Is it Time to “Mom-Up” About Sleep Training?
At 7 months, I decided it was finally time to say goodbye to my “hired” village, and as my friend and Babble blogger Cassandra Barry likes to say, “Mom-Up.” I had to get rid of my night ladies. Places in Africa needed water wells for god’s sake. I think I could have built/dug 20 so far if I hadn’t employed my gals.
It’s just that with Fia, I was such a wreck from no sleep and no hired help, that I kinda lost my sh-t. We Ferberized her at 4 1/2 months. I became evangelical about the beauty and benefits of sleep training. With Emmett, I’ve done the opposite. I have managed to find all sorts of excuses–some valid, others not–to put it off.
He has reflux. He has gas pains. He’s farting too much. He must be in pain. He’s pooping too much. He must be in pain. He’s not pooping enough. He is constipated. He ate too much. His tummy hurts. He didn’t eat enough. He must be hungry.
This little dude has me weak in the knees with his ridiculously happy temperament that it’s been hard to think about letting him cry.
But the real reason I haven’t done it is I’m not tired! I think in order to go full throttle on sleep training, you have to reach the brink of insanity and misery. Or be falling asleep at red lights. Or have your husband threaten to check you into the psych ward. Instead, with 8 hours of sleep a night, I have bounced happily through his infant stage, feeling pretty damn good as our bank account dwindles.
Phil and I both started talking about sleep training oh, about 4 months ago. Emmett would sleep happily on one of us while we watched every episode of Storage Wars, The Daily Show, and Breaking Bad. I wasn’t frantically going to bed at 8 pm, hoping to get a 3-hour stretch of zzz’s.
“When are we going to sleep train Emmett?” Phil would ask. “Soon,” I’d say, sipping my wine, not taking my eyes off the TV. Neither of us were exactly motivated.
At 10 pm, we’d hear the knock on the door and in came our night help.
Frankly, with that set up, I didn’t want to “Mom-Up.” I mean, no one gets an award for lack of sleep, so for me, this was the right decision. To a point. But then it became a bit ridiculous. A little too easy. And I knew it was also in Emmett’s best interest to learn to put himself to sleep. Not to mention we needed our house back. And to some extent, our freedom. I didn’t want to travel anywhere because I knew I’d be the one losing sleep. Having a night nurse does get limiting–in an upper-class-problem kind of way.
So, with this 3-day weekend, we decided it was time.
This one was pretty bad. We put him down at 8:30 pm. He was up at 10:30. I changed his diaper (was only wet). He was up again at 11. I went in and tickled the back of his perfect neck (god I love that boy). He fell asleep until 1:30. Then started to wail. Fia woke up and started wailing too. Phil was running one way, I the other. It would have been comedic if it weren’t the middle of the night. Phil got Fia back down then came into Emmett’s room. I was sitting there rocking him.
“What are you doing?”
“I thought he pooped,” I said, knowing he hadn’t.
“Look, we are either doing this or not. If you can’t handle it, go down and sleep on the couch, and I’ll do it.”
“No, no, you’re right. Okay.”
I put him down (asleep) and walked out. He slept until 3:25. Then we let him cry for an hour. But before everyone freaks out at my cruelty, it wasn’t like he wailed for an hour. He would calm himself down and have 5-10 minute bouts of sleep. Then gear up again. Neither of us went in.
He slept until 7. The worst night was over.
Much better. He woke up at 10:30. I changed his diaper. He slept until 4 a.m. Cried for 7 minutes. I didn’t go in. He put himself back asleep until 6:30.
Down at 8 pm. A small crying fit at 3:30 for 5 minutes. Not a peep until 6.
I think we are there. And I am feeling this tremendous sense of freedom. I’m already planning our next two trips. As happy as Emmett was, I think he’s even happier now. He too is getting the sleep he needs. I also get to say I’ve “Mom-ed Up.” At least in the nights. No way am I getting rid of my daytime help. I still think Cassandra will be proud.
It also goes to show that there isn’t just one “right” way. This is a good lesson for my judgmental self. I was so sure that Ferbering at 3-4 months was the only way to go. Until I read Bringing Up Bebe. Then I thought I should have done everything differently to have my kids sleeping through at 4 weeks via “The Pause.” I was cursing myself (though by Chapter 6, I was annoyed by the book).
But now I have a baby who is sleeping through the night, who can still take naps on me during the day or sleep on us occasionally while we watch TV. I have flexibility to do what I want when I want. And for me, that’s the true definition of “Mom-ing Up.”