Monday, August 17, 2009


Loving my babies is easy. Addictive. Intoxicating. Rewarding. Amazing.

Parenting is hard. Hard because it takes restraint. Discipline. Decisions.

I want so desperately to get it right. Because here we are with this grave and awesome responsibility of having created two little lives. Two beings who we yearned for, cried for, hoped for. Two tiny people we pushed and pulled into being.

And here they are. Being, learning, growing. Becoming. Right in front of our very eyes.

At first all we had to do was love and nurture. Nurse them when they needed comfort. Hold them close. Keep them clean and warm and dry. Not that it was easy. But it was rote.

Things seem to progressively become more complicated.

Sleep continues to be a struggle. Some days we have no naps. Some nights we seem to have no more than thirty minutes of sleep. We need to make a decision about how to work through it. Do we let them cry it out? Or do we wait for their systems to work through this?

I have my own opinions on this. I have instincts. I've researched. I've read. I've asked just about everyone I know. And yet I haven't found clarity.

Every cell in my motherly self screams "NO!" to cry it out. How can I sit there, as my sweet babies call out to me in the one way they know how, and not respond? I want them to feel secure in the knowledge that when they communicate their needs, they can trust me to help. But then there's the lack of sleep. They need sleep. Their parents need sleep. And they need to learn boundaries. And to self-soothe. But then there's consistency. If we start down a path of cry it out, can I stick to it? And if I don't stick to it, what does that teach them about trust and security?

I think to myself, "I just want to love them" and know before the thought has finished forming in my head that these decisions are part of loving them. Even when I don't know the answers.


Anonymous said...

When you were young, there was a show called "Mad about you" starring Paul Riser and Helen Hunt. After the characters had a newborn, they debated the cry it out thing and decided to try it. The filming and dialog were thoughtful and elegant. It showed two tortured parents trying to make it through a half hour show of the baby crying. If you have a friend with Netflix, you might find this episode thought provoking.

I couldn't do it with either of my kids. No matter how many people told me to, I just couldn't. But just because I couldn't, doesn't mean that your situation is the same, or that you should feel guilty about trying it. Everyone's needs are different. You may even find that one of your boys is fine with it and the other isn't.

I hope a solution reveals itself to you soon. Your blogs worry me sometimes!



Daryl said...

Interesting that Ursula mentions Mad About You .. personally I loved the show til they had Mabel .. it jumped the shark after that IMO and I never really loved Helen Hunt .. nevertheless that episode was what I thought of as I read this post ...

Gotta say one last thing ... wait til you get to toilet training ...

Dawniebird said...

Hi April - it's Dawn from Mom's group - we just went through "cry it out" with Haley - I didnt want to do it, but like you we came to a point where a decision had to be made. It's such a personal decision - if you want to chat, just let me know, I can tell you some of the things that helped me to get through it. Thinking of you guys!


Kara said...

This is one of the many tough decisions that we as parents go through. I have never been one to go with the "cry it out" and still to this day I can't bring myself to do it. Landon still doesn't sleep through the night and I have said well he's a breastfed baby and most breastfed babies enjoy "snacking" throughout the night. I have always been okay with the fact that he still wakes up to feed. I just tell myself this is what he needs, and this is something I can give him and there will be a day I can sleep through the night. So for now I go with it and I cherish the time with him. We have tried multiple sleep strategies, but one that I have followed is Dr. Sears and the baby book! It's a book worth checking out if you don't have it..... Good Luck with the sleep training and here's to hopefully soon, a good night's sleep!

Sarah F. said...

Oh April...this blog hits close to home!! This is a tough one and I myself can not bring myself to let my babies cry it out but I do know people who have and have had success. At Ava & Caleb's 6 month check up the doctor tells me that they should be sleeping through the night by now. They don't. I feel that I know what is best for my babies I get up with them all through the night to nurse them as I feel this is what is needed and best for them. Good luck you are their Mommy and only you know what is best for them!!! Sounds like those are two very lucky little boys to have you as their Mommy! I hope there is sleep in your near future!!!

Anonymous said...

I wish someone had been at our house last night to take a picture of Bri and I reading in bed at 10pm - him with Dr. Ferber's "Solve Your Childs Sleep Problems" and me with "Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Child"... Only to have our lovely Stella wake up and start crying, the first of three times last night... If we find anything compelling in our readings, I will let you know :-)

Jasmine said...

In my opinion infants do not need boundaries, nor do they need to learn to self-soothe. The sleep situation sucks, but it will get better.
But, keep in mind not crying it out does not mean you have to do it alone. Daddies can bounce, dance, rock, soothe, etc. and even if the babies are crying throughout this they are still being shown love and attn. and not being left to wonder why no one is answering their cries.

Sades said...

I am one of the only moms in my baby group who has not used the cry it out method, and I'm very glad I haven't. I think my baby will be better off for it, and our relationship is stronger because of it. Sure at 9 months we are still nursing 3 to 6 times a night, although 6 is a rare event, but I know she needs that, and for us it is a quick nurse, and we are both back to sleep. I second Jaz on having daddy help out. I was out for a run the other night, so Nate learned that with 15 minutes of slow bouncing and spinning he can put Audrey back to sleep. It is good for him to know that, and good for their relationship as well. Good luck.

Parsing Nonsense said...

I hear ya on the complicated parenting thing. Now that I'm pregnant, I'm really trying to come to terms with the fact that I'm actually going to have to parent this little person. Like, create rules, boundaries, expectations.


You'll figure it out! We all have to, don't we?

2Shaye ♪♫ said...

I'm so sorry you're not getting the sleep you need. I remember going through that with each baby. Our youngest is now 17 months old and I can say that it gets much better the older they get (usually, that is). They'll test and test your dependability until you seriously don't think you can take it anymore. Today we're pleased that we didn't give in to the temptation to force them into our expectations when they were just infants. We read every book we could get our hands on regarding infant sleep when we hit that point...that point where you're just ready to do whatever to get a good night's sleep. But we, too, believed instinctively in answering every cry and being active and present in their attempts to communicate their needs.

Each family's situation is unique, of course. So we had to examine our own lives to find out where we were devoting our time and energy (and why). We finally decided that we had too much going on and that during these early years, one or both of us had to release most of our other duties and be a full-time mother or father. I was already a stay-at-home-mom, but I was still involved in all sorts of activities around town (I easily get roped into running anything) and in my second master's degree work and doing a small part-time job and in a million different online ventures and dialogues (from blogging to e-lists to discussion boards, etc.). IOW, my brain was constantly in motion even if I was at home most of the time, so I didn't give myself time to relax when my babies were relaxing (the very few times they actually did relax). I really believe that my babies felt that source of stress in their oddly overworked SAHM mother.

Things seemed to get better when I scaled everything WAY back and I found time each day to rest and relax and really really focus on being primarily a mother. And, interestingly enough, my babies seemed to sleep better, too. When we all go through a bout of sleepless nights, I can usually trace it back to my workload or stress if I think it through. Just weird.

Good luck and I hope you'll keep talking it out on your blog as you reach each new plateau. Your decisions will need to be unique to you, but we will probably all have something to learn from your journey.