Friday, February 26, 2010

So Sergeant Pepper took you by surprise

Last Friday we began sleep training in earnest.

We'd been letting Jordan cry a bit, but we would always cave and then I'd wind up feeding him so we could all go back to sleep.

Which is all fine and good until you are doing this at 12 am, 2 am, and 4 am. Or 1, 3, and 5. And he acts like he's ravenous. And then he's getting up at 6 am not hungry.

Our pediatrician had told us we could start doing this at 4 months, but like the feeding solid foods, we held off.

So at the 6 month checkup she said, go ahead, let him cry if you are comfortable with that.

Because the letting your baby cry issue, it is a HUGE one on the mommy message boards. (And somehow my inclination is always to call them the motherboards - do computers still have motherboards?)


There are the yes, let your baby cry, you need to teach them they can self-soothe and get themselves back to sleep. Otherwise they won't be able to sleep for the rest of their lives and insomniacs are much more likely to wind up in jail. And do you want to do that to your child?

And there are the no, you're damaging their little psyches for life and they're probably going to wind up axe murderers if you let them cry. And if they're axe murderers, it's all your fault.

It's all very stressful and fraught with emotion and peril.

So we've been letting him cry for longer and longer periods.

The first few nights were hell. Hell. HELL. It got slightly better as the week went on.

But Monday morning I looked like I'd been beaten. I'm not exaggerating. I looked all battered.

Because for one thing, it's terrible hearing your child cry. Your inclination is to go fix it, make it better.

And for another, if he's crying, you're not sleeping.

And so after you've peeked in to make sure that he hasn't stuck his little legs through the slats like a stockade, then you lie there and remind each other that he's safe, he's fine, he's not actually hungry, etc.

You learn that this can go on for a shocking amount of time.

You hear him wake up, and he's all, "Hello? Hi! I'm awake. Come get me!"

And you whisper at each other, "Don't get up! Maybe he'll fuss a bit and then go back to sleep."

And then some time goes by.

"HELLO? Hi! I'm awake. Come get me!"

Much like Inigo Montoya, he repeats this. Over and over and over. And each time he ratchets it up a little.

"HELLO? HI! I'm awake. Come get me!"

"HELLO? HI! I'M AWAKE. Come get me!"


And then, if there's no response, he begins:


Pause. Waits for response.


And then you tiptoe in to pat him and he's immediately all smiley and, "Hey! Nice to see you! How the heck does one get a boob around this joint?"


  1. Oh, Lisa, I totally feel your pain. But (and I know you hear this ALL the time) it really really does get better eventually. We transitioned to the crib in his own room in January, and we're down to one wake-up/feed per night, if that even. I won't feed him before midnight, or if it's been less than 3 hours since his last meal. It's worked for us, so far. But man, it's not easy. Especially not at first. Good luck!!

  2. haha, i believe this is the premise behind Stewie on family guy (at least that's my take on it)
    and i'm not looking forward to this part of child rearing (teehee)... i can't even let my dog "bark it out". do they make bark collars for babies?

  3. I'm so pleased that the profanity embargo has ceased. This post wouldn't have packed the same punch without the god fucking dammits.

  4. He is a child of both of his parents.

    And, good luck. Maybe if you think about it as teaching him to self-soothe so that he doesn't wind up in a horrible co-dependent relationship down the road because he never learned to take care of his own emotional needs? ;o)

    I mean, if we can put our horrible dating experiences to good use, we should. Right?

  5. First, it worked with my daughter. She would cry for a while and then go to sleep. My mother assured me that it worked for my brother.

    And then there was me. My mom swears I screamed nonstop for 5 hours straight. (Obviously, she didn't try that again)

    Here's hoping big J gets to sleep soon!

  6. *hugs* lack of sleep sucks... :-(

  7. Luna - I am glad you are in a good place with this! I have a lot of friends who say this totally worked. And there has been definite progress. I am totally OK with one feeding a night. But not three! Nonono little man!

    notsojenny - Ah, I never thought of that. Nick loves Family Guy. I hate that show, and I hate that little Stewie so much I'd smother him with a pillow if he were my kid. Good thing it's just a cartoon, no?

    Hillary - The kind of indignation and outrage and anger he puts out over not being tended to totally calls for this kind of profanity. He is NOT all, "Gosh darn it heckfire!" No way no how.

    Dagny - THIS! This not only strikes fear in my heart but is one of the best arguments yet! You are absolutely right. As per usual.:)

    cla517 - Out of curiosity, are you a good or bad sleeper?

    VVK - Yah. Hugs to you, too.

  8. OMG! I laughed to hard when I read this I think I burst a kidney. It has been a long time since I've had an infant around, but I KNOW that is the EXACT converstation babies have when you don't respond.

    This too shall pass...someday. Hugs.

  9. "How the hell does one get a boob around this joint?"

    Brilliant. I am laughing my ass off.

    But not at your expense.

    Lisa - I was NOT of the school to let them cry - but then, after 9 months of living looking like Skeletor with Shaila - I decided to give in. We actually had help. John's mom came - took away our monitors and we put sound machines on in our room and she "took care" of shaila for a few days. Within three days she was sleeping through the night.

    Now I am not saying I will send John's mom over to your house (but she DOES make a mean meat sauce) but I think maybe you can try the sound machine and kind of keeping the monitor somewhere far, far away and off? Jordan will stop sounding like an aggressive drunk after a day or two.


  10. it is hard but i swear it gets better. we went cold turkey CIO the night after i realized betti was playing me for a bottle. and a week later i had a full night's rest; it was like i was a new woman with all that sleep! good luck!

  11. Oh dear God... I'd have to take pain pills or something.

  12. Here's the answer to your question: I was NOT a good sleeper as a child. Until I was a teenager. Now, I sleep like the dead. A brass band could come through my bedroom and I'd probably just pull the covers over my head.

  13. What a great resource!

  14. There are gentler ways of helping your child fall asleep if you are so inclined. Especially if hearing him scream breaks your heart (it killed me) Look at the "No cry sleep solution" by Elizabeth Pantley -- she has a website that introduces the concept and the book is pretty good too-- it works with some kids--with my first girl worked great-- though it takes some time; or Jay Gordan -- which involves some protesting so it is a bit harder for the parents -- but it is still gentle. Don't want to enter the debate -- though I am of the school that feels that Cry it out is inherently wrong -- i remember being allowed to cry for hours without my parents looking in on me as an older child when I was upset and I still carry emotional scars. But to let you know it does get better -- both my girls woke up every two hours for over a year -- but now sleep from the moment they put their head down on the pillow to the moment they wake up in the morning.

  15. Travel Diva - Sorry about the kidney, but that delights me.:)

    Masala Chica - One, I laugh every time I think of Jordan behaving like an aggressive drunk - that is an excellent description. Two, I would LOVE to have John's mom here to fix the sleep issue AND to make us some delicious meat sauce.

    The ideal/not ideal thing is that J's room is connected to ours. So there's one thin door between us. We open it once he's soundly asleep and we're going to bed and leave it open. I'm in favor of keeping it shut - we do have monitors, after all - but Nick is opposed.

    mrsmac - We've gotten more sleep on some nights and it is so dramatic how much better you feel the next day! And it made me laugh out loud to read "betti was playing me for a bottle."

    Jules - Yah.

    cla517 - Thanks for answering! I really was curious! I have read all these things about the importance of training your kids to be able to get themselves back to sleep and creating a lifetime of sleep problems if you don't. But you're a much deeper sleeper than I am - which I totally envy!

    Anonymous - I am so sorry - I don't think babies get scarred, but older kids certainly, and I think it's completely unfair to let an older kid cry and cry and not check in on them. I appreciate your suggestions and also not getting into the debate - because as you know, it is a huge and contentious one.

  16. I imagine few things being as difficult as this. I always had said that if ever a parent I would be firm about sleep training -- and then I tried to lock the cats out of my bedroom one night. And the wailing. OH THE WAILING! I caved in no more than 15 minutes. Am not firm.

    Also, I hear more and more from parents about just how judgy mcjudgerson other parents can be about what you choose for your child, whether it's breastfeeding or circumcision or letting them watch Idol. I really had no idea this was the case, and it makes me a little sad, because I would imagine there is little more parents could use some support on than parenting itself.

    (I'm quite sure you're awesome at it, btw, evidenced by the happy kid in that photo above.)

  17. I invested in ear plugs with Zeke. Best 2 bucks I ever spent.

  18. After the screaming just to get him to sleep in the crib, I've been putting off the not getting up in the middle of the night thing.

    It's really helpful to read this - thanks for being honest. I think all those people who keep telling me their kids have been sleeping 12 hours a night since 5 weeks are lying to me ;)

    And, we know all too well that "hey! nice to see you look" Alex still does it to his dad when he's having a hard time going down for the night and D always comes back ready to cry.


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