Friday, January 30, 2009

Mean Mommy... I Don't Think So

Last night around 3:30 AM Henry woke up like clockwork. Doesn't matter how much he eats, when he last eats, or what time he goes to bed... 3:30 he will wake up. And start screaming. As you can imagine, "3:30 AM Mindy" is delighted to wake up the instant it starts, and realize that Ron is continuing to sleep soundly (until I start talking about it or sigh loudly to drag him into my pity party). I have agreed that the middle-of-the-night duties are usually mine alone, since Ron gets up early and teaches 150 teenagers all day. But "3:30 AM Mindy" sometimes wakes him up a little anyway... He could sleep through anything.

Now I know why a lot of people disagree with this approach, and I respect every mother's / parent's decision to do what they feel is best for their child, and meet their physical and emotional needs, which nobody knows better than you what that is. However, last night I decided to meet Henry's need of teaching him how to fall asleep without me feeding him. I know he is big enough not to require food for survival in the middle of the night. I was tired, he wasn't screaming quite as insanely loud as usual, and I though, "hey, why not tonight?". I checked the clock: 3:35.

For the next 40 minutes he cried, kind of like a "yelling" type of cry. That slowed down and I watched the clock anxiously, hoping not to hit the 1-hour mark. He stopped crying completely for about 5 minutes and I thought we were in the clear when he started up again. I went in and soothed him a bit without taking him out of the crib (less than 30 seconds) and went back to bed. One more time doing that and he was out again ... the whole process did take a little over an hour, but wasn't too terrible (5:00 was the last time I looked at the clock before I fell back asleep). It's now going on 8:30 and he's still asleep (I checked on him though, and he's okay).

We did this with Lucy around 5 months old and of course it's no fun to listen to your baby cry (and now we have the added fear of hoping Lucy doesn't wake up too, and we're all in adjacent bedrooms). However, I do remember how successful this was with her, and that I always wished I would have done it sooner! I don't think it traumatizes a child, because eventually they have to realize that they are safe and can fall back asleep on their own. Henry has been in his crib at night since he was a few days old. Oh yeah, and Lucy never got up. If she woke up, she went back to sleep on her own.

I hope it doesn't sound like we are cold, callous parents who are selfishly looking out for our own needs, because we are like any other parents, who love our children more than life itself and want nothing more than for them to be safe and happy. Anyone who knows us well knows how much we have sacrificed of our own "needs" to be the best parents we know how to be. I have known many people who use the Ferber (cry-it-out) method to teach their kids to sleep through the night. I know their kids are perfectly happy, well-adjusted, and feel loved and protected. I have known some really lucky ones whose kids do it without any method implemented at all. I also know some parents who get up with their kid to feed, nurse, rock, whatever, for several months to a year, or longer, and they are more than happy to do it. Whatever works for you. I am just ready to reclaim my full-night's sleep, and I actually think Henry will benefit from a full night's sleep as well, since he only takes a couple naps during the day.

Sorry to our neighbors who I think are on the same baby monitor channel.... he he he.


Katie said...

I don't think you're a mean mommy! Just a mommy who needs to be able to sleep through the night in order to keep up with her kids during the day :)

Chris Winkler said...

Certainly not a mean mommy at all...but one who's looking out for the well-being of herself and her family! We're gleaning as many stories and examples as we can, so this is all helpful...I'm passing it along to Christie. Thanks, Mindy.

Dykema's said...

As you already know, I completely agree with you and know that you love your kids more than anything! I commend you for sticking with it, I don't think our kids were persistent enough to cry that long! Hopefully he'll learn quickly!