Posts Tagged ‘cry it out’

No You’re Never Going To Get It

Monday, January 4th, 2010


One hour is exactly how long I made it on my first attempt at night weaning before I gave up and nursed the baby. Although by that point he was so far gone into angry exhausted screaming mode that even a few minutes at the boob didn’t help and he kept whimpering long after he was sound asleep. It was sucky and awful. I certainly didn’t get any more sleep than I normally do and poor E got significantly less. But even so, I think it was a success.

Up until now I have never been interested in what the experts call “sleep training”. I believe forcing a baby to self-sooth and sleep through the night at a young age is a modern Western ideal and biologically unreasonable at only a few months old. But you know what else is unreasonable? Nine months of being exhausted. Nine months of being the only person doing the night feedings. NINE MONTHS of feeding on demand despite my nagging suspicion he’s not actually hungry at all. Even the anti-sleep trainers all end their advice with the little disclaimer that being a good parent is really more important than how you put a baby to bed. Nothing about spending all my night feedings resisting the overwhelming urge to just shake the baby off, leave the room and walk out of the house forever makes me a good parent. Being too tired during the day to play does not make me a good parent. Using up every ounce of patience in my body before 6 am and spending the rest of my day seconds away from yelling does not make me a good parent. It also makes me a lousy wife and partner, especially because my other nighttime routine is thinking over and over how much I resent being the only one who feeds the baby and therefor the only one who gets up with the baby. The little ball of resentment and anger is like a popcorn kernel in my tooth that I focus on and pick at and poke until it’s sore and red and all I can think about. Getting divorced simply because I’m breastfeeding definitely does not make me a good parent. And so, night weaning has begun.

Baby Evan has always been a pretty good sleeper. He transitioned easily from co-sleeping to the crib and from napping in the swing to napping in his room. Our established night time routine of bath, boob, book and bed is successful and usually all he needs to fall asleep is a few minutes of cuddling and rocking. He often wakes up, finds his blanky, rolls over and goes back to sleep on his own without needing to be soothed. But the night feedings are frequent and constant, every 2 or 3 hours all night long, mostly due to habit not hunger. My ultimate goal is to get down to ZERO feedings between 7 pm and 7 am but for the next few months I’d settle for one 2 am feeding and someone else to rock him back to sleep every few nights. Sunday was our first try and it went like this: Baby goes to bed, Baby wakes up wanting to eat, E tries to get him back to sleep with absolutely no luck, I try to get him back to sleep with no luck, consider letting him cry it out for a few minutes but can’t bring ourselves to do it, give up and let Baby nurse for less than 90 seconds, baby passes out, wakes up again, cries for two minutes, passes out again.

The whole thing took an hour and a half but then he slept from 1 am to almost 7 am without a sound. He woke up the same happy, smiley baby he does on the nights we don’t have an EPIC BATTLE and has been fine all day. No signs of permanent psycological or emotional damage. I think he might be nursing a little more than usual – or maybe I’m just offering more often because I’m afraid I starved him last night – but that just means he’ll be less hungry tonight.

I’m giving it a week. A week to get to a point where I can wake up rested and refreshed and feeling like a normal person instead of a grumpy monster. If he’s still not even close to a full night’s sleep by then I’ll take a break and go back to surviving on naps and caffeine for a while until I can work up the energy to try again. Or maybe I’ll just be exhausted for the next five years. That sounds like fun too.