I've often had to fight my resentment at being in that same situation at naptime--not able to even get up to pee because of my boy sleeping on top of or right next to me. So when we nap together on the weekends (he's in daycare M-F), I make sure I first go "check potty" (haha), put a glass of water and a snack on the table next to me, and find a good movie or long tv show to watch if I can't fall asleep with Jax. We tried CIO once or twice, too, and I hated it so much. And like Mason, Jax is now having random awesome nights of sleeping straight through. Yeah it took forever to get here, but we're here (sometimes) and didn't resort to something that made my stomach churn just thinking about it.

  2. two things:

    1. i would never say you were/are wrong for the choices you're making about not letting him cry because, no matter which way you go, it's not going to make a difference to his overall mental health or development. if it makes you feel better, and if it doesn't hurt you, and it clearly doesn't hurt him now, then do whatever you want and raise a middle finger to those who say otherwise.

    2. didn't you notice the progression? didn't you notice how the time decreased? didn't you have the curiosity to let it keep going to see how it worked out? i'm disappointed you didn't keep going because it would have given you the ability to tell those other big mouths that you did try it, and you tried it all the way, and you didn't see it working. but you can't say that because it was working.

  3. jaime, it's so funny how connected we seem to be in our thoughts and experiences! so glad to have met you.

    brainsnorts: 1. i disagree -- i do think CIO is harmful to growth and development. 2. i did notice all of those things. but i also noticed how it felt very wrong. and if something feels wrong, then it is wrong. and when you say working, it depends on what you mean.maybe he would have started sleeping alone and falling asleep alone, but it certainly wasn't working to teach him that his mother would be there for him when he needed her. that's more important.