Saturday, May 23, 2009

cry it out, baby.

i have a love/hate relationship with "cry it out".

i am a stay at home mom, and for the first 4 months of my son's life (which really, was just a week ago) i sat in my recliner and took care of my baby from there. i fed him there, i played with him there, i rocked him to sleep there - and i even let him take his naps there. i'd sit with the boppy around me and he'd sleep peacefully in my lap while i read a book. but as you can imagine - i was spending my life in the recliner while my house went to hell. and part of my SAHM aspirations involved having the time to do things like....the dishes, and laundry. my son is extremely demanding and high-maintenance, but i let him get away with it because, why not? he's a baby. a little baby, who needs to learn attachment. and i'm a stay at home mom, i have no where to be. the dishes will still be there when i'm done. someone said to me recently, "cleaning the house while the kids are still growing is like shoveling the walk before it's done snowing". i like that.

but, then comes the whole thing where...we want to sell our house. and i doubt potential buyers will be wooed by stacks of poopy diapers and colossal mountains of laundry covered in spit-up. something had to change. i asked our pediatrician how to handle the nap dilemma at his 4 month check up (the boy sleeps 9 hours at night. wonderfully. alone. but hates on his naps for some reason). she said that he is officially old enough to handle "cry-it-out" and that even though it is hard and it sucks, we have to remember that we're teaching him a skill. he needs to learn how to fall asleep on his own, or he will become a 9,10,12 month old (and beyond) with no independence. some people may still debate this....and i love my son with all of my heart, and then some...but i want my child to have independence.

so we started the very next day. it was 2 days of pure hell. he refused to sleep in his crib, and on the off chance he fell asleep for 5 minutes - he'd wake up crying louder than before, seemingly ticked that we "tricked" him into falling asleep. i considered giving up many times, but i kept repeating the doctor's reminder in my head, telling myself that i can surely outlast a baby. by yesterday afternoon he was unrested, cranky, and irritable. and me? not much better. i knew this was all a side effect of his learning, and that when he finally figured it out he would be in much better shape than before. i had to just wade through it. finally at 3pm, he'd had a full day of fighting it....and could no longer stay up. mid cry, he passed out in his crib...and slept for 3 hours. it was SUCH an accomplishment! you couldn't smack the smile off my face. it was the first sign of progress, and i knew that even if the coming days would suck - he was slowly figuring it out and he could learn this. it was my sign to keep at it.

we have visitors here for the long weekend, and i couldn't decide if i should push through this while people were here, subjecting them to his angry wails. i considered hanging up the towel until they left - partly to save their vacation, and partly to keep him in high enough spirits to be able to leave the house and do something with them. but after yesterday afternoon, i decided to just keep going - no matter what came our way.

he slept his 9 hours last night, got up at 6:30 this morning, and was ready for a nap at 8:30. he slept for an hour and a half in his crib. so i truly think - he's getting it!

i've had friends tell me that they "don't believe in cry it out", and ya know....i didn't either, before. i would have never done this in the first 4 months of his life, and for the first 6 weeks (when attachment is the most crucial) i barely put him down for more than a few minutes during the day. and i would never let my baby go without any of his needs met. but now, at 4 months & 1 week old, after he's been fed, burped, changed, played with, held and rocked to sleep - there's no reason he can't spend some time alone, crying if he chooses to, while he figures out how to sleep. how else will he learn? and the longer i keep up his habit of only sleeping with me, the worse the damage is half a year from now. it would be more traumatizing to him then, when he's more aware of his environment.

so at this point i say, whatever. hate on me if you want to. but my baby is going to be sleeping well, on his own, by the time he is 6 months old. probably long before. and not only will it be better for him (because motionless sleep is the most beneficial, he won't get overheated sleeping on another human in the heat of summer, and he will develop sleeping skills as well as independence), but mommy can spend a few hours keeping the house clean and escaping to the internet to revive her sanity. and i highly doubt my child will be scared for life in the process.


  1. Hi, I'm visiting from MBC. Great blog!

  2. I had to make the CIO or co-sleep decision a little over a month ago. I had never intended on co-sleeping, but my maternity leave was a mirror image of what you described in your first paragraph. That stage led to sleeping in a co-sleeper type crib next to my side of the bed. Once my daughter outgrew it, I just pulled her into bed with me on some nights, and on others, we tried putting her in her own crib... without much success. Well we were faced with doing the CIO method and we tried it. After about 90 minutes of going on every 5-10 and then 12-15 minutes, she fell asleep. It took such a toll on my emotional state that I totally chickened out and went "full spineless jellyfish" the next night, scrapping the whole plan and just pulling her back into bed with us. I wish I had the guts to do it, but I can't. Nor do I think it's scarring to do so, however the age range on when to implement CIO varies depending on who you read.

    My hat is off to you for being able to do it. I'm jealous of the extra space you now have in your lap... and your clean