Adventures in Sleep Training

Right now the big thing happening at our house is sleep training. It’s horrible. There’s no other way to say it. I get why people don’t do it. It’s the worst. It’s really hard. My Hard Scale is below, with 0 being “kinda hard” and 10 being “this is so hard I can’t barely tolerate it.”

0- Leave the house before having any coffee.

1- Do a Sprint triathlon when the temp at 6am is 90F with 70% humidity and the water is too warm to be wetsuit legal.

2- Smile and tell your husband “Thanks for doing the laundry, hon!” when actually he did it completely wrong and also don’t have a sh*t fit when he says you sound like your mom if you should accidentally let on that he messed up the laundry.

3- Run a Marathon.

4- Resist punching the person on the bus who talks really loud on his/her cell phone. When will someone tell this person NO ONE WANTS TO HEAR HALF OF THEIR CONVERSATION? Now, a whole conversation on which I can eavesdrop? That’s an entirely different story.

5- Complete an Ironman triathlon.

6- Abstain from chocolate.

7- Dating

8- Unmedicated childbirth.

9- Not hitting the snooze button.

10- Sleep Training.

The method of sleep training we are using is the one where you ignore your baby crying, aka CIO (Cry It Out), considered by some to interfere with your child’s ability to form a trusting bond with you, and a means of messing your child up forever.

The argument against this method is that if your child cries and you don’t come, he gets the idea that he might as well not bother because no one is going to come anyway. That sounds pretty pitiful, doesn’t it? And pitiful does not begin to describe the sound of a baby’s ignored cries. I totally get that side of the argument.  Proponents of the Cry it Out approach say that by not going to your crying child, you are teaching him to self-soothe and figure out how to fall asleep on his own, and eventually the whole family can get some quality sleep. Not only is the child getting the sleep he needs, but mom and dad are too, which makes them less stressed, more loving, and patient parents. Furthermore, this method teaches the child how to put himself to sleep, which is a skill that will serve him throughout his lifetime.

Many say that if you commit to it 100%, the Crying it Out is guaranteed to work. I’ve never been sure if I believed in God (definitely some higher power, which please, if you exist, make the sleep training work. Please.) but I believe in sleep training. I don’t know anymore whether I’m on board because the theory behind it sounds so reasonable, or because it just has to work now that I’ve already driven myself half crazy trying to make it work.

Like the other night (morning?) when we were crying at 5:20am. And I don’t mean the Royal We. I mean Sweet Pea and I were both crying.  If you have a child, I don’t have to explain why listening to your baby cry from the next room for over an hour would bring you to tears. If you don’t have a child, imagine a gang of thugs beating your grandmother while you watched, gagged and bound, powerless to stop it. That’s what ignoring your baby’s cries feels like. Admittedly, nothing good can come of the hypothetical grandma situation. On the other hand, while while your child cries alone in her crib, if you can even think straight as your heart is wrenched from your body and run over by a semi truck, you cling to the mantra from the sleep book which has become your bible. My baby is crying because she loves me and wants to play with me. I love my baby so much I am letting her get the sleep that I know she needs.

I don’t care what camp you’re in as far as methodologies for eliciting good sleep in infants.  I think this Mommy War thing is ridiculous. Dan and I have chosen our path and we’re staying on it. We’re fighting the only war that matters and that is War on Crying in the Middle of the Night for No Reason. It’s hard (see Hard Scale, above), but when we, the adults of the house, come out victorious, it will have been worthwhile.

5 thoughts on “Adventures in Sleep Training

  1. Stephanie Sprenger says:

    Thanks for posting this. We are going insane with sleep deprivation over here, and have been very anti-CIO up until now. We are desperate, and may be giving it a whirl. Would love an update on how many days it takes you guys! Good luck! Also- love the gang of thugs beating up your grandma analogy!Well said!

  2. Pam says:

    Stephanie, we are almost at the two week mark and we seem to have gradually gotten to where there are no middle of the night wake-ups. (Knock on wood!) She still gets up between 5 and 5:30am or so and according to our pediatrician, babies are like birds and if they get up at dawn and there’s nothing you can do about it. It took very little time for her to go from crying a lot when we put her down for the night to barely crying, if at all. That was maybe a three night process, much easier than eliminating the crying in the middle of the night problem…Good luck!!!!!

  3. Stephanie Sprenger says:

    Glad things are going well and you are getting some sleep! We further complicated our sleep situation with a lovely family illness. Baby still coughing at night so I feel like I am at her mercy when she wakes up right now. Ugh. Someday!

  4. thirdculturemama says:

    We went CIO from birth (age appropriate length of CIO of course) and only have experience with the one (born mid March) but it’s been totally worth it to us. We have peaceful evenings to ourselves, which is seriously a gift we can give back to baby. He quickly found his fingers and doesn’t cry all that much anymore. I used to think it was pitiful that he didn’t cry because we weren’t coming, but now I realize he has everything else he needs and so we’re not neglecting him or not loving him. Hang in there – you’ll get through it. And it’s probably easier doing it at this age rather than later on.

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