After two months of trying "The No-Cry Sleep Solution," we've had to admit defeat. I was totally opposed to any type of "cry it out," method because it seemed selfish and heartless and unnecessary if you had enough patience. So for five and a half months now I haven't slept longer than a five-hour stretch (and there have been less than three of those long stretches in those five months--usually my longest stretch is three hours).
I never knew the lack of sleep could be so damaging, could wreak so much havoc on my physical and emotional stability--on my ability to be the kind of mom I wanted to be. I hated the feelings of anger and resentment that were coming to define my attitude towards being a mom when it came time to get Graham to sleep. And even when I wasn't trying to get Graham to fall and stay asleep--I was horribly exhausted, irritable, depressed, with no motivation or energy to be anything but a crying mess in sweat pants. Graham deserves more than a zombiemom.
I can honestly say that we are resorting to letting Graham cry himself to sleep not for my sake, but for Graham's. If I could be a wonderful (if a little sleepy) mother on three hours of sleep a night, then Graham would sleep next to me. He would fall asleep while I cuddle and nurse him, and he would stay in my arms all night. That's how I wish it could be. I would give up my nights for him if it didn't mean giving up his days. But I've discovered my limits; I can't be supermom and do everything every good parenting book suggests. I can wear Graham in my homemade baby carrier, I can laugh and play with him for hours-until my face is sore from all the smiley faces I'm making (true story), I can shield his little eyes from the evil television, and I can sing him I Am a Child of God seventy times seven times a day, but I can't go on with this little sleep.
It's hard when instinct and common sense and emotions all collide. When my maternal aspirations smack headfirst into my limitations as a mortal. When there are dozens of militant baby books all telling you to do something different--and that you're horrible or lazy if you aren't doing what they prescribe.
I used to judge the moms who let their babies "cry-it-out," and I probably still do to some extent. I don't think you should let newborns cry themselves to sleep. I don't think you should resort to this to meet your own needs. How you decide to nighttime/naptime parent should revolve around the needs of your child.
A part of me feels guilty about turning into one of those moms who plays the "I can't be a good mom unless my needs are met" card. Generally I think this excuse is lame and a rationalization of selfishness-mostly because I think lots of women mistake "wants" for "needs." (Another soapbox, as usual.) But these months have taught me that I have a very real need for sleep. And I definitely need to start having more charity towards other moms. I don't know the details of their lives. I don't know their motives.
Things I do know: I love Graham. I want to be a good mom for him more than anything else. It will be alright.