Ryan went to him, patted his back, shushed him, hummed the entire catalogue of "go the fuck to sleep now" hits - Baa Baa Black Sheep, Boogily Woogily Piggy, Row Row Row Your Boat. I mean he really threw down.
Buster's screams seemed to only get louder, more intense, more enraged as time passed.
At 2, I tapped Ryan out. He told me the next day that it was perfect time, as at 2, he had just begun to cry.
I rubbed Buster's back, shushed him, recited poems, and hummed my entire catalogue of "please please please please please please sleep now" hits - Twinkle Twinkle Little Star, I've Been Workin on the Railroad, and You Are My Sunshine. Oh I hummed the shit out of those songs.
Buster cried louder. I hummed more fiercely. Buster started kicking his legs. I shushed him and stroked his forehead. Buster writhed around in fury. I started chanting nursery rhymes like a Gregorian monk.
At 3:30 am, I caved. I brought Buster into bed to nurse and fall asleep nuzzled into my armpit.
He nursed at 3:30, 5:30, and 6:15. When I got out of bed at 7, he was staring at me with an accusatory frog face. He'd wet through his diaper onto a now clammy, cold onesie and sleep suit.
Last night, Buster woke up at 12:30 am.
Ryan and I lay on the floor and couch respectively, listening to him cry in our bedroom.
Yes, he was crying. But his crying seemed more like... yelling? And was that... was that a coo? A giggle? We could hear him rustling around, thrashing his legs, hollering at the heavens.
After an hour, he started groaning in that "I am about to be asleeeeeep" way, and then he went silent.
We went back to sleep.
At 3:45, he woke up again. I went in to nurse him. He nursed for 10 minutes. I put him back in his crib and he rolled over onto his belly, plopped his head on the mattress, and sighed.
At 8:30, he woke up and I went in to start his day. I turned on the light and said, "good morning, Buster baby!" He giggled and buried his face in the mattress.
I would not presume to make a blanket statement about sleep training or crying it out. All I can do is share my own experience, and lay out a few takeaways for me and my family.
- It can be anguish to listen to my baby cry. It would take an unmedicated amputation or the death of a beloved friend for me to cry like that, so it's very very hard to take a step back and recognize that babies cry harder than adults do, with more intensity and urgency.
- Sometimes babies are sad or frustrated, and they cry. It's okay that they're crying. If I were sad and frustrated, I'd need a cry too.
- That being said, there is a difference between "this sucks" crying and "Mommy I need help" crying. Personally, I'm totally fine with letting my sweet babes wallow in the suckiness of trying to learn how to fall asleep on their own. But if one of my babies needs help, I'm there.
- I believe that, for my boys, our interventions are more frustrating than they are soothing. They're like, "ok, great, thanks for patting my butt, but I can smell the milk on you woman, and this whole 'ssssh' number ain't the same as a midnight snack."
- I believe that, for our boys, we chose to give them the opportunity to learn how to soothe themselves. When we stepped in prematurely, we were robbing them of the opportunity to trust themselves, become comfortable on their own.
- I believe that every parent gets to make whatever decision they want to about how to help their babies sleep.
- I think it's bullshit when moms draw a straight line between how well their babies sleep and how good they are at momming. The mom of a sleep-easy baby is no better than the mom of a wakeful baby. Don't beat yourself up. You're doing the best you can, in the best way you know how.
If anyone wants to give me shit about letting my baby cry, don't.
If anyone wants to give me shit about not letting my baby cry earlier, don't.
If anyone wants to learn more about how we have been helping our kiddo with his sleep, visit http://rebeccamichi.com/. Rebecca is an incredible, compassionate, knowledgeable advocate for all families struggling with sleep, and I would recommend her services to anyone in need.