Cry It Out - a liberating experience?

Yep, I'm one of those moms. My baby cries, in her own crib, in her very own bedroom, just about every night now... even some days. No, that doesn't make me a terrible parent, and I promise she's still a cool kid full of happiness and rainbows. So much so, we've decided, she's just not interested in sleep. You see, when you're so absolutely fascinated with everything around you, sleep just doesn't sound like much fun.

There have been a few sleepless nights where in sore-boobed desperation I've asked her why she won't just go to sleep. That's when she looks at me with those big baby eyes saying "I can crawl, eat big people food, and I have teeth! Would you want to sleep through any of that?" and I understand it, I really do... I remember college... well, some of it. So I had to make a choice.... do I let her decide when she goes to bed, even if that means we're all up until 3 a.m. or do I start getting her used to going to bed on her own... putting herself to sleep...

It seemed so wrong- I work all day to try to keep her happy, why would I want to put her in bed with the purpose of letting her cry? She's always been one of those happy breastfed babies that has always gone straight to sleep as soon as you stick a boob in her mouth. When her pediatrician (baby-god) mentioned that she needed to start "soothing herself to sleep" even if it meant she cried for a while, our only question was "but how do we keep her awake long enough!?"
Now we know.
Lately she's either resisted the whole time by kicking or flailing, or she'll wake herself up the second her little tushy hits the crib mattress. I'm sure there's got to be something in the world that's more frustrating than that, but I sure can't think of anything.

So we started putting her down, letting her cry, and eventually she goes to sleep. I go in, make sure she's comfy and dry, cover her up, and she eventually falls asleep and sleeps all night. In the morning, she's my happy little bean again. Last night brought back memories of the Mad About You episode where Paul and Jamie sat outside the baby's room for hours listening to her cry... and by the end, the baby's asleep and they decide they've broken her heart. I watched that episode the weekend before I went into labor and swore up and down I'd never let my child cry herself to sleep... but I do, and I don't feel like her little heart is breaking... mine does, but hers seems just fine.

As husband-pants and I were sitting in the bathtub (our big people retreat, after baby goes to bed) talking about matters unrelated to bean, I started thinking about how badly I've neglected my good friends... two, in particular, and how much I needed some time to myself. I've been justifying not taking a break for months now by saying that since I breastfeed bean and she refuses to take a bottle that it'd be hard for me to leave her with husband-pants at night. Now, though, I'm not solely responsible for getting her to sleep. I make sure she's fed, but the rest can be easily done by anyone else... that is awesome.

I never thought that I'd be able to share the responsibility of bedtime with anyone else in the way that I'm able to now, at least until after bean was weaned... I'm thrilled with it, really. Bedtime used to be my time... After I fed her I'd watch her sleep for a while before I laid her down. I had a certain way I covered her up every night, a routine... and that's different now, but I'm ok with it. Husband-pants feels more involved, bean gets better sleep, and I get a little time to myself. This weekend I plan to go out with my friends and recharge... every mom needs a break, and I'm well overdue. I'm excited about getting out and having no worries about bean girl for a little while, because I know she's fed, and husband-pants can handle the rest, and there's something so absolutely liberating about that.


December 14, 2007 at 3:09 PM Olivia said...

Good for you! I am so close to doing the CIO, but not quite there yet. We have done it before (in desperate times) and it went just like the experts say, but since we cosleep in our big bed I am cautious about her rolling around in there by herself. I'm glad you blogged about this, CIO is a subject that gets heated quickly.