Those of you who read my "highly subjective diatribe against Dr. Sears" many moons ago might be surprised to learn that for the last four months we've been pretty much co-sleeping with the new Baby. (although, I will add that my rant was not against the actual practices of attachment parenting so much as the way in which ideological perspective is masked as the "natural" and therefore "morally correct" way to parent. And "don't we have enough to guilt-trip ourselves with, already?" etc., etc..)
From the moment he was born, Baby Boy proved himself to be mellow, smiling, and (treasured above all) a champion sleeper. I have smugly taken credit for this latter quality, making sure this time to not make any of the same mistakes I am pretty sure we committed with Big Brother. For instance, we put him down in the crib awake, and he nestles his head into his carefully selected "lovey" (a fleece blanket) and drifts off unassisted. We are attentive to his need to nap, and never let him stay awake for more than 2 hours. We lay him to sleep before he becomes worked up and tired, and he dutifully smiles up from his swaddle before taking that nap. We have avoided all motion assisted devices to aid sleep such as swings and car-rides, lest we have a complete motion junkie on our hands
(in other words, not as we were: boing-boinging the living daylights out of a bouncy seat as our swaddled First Born drifted off very, very much assisted, only to wake up and protest when we stopped).
When I started bring him into bed with me after that first nightly feeding, it felt completely right. It was a La Leche League success story in the making. He got to feed on demand from about midnight til 6am, and I only had to wake partially to gently bring him to my welcoming bosom. I was positively smug about the fact that I was the mother of a newborn and "No. I'm not sleep deprived actually...Thank You. I feel great" He was sleeping for a good portion of the night in his crib, so we did not need to worry on that score, obviously. Eventually we'd transition him in there once he was waking less in the night. For now we were enjoying the intimacy of the family bed, and my guilt pangs over being away all day were assuaged. Maybe that Sears was on to something....
Needless to say, it hasn't lasted. Nope. For the last few nights, while Baby Boy has been as good as ever about putting himself to sleep and taking naps, the night times are now much less than lovely. Now he is awakening at least every hour; and though not completely waking up he is twitching and kicking like a crazy thing. All the old tricks--swaddling, pacifier, boob in face--are beginning to come up short. It's like being in bed with a small grunting, flailing monkey. Who scratches his face and mummy's boob. So no one is getting any sleep. Not me. Not Daddy. Not him. And we're all pretty foul the next day as a result.
So co-sleeping is not working. Time to put him back in his crib. He likes his crib. He's a self soother. No problem.
Think again.... Even more crying and protest than in our bed. Of course.
If you've been reading this blog for a while or know me, you'll know that I am fundamentally cynical about the plethora of publications put out by "experts" on parenting, pregnancy, and all that other "helpful" information we use to mindfuck ourselves with. I'm definitively of the "whatever works" school of thought when it comes to parenting, as are most of you, I know. However, experience with our first son who was colicky and then deeply sleep-deprived for the first 5 months of his life has made Sleep Nazis out of his father and me. And I've got an extremely dog-eared copy of Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Child to prove it.
I know from our experiences with Big Boy that while listening to your child cry is extremely difficult, this is quickly outweighed when you reap the benefits of a well-rested child and well-rested parents. The transformation of our son was so dramatic that it made stalwart believers of us. And now, 4 years later, even if my son fights us tooth and nail about teeth-cleaning and eating his broccoli, he does go to bed at a reasonable time and can put himself to sleep quite happily. (Pre-Weissbluth, he was either in our arms or being bounced, and pretty much miserable all the time. He slept for half hour increments, and it was deadly. Post-Weissbluth he slept for 12-14 hours a night and took several 2-3 hour naps a day. He was transformed literally overnight into Sunshine Boy)
Last night I fell back into that old and familiar ritual of gripping my dog-eared copy of Weissbluth, and reading passages over and over again as our Baby began to cry on his first waking (one hour after being fed). Reassuring myself that by letting our Baby cry instead of going to him each time he awakes we are Doing The Right Thing. That he needs to learn to sleep through arousals, and to unlearn that Mummy's obliging boob will be there each time he wakes. That this is for his own good.
I keep telling and telling and telling myself this, as I fight back tears of exhaustion and guilt. I keep telling and telling and telling myself this as I lay in my own bed and cover my head with the covers to muffle the cries. I keep telling and telling and telling myself this while each one of those cries tightens my chest even more. But in the end, all I can say is "I'm sorry, I'm sorry, I'm sorry" and join in his tears.....
So. Uhm. That's where I'm at right now. Sleep deprived and writing posts with overwrought endings as a direct result (I would revise to tone it down, but who has the energy?). The fact of the matter is that our mellow boy surprised us last night with just how much stamina he had for wailing--on and off for one hour at one stage. And this pretty much punctuated the whole night. It was awful. Please, if you have any similar stories or words of wisdom, do share. I could use a boost. I need the village.
(But if you are angling to reprimand me or call me names, please would you mind waiting until the Baby's sleeping through the night. I'm too exhausted to debate anyone right now...)
(not that I don't respect people if they have differing opinions on this...)
(agh. never mind)