wake at 9, 10, 12, 2:30, 4:30 and then at 6:30 am for the day. At 6:30 I would bring her back to our bed to nurse her and occasionally she would go back to sleep for an hour after that. Some nights were much worse than that, very few were better. Most of the times that she woke up, she’d be awake for at least 20-30 minutes while nursing before finally calming down enough to go back to sleep.
I got increasingly worried, frustrated, and more and more exhausted. I read articles about CIO and how bad it was for babies. I read that psychologists cautioned against sleep training because of the horrible, long term, physical, physiological, and psychological damage it does. I read articles about cortisol levels and how increased levels stunt brain development. I read that sleep training doesn’t really train babies to sleep, it just makes them eventually give up on the thought that anyone is coming to help them in their lonely desperation. I winced when reading those phrases and held on to my mindset that I could never do something like that to my beloved child. I read articles about attachment parenting and raising happy confident kids, and that making them cry to sleep was basically the opposite of that. I swore again that I would never do it. My mother told me multiple times that she (and all of her friends) did it with all of their children and we all turned out okay. I told her again and again that it wasn’t for me, that I simply could not listen to my baby cry. That if she cried it was because she needed something, and that I could provide that- whether it was a hug, nursing, rocking, or just comfort of my presence, and why would I ever want her to think that I would NOT be available for that? I explained that time was already going so quickly and that in a way, I cherish those dark nights in her nursery when she calls for me and I show up for her. That is the kind of relationship I want us to have. That the trust that she can count on her mommy to come through for her whenever she needs something is more important than rest for either one of us.
But we HAD to do something.
I began to think about the would-be judgment from my attachment parenting friends If I explored this sleep training idea. Even considering it sent me into a tailspin, questioning who I am as a mother, questioning what I’d been saying to myself all along about cortisol levels and what being a good mother means. I knew I wanted the best for my baby, but what did that really mean?
I started wondering if any psychologists had explored the continually elevated cortisol levels of a sleep deprived child. What did THAT mean for brain development, for confidence, for overall happiness? I started to explore the idea that perhaps, training my baby to sleep- which would certainly mean a lot of crying, was the best thing I could do for her, for her brain, for her happiness, for her future. It honestly was not for me and my state of exhaustion that I finally decided (admitted) that it was what had to be done, it was absolutely, positively, 100% for my child. It was a decision I came to in spite of what others might think of me. It was letting my ego take second place to my child’s needs. I struggled with it for days before we finally committed to doing it. I went back and forth and second guessed myself. I again referred back to the many books I’d read about how to get your child to sleep without crying. I again tried all of the methods the books recommended for a couple of weeks each, and still, they were not working.
MOMMY'S TIME OUT