Being a parent is hard. Or at least it is for me. Just when you think you have something figured out, bam – it changes. My baby used to sleep well at night. She would wake up in the morning and my husband and I would eagerly go in her room to find a smiling, laughing, well rested baby. What happened to that family?
Now a typical morning follows at least 4-5 wake ups throughout the night where we have to help baby get back to sleep. I’m in her room, on the full sized bed, trying to get her to sleep just a little while longer because it’s so hard to get out of bed while my husband is in our room trying to get just a little more rest because he has to get to work soon. She’s crying and I want to cry.
I feel like a failure. Unfortunately, sleep philosophies are in round 1,259,390 of a boxing match in my head right now. In this corner, we have sleep training. In its most extreme form, it requires me to let her cry for as long as it takes until she puts herself to sleep in her own crib, by herself. If she learns how to fall asleep on her own, she’ll be able to sleep through the night and she’ll be well rested. In the other corner is a more natural, co-sleeping solution where she can sleep with us and I pick her up when she cries and give her what she needs and what she wants. Maybe a happier baby, but probably less sleep for me. But maybe my baby is just a little happier.
Both seem painful to me. I can’t help but worry that if I leave her to cry in her crib, she will feel like we abandoned her and don’t care. The thought of that makes me cry. Like right now, while I’m writing this. What if it somehow impacts her long term sense of self or leads her to feel less loved or worse – what if it leaves her with an unsettling craving for love? And it’s g-d painful to hear her cry. She doesn’t just whine. She bawls like she’s in pain, like someone is hurting her. She crawls around her crib and pulls up to the very front and looks for us. She chokes and coughs. It’s terrible. But the last time we did this, it worked. She started sleeping through the night in three nights and each night got easier. But I’m afraid that it will suck the life out of her.
If we continue the way we have been, picking her up and rocking/singing/humming to her when she wakes up, it’s bad too. On this side, I fear that it will create bad habits – if baby cries, baby can get her way. Everyone does what baby wants. On top of that, I’m exhausted. I’m putting on weight, I have a cold, and I haven’t had more than 5 hours of sleep in…gosh, I don’t know how long it’s been. I don’t see how I can give her my best if I’m constantly like this. Her daddy needs to go to work. He’s exhausted too. I find myself doing things that don’t make sense. Sent a senseless email the other day. Almost squeezed toothpaste into my contact lens kit. I almost fall down while walking into her room at night to go get her.
Today our pediatrician asked how she’s sleeping. I told her. She looked at me in disbelief and said “It sounds like there’s some manipulation going on.” I feel stupid and incompetent (and tired, did I mention tired?). My mom’s friend is a pediatrician. She told me I should just leave her and let her cry for as long as I can handle it. It just feels so counter-intuitive to me to leave her to cry. My husband and I talk about this often. If we were living out in nature, would our baby be sleeping in her own cave? If she woke up at night, would we just let her cry it out so that the tigers could find her and eat her? No. So why does it make sense for us to let her do this in our home if it’s not the most natural thing to do? Because her crying is inconvenient? I dunno. I know we all need the rest and sleep training just makes sense. Certainly what we’re doing is not good for anyone. I think it’s time for a little tough love. Wish us luck!