project 31 - day seven

Day 7. Do you believe in the "cry until he sleeps" method?

The short answer is "yes."

The longer, more truthful answer is, "sort of."

I struggled with this issue. I mean, really struggled.

I soul searched. I talked to John. I looked to my trusted girl friends for advice. I asked my Mom, my Grandma, my neighbor. I read books. I Googled. I posted on Internet forums. I cried it out, a little.

Jack and I co-slept for the first five months of Jacks' life. It was various shades of lovely and extremely difficult. I really loved being so close to my baby. It was easy to roll over and nurse him in the middle of the night, both of us just awake enough to get the job done and drift off to sleep again. It was so sweet to wake up next to him, a little snuggle bug of new baby goodness. It felt right.

At the same time, it was so difficult. John was sleeping in the guest bedroom for most of those five months. We began to feel like roommates. I missed him. I missed being by him. And I'm sure John felt a little bit left out, marginalized. I also ended up being the sole nighttime parent, which was exhausting.

Jack was getting more and more restless as the weeks went on. It took forever to get him to fall asleep. The only way he would go down was by walking and bouncing around the house, followed by nursing to sleep. And most times, the minute I put him on the bed, he would wake up screaming and we would have to start the cycle all over again. He would wake up every forty-five minutes to nurse. The shades of lovely were becoming harder to distinguish through the glaring exhaustion of sleep deprivation.

John and I both agreed: something had to change. We just didn't know what or how.

I worried about this so-called "cry it out" method. I thought for sure Jack's little heart would break. Or he would feel completely abandoned. Or he would hate us in the morning. Or he would hate us later in life. Or he would cry so hard he would puke. I'm sure there were a million more things, but you get the idea. I was scared. I didn't know if I was strong enough, let alone whether Jack was strong enough.

But I was so tired. So completely and utterly drained from waking up every 45 minutes all night long for two and a half months. I was fried. At the end of my rope. Willing to try just about anything.

And I read the "no cry" books. Or at least, I tried to read them. I had the attention span of a two year old at that point, and my reading comprehension wasn't much better. I needed help now, not over the course of the next twelve weeks.

John and I agreed to try "cry it out." We also agreed that we'd transition Jack to his room and his crib at the same time. And we set a time limit that we were comfortable with - if he wasn't asleep within an hour, we would be done for the night.

I called my Mom and Dad, and invited them over for dinner and moral support. I knew that this would be hard for us, and I worried about giving in too soon or messing it up and making things worse. I wanted experts there to help us.

That night, we did our bedtime routine as usual - bath, book, nursing, cuddling - and we put him in his crib, smooched him, told him we loved him, and left the room. Jack babbled for a minute or two, taking in the novelty of the situation. I'm sure at this point he expected us to come back in and get him. When he realized we weren't coming back, he started to cry. That's when we normally would have gone back in, picked him up, rocked him, nursed him more... Anything to get the crying to stop.

Instead, we sat outside on the back deck and started the timer.

The first time, we set the timer for five minutes. We could hear Jack through the open bedroom window, and honestly, it was heartbreaking. That was a long five minutes. When the timer went off, John went into Jack's room and rubbed his back, smooched on him, told him he loved him, and then left the room again. This time, the crying started immediately.

We put another five minutes on the timer.

My parents reassured us and tried to distract us with conversation. But the second five minutes were just as hard as the first five. When the timer went off the second time, we both went upstairs to Jacks' room. Just as we reached for the doorknob, we realized that Jack was quiet. We waited a minute or two, and nothing.


That night, he only woke up twice to nurse. It was a miracle.

The following night, we only had to go in once to reassure him. The night after that, no crying. Since then, the kid has been a champion faller-asleeper. And I can't point to any negative consequences. I'm sure at some point he will hate us, but I'm confident that it will be for some other grievance. This one has already been forgotten, I'm sure.

So, do I believe in the "cry until he sleeps" method? Sort of.

I guess that all I can tell you is that what I described above worked for us. I know it doesn't work for every parent or for every baby; but for us, it was what all three of us needed at that point. I certainly don't believe in letting a baby cry unchecked for long periods of time. And there's definitely an age at which babies are too young to self-soothe, and so any form of CIO will be ineffective at the very least, and potentially even harmful. I would say if you're going to do it, do some research first. Decide whether a CIO method is right for you and your partner and your baby. If you have concerns, ask a trusted friend, your pediatrician, or someone who's been there before. And if it doesn't feel right, don't do it.

Jack needed his own space, and a little help with learning to soothe himself. Mommy and Daddy needed to get back into the same bedroom. Mommy needed some sleep. And that was how we got it.

Day 1. I have a three month old and already I'm thinking, I'm going to miss him at this age. Have you felt that way, and what age do you miss the most?
Day 2. What makes you uniquely you?
Day 3. A photo that makes you happy
Day 4. Style 31. Post a pic of you in your favorite outfit.
Day 5. Post a YouTube video.
Day 6. Your most embarrassing moment
Day 7. Do you believe in the "cry until he sleeps" method?
Day 8. Have a beauty secret (e.g. hair tip, make up tip)? Share, please!
Day 9. What virtues do you value in yourself?
Day 10. What are some of your favorite MAC products, and what foundation/powder do you wear?
Day 11. Post a recipe. Or if you don't cook, try a new recipe and write about how it turned out (pictures please!).
Day 12. Write about what wears you out as a woman.
Day 13. Write a blog thanking someone who has made your heart come alive.
Day 14. Style 31. Post an outfit pic!
Day 15. What do you wish for?
Day 16. How old was Jack when he started sleeping through the night and how did you do this?
Day 17. Write about 3 things that make you happy.
Day 18. If you could, what would you tell yourself before you had your baby?
Day 19. Write about your significant other
Day 20. Write about your job and why you love it or hate it.
Day 21. Write about your most vivid childhood memory. Post a picture of you taken over ten years ago.
Day 22. What did you do today?
Day 23. Who's your celebrity look alike?
Day 24. What is God teaching you presently?
Day 25. Style 31. Post a pic of your favorite comfy clothes.
Day 26. What do you hope your grandchildren will say about you someday when you are gone?
Day 27. Who are your favorite bloggers?
Day 28. Write about your insecurities as a woman.
Day 29. Your day, in great detail
Day 30. What do you think is going to happen to you after you die?
Day 31. Your favorite quote

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