Anytime anyone comments on our baby from the couple sitting next to us at sushi, to the UPS guy (seriously!) it goes like this:
Aw what a cute baby [or some variation thereof]
How old is he?
Is he sleeping through the night?
And when you say No, you get advice. Buckets of advice:
Add rice cereal to his bottle
Gotta tough it up and let him cry-it-out
We've been urged to cry-it-out from friends, family, doctors, and the UPS guy and because we're not doing what the majority of people are urging us to do- K feels bad. That we're lacking in the parenting department. That we're the only parents whose eight month old still wakes every few hours all night long. I know that's not the case. While unpleasant and frustrating, I know this is normal. He's a fabulous baby, but sleep? He's just not a big fan of it. The problem is I'm a big fan of sleep. I think sleep is awesome. I'd vote sleep for president if I could. And I miss sleep. He's had three doctor visits each giving him a clean bill of health [Thank God] and the admonition that if I like sleep then I must let him cry-it-out.
I've written before about how I don't want to do CIO as in just thinking about CIO makes me want to cry it out. But. We've tried it all: keeping him in his crib, co-sleeping, bath before bed, infant massage- nothing helps. We even gave him one nap-free day with the theory that surely he'd be so tired he'd zonk out all night. Instead? He was a perky bunny all day and just shakier and more hysterical at night. Teething? Possibly. Except- how long does this whole teething thing last? It's been months and nary a tooth in sight. It might be the sleep deprivation talking but the cry-it-out concept is singing its siren song like Ursula tempting Ariel- except I'm not asking for anything as grand as legs to replace fins, just the ability to function without caffeine.
We were tempted in November but we'd be out of town for Thanksgiving. December brought Christmas in DC. New Year? K's parents were in town. [and the last thing you should do is try CIO with grandparents anywhere in or near the vicinity.]. But now the reasons to delay are gone but the crying? It remains.
We moved his crib last night and while it was difficult for us, he gave us the first four hour stretch in four months. So maybe he needed the solitude of his own space. Still, the rest of the night I was a 24 hour diner. My doctor says don't encourage him by feeding him late at night- but nothing will soothe him but eating- and if it will help us sleep- I'm game.
Now that he's in his own room- the question of CIO springs up again. CIO advocates insist its best for the child and that despite the hysterics and screams, they want you to do it and that its the first of the many things we do to discipline our children. What Aisha? You can't handle this? What are you going to do when he hits his classmate and cries when you send him to his room? I know as a parent I'll have to impart discipline that might make him cry but those will be at ages I'd like to think he'll understand why he's being disciplined. Right now? He cries for us at night like he thinks we've left him forever. He clings to us when we go to him as though he was certain we would never return. While I know that we're right there- and that he'll see us, God Willing, when he wakes in the morning, for the dark moment in time that he feels all alone- that moment breaks my heart. But maybe this isn't about me and how CIO makes me feel- maybe he needs it and not doing so is damaging him.
So in short, when it comes to cry-it-out: The mind says yes- the heart screams no. But ofcourse we don't want to do it. Who does? What parent grins and says oh goody! Time to put my baby in a crib and hear them cry themselves into hysterics!
I'm thinking about doing it. But I'm scared. What if he stops giving me puppy dog grins and sloppy kisses. But what if I'm harming him by not doing CIO. Not teaching him to sleep properly for long stretches, triggering life-long insomnia. I feel bad K thinks he's being a bad parent by not doing CIO.
I type these words just twenty minutes after putting him down to sleep and you know what I'm thinking? Maybe tonight will be the night he sleeps through the night. Because every single night, despite logic- I hope this will be the night.