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Sunday, August 7, 2011

Reluctantly Crying-It-Out

And yet another post inspired by an anonymous commenter . . .

Crying it out is a funny thing. People in my Mom and, even more so, my Grandma's generation, have actually expressed concern that I am TOO responsive to james. Even as a wee wee one, the word spoiled did float around the room.

In my opinion, that is ridiculous. While you can't spoil a one-month old baby, you can bet that they aren't crying for no reason either (unless you are lucky enough to have a colicky one). But until the world of teething came along, my james did not cry for no reason. People think it's funny that he doesn't even cry when he wakes up. LOL. I know how long he sleeps for and I pay attention to him, so he rarely needs to cry when he wakes up.

And when he was one, two, three months old, I very rarely left him to fuss or cry for more than a min (because I never needed to). If he was crying, there was a reason. Which nursing could usually solve 99% of the time.

But now he's 8.5 months old. And he screams if I take away a toy that he likes. And when he does fuss, or even scream, for a few mins when I strap him into his swing, it's for the same reason. He doesn't want to go to sleep. He wants to play, and he wants to play with me. He isn't hungry or wet or neglected--he is just not getting what he wants.

And when I pictured myself as a parent, I pictured myself gently nursing my baby to sleep until he dozed off, and then sneaking out of the room. Well, my baby doesn't do that. He won't sleep unless he is strapped down, so, in the swing, carseat, or stroller. If he is able to move, he is moving. Only once recently have I woken up before him and gotten to see him wake up (in the bed with us). And I SWEAR he started crawling before his eyes opened. So he will NOT nurse down. He will NOT be rocked to sleep, he will NOT sleep if he can see me. He will not sleep unless he is strapped down, and alone.

So where do I find myself then? I work hard to make sure he does not get over-tired, I keep him on a strict schedule, I do a nap routine every time, and then, yes, I fuss it out. And on days when I'm exhausted, and feel drained and stressed, and the baby is having a fussy day? Sometimes I even cry it out.

I hate it. I totally hate it. I WISH WISH WISH I had a baby that would nurse down or be rocked to sleep. But I don't. And I do NOT think that CIO is evil, and if it is, damn it, it's a necessary evil at my house or my baby would never sleep. I will very much hope that my next baby will be calmer and want to snuggle and nap with me and be nursed down and all the sweet things that other breastfeeding co-sleeping Moms do to put their babies to sleep, but . . . this baby won't do it.

I have had a post in mind for a long time about how much of a difference there REALLY is between crying-it-out and not crying-it-out. I mean, even a hardcore CIO parent wouldn't leave a kid to SCREAM for more than a few mins, I would think (unless the parent is, you know, about to snap, in which case, all bets are off), and I would think that even the most hardcore attachment parents SOMETIMES need a mental break and have to leave a kid to cry for a few minutes (right? I mean, SOMETIMES?)?

I mean, come on, I think a lot of parenting decisions are made out of desperation. Yes I'm there crying on my kitchen floor while my baby is crying upstairs. But screams turned to coos within a few mins, and then he did eventually fall asleep. And when he woke up, I felt rejuvenated in dealing with him. Which I needed to feel.

So if that makes me an awful person, ah well. As my hubby pointed out recently, james still loves me more than anything, so I guess I'm doing something right.


Lauren said...

So I think we all have our concerns and struggles with our babies, A. Having to strap down J must absolutely suck and I cannot imagine what you have to deal with. Dylan does nurse down, but he will ONLY nurse down. Meaning, he will not go to sleep unless he is in his car seat or on the boob. And while this is nice at first, it means that once my boob leaves his mouth he is awake. So all night long, he nurses. If my boob is not in his mouth, he wakes up. While nursing and bed sharing is wonderful and I love love love it, it also stresses me the hell out. What would happen if I ever had to go to the hospital? Or when we want to have another baby? Will he ever sleep alone? When can I turn over and just sleep? I cannot go out at night because he won't take a bottle. He is mine 24 hours a day (and night). I think the bottom line is that parenting (and especially being a mom) is fucking hard. But we are great moms, you and me, and we'll figure it out. I love you.

justadrienne said...

Aww Lauren I love you too! Thanks for sharing your struggles, too . . . you're right, every situation has it's upsides and downsides . . . (((HUGS))) Hopefully as Dylan gets older he'll be a little more flexible.

Ella said...

Adrienne, you and baby james are the perfect example that every baby is different and there is NO ONE WAY to parent! We all know that you - of all people - would never willingly CHOOSE to make james CIO to "sleep train" him (which, I know you are still not doing even though he is fussing to sleep), and so that just goes to show that what you are doing is exactly what HE needs... not just what YOU need or want from him (though of course that factors in - it is sometimes hard to separate these two things with moms and babies!). I don't think I'm explaining myself very well... but anyway, you are doing what he needs and what you need to be a good mama. You are not evil, you are not a bad mom, you are JAMES' mom and therefore only YOU know what HE needs.

And, apparently, Lauren and I should chat, 'cuz we have exactly the same baby, haha. Eliza has only EVER nursed to sleep and would not could not has never ONCE fallen asleep after fussing/crying... she just screams on and on and gets wayyyyy too upset. She's definitely a tension increaser (you've read that article, right? It's really interesting and it sounds like james is definitely a tension decreaser). THUS, we have been co-sleeping and nursing all night long since she was born and I don't see an end in sight... soooo, from my end I'm sort of jealous that james will go to sleep on his own!! :)

Here's that article if you haven't read it:

Ash said...

I know exactly where you are coming from! Teddy cannot sleep with us- he literally will fight sleep for hours, and I am not exaggerating!He will play and fuss and whatever else but he will not sleep! I think as Ella and Lauren have mentioned babies can be SO different that sometimes it can be really hard to imagine having a baby who would behave differently especially if it is your first. I also think sometimes it comes down to semantics- CIO sounds a lot worse then- going to great lengths to keep baby from becoming overtired, doing a long calm down/get sleepy routine, trying to put baby to bed drowsy, and then letting baby fuss for a little bit if baby doesn't fall right asleep- BUT I think for most of us who do end up doing some form of CIO this is what we are doing.

You also might want to consider trying a crib out- Teddy loves his, I think he really feels like it is his little house/private area, and he sleeps so much better in it then anywhere else. I think he also likes feeling a little contained if that makes sense.

I also second the link Ella posted if you haven't read it. It really made sense for us:)

Hang in there you are doing a great job! I also always though Teddy's big smiles in the morning and lack of bags under his eyes because he was no longer crazy over-tired showed that I was doing something right!

Ash said...

Here is a link to the tension decreasers which probably pertains more to James

Marilyn said...

you know what is best for james and if that is how you get him to sleep, that is what you have to do! things obviously dont' always turn out how we think they will and thats ok. LOVE YOU can't wait to see you and J and other bigger J

Megan said...

My gut reaction to CIO is to totally avoid it, especially in infants (the focus of my studies in college was cognition and cognitive development, and the whole lack-of and development-of object permanence is a large part in the reason that I do not advocate it for infants), BUT I have also left my babies to CIO at one point or another when I simply could NOT handle any more. I didn't CIO with my first till she was close to a year old, because there was really no need to until then - at that point my husband had been recalled to active duty after 3 years of being on inactive status with the Marine Corps, and I was in my last semester of college. I couldn't spend 1hr+ getting her to sleep for naps and bedtime while working part-time, going to college full-time and being a single parent. And she was a pretty easy baby besides that. I HATED CIO with my second because she had very bad GERD and I was terrified that she would go into one of her choking, turning blue episodes. She is the type that when she would start to cry, she wouldn't stop. But I had to do it with her sometimes too because I felt like I was going to lose my damned mind trying to get two kids out of the house for appointments, classes, etc.

Anyway, what I'm trying to say is that even those of us who are diametrically opposed to CIO even resort to it sometimes. You can't always practice an ideal 100%, in my experience. We are only human.

(And yes, I do know a mom who puts in earplugs at night from the point that her babies are very, very tiny - think 1-2 months old - so unfortunately those people do exist who just let their babies scream for hours on end.)

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