Thursday, July 28, 2011


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.


  1. I can't read your post and not let you know that I have a child, who I will not name, but her name rhymes with "esicca" that would not sleep through the night at 6 months old. She thought sleep meant lying in my arms while I nursed her which was fine except she was the only one sleeping. I finally succumbed to the "let her cry" advice from my pediatrician.

    He told me to be prepared for her to use all of her baby skills to make me feel guilty and not allow her to have her way (wait....I think she's still using those on me). He said she will not only cry but cough, scream bloody he--, whine, and even have occasional periods of quiet so you relax, get comfortable and think you are smarter than her.

    I decided I was going to be strong and my sweet, young hubby was to tackle me and hold me down if I started to give in.

    The first night went like this: "Goodnight sweetie! Time for bed!" (happy baby). I walk out of the room--she cries. I go back.."Goodnight sweetie! Time for bed!" (happy baby). I walk out of the room--she cries. Repeat about a bazillion times and throw in all of her baby skills the doctor warned me about. This lasts all night. We both have no sleep, but how can she be happy alllll day long while I walk around bumping into walls?

    Night 2: Same as above except now I was sleeping on a foam pad in the hallway so sweet husband could actually sleep a little bit and not get fired from his job the next day.

    Night 3: Same as above. Except after 20 min it was quiet. I didn't fall for that. I did not rush in there to see if she was still alive. 5 more minutes....still quiet. 30 more minutes...still QUIET! VICTORY!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    You'll be happy to know....she still sleeps through the night, most of the time.

    Hang in there, I promise you you won't damage your son and he'll still love you. Just watch out for his deadly baby skills.

  2. Hey PJ, you are a mighty girl. :) Good luck with everything. I had a big realization after Rayna was born that tough situations like this don't have to feel like mom's needs vs. baby's needs, because if they were, the baby would always win. For me, it was helpful to realize that we were all members of a family, and each member had to learn to work within the family dynamics. Does that make sense...? I had to learn to change my own habits and plans to fit this new member, but she also had to learn the skills (like self-soothing) that worked with mine and Bowman's needs (because we DO have legitimate needs). And she did.

    Graham is going to be a happy boy with a happy, rested mama to take care of him. (I don't usually say the word "mama" but this seemed appropriate somehow... A mom-to-mom bonding convo, you know.)

  3. I do not have children. I have not read a single parenting book. I do not pretend to know anything. Still, here is my opinion:

    Happiness comes from learning to accept painful experiences rather than from removing them. I think that crying it out is healthy for the baby.

    But really I just wanted to share a relevant episode of a TV show I enjoy:

    I *think* it's appropriate. Watch at your own risk.

  4. My little guy is just a little older then yours. he has slept through the night since he was 10 weeks old... BUT!!!! it comes with screaming every night. i can hold him i can feed him i can do everything i can and he will cry every night. just tonight i gave up and placed him in his crib and sat outside his door.. it took him 10 min to sooth himself and go to sleep. i still feels bad that i let him do that, im scared he will hate me tomorrow but i know its good for him and my sanity. anxiety attacks at night don't help a mom be a good mommy. i feel your pain but know it will only help our babies out! hang in there and know it will all be for both of your goods!!

  5. Thanks for the encouragement, guys! And I'm happy to announce that Graham slept for a seven hour stretch last night!!! There were some tears all around, but no unbearable crises yet.

  6. I have been on vacation for 1 1/2 weeks, so I missed this blog. Thank Angela for her great advice. When you think how Heavenly Father parents His children, it involves a lot of us figuring things out things for ourselves (Graham learning he can soothe himself). And learning that we don't get everything we THINK we want.
    Glad he is getting better at night. Makes a big difference in YOUR day.


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