A while back, I wrote a Controversy Wednesday post on CRYING IT OUT which attracted some attention, not all of it positive. You may remember my follow-up post entitled “Apology Thursday: I WAS WRONG” in which I begged forgiveness for being a know-it-all about sleep and included a photo of myself at my most haggard as a peace offering. Incredibly, this is the most-read post of all time on Higher Highs, Lower Lows, according to my analytics. This tells me that you all are a bunch of sick puppies who like to watch others suffer.
Anyway, I’m here again to say that I was wrong. Wait, scratch that. I wasn’t wrong so much as I was an arrogant nincompoop. And here’s why: Seabass is having what we’ll euphamistically call “sleep issues.”
About a month ago, the little dude – who up until this point had been the portrait of restedness (is that a word?) – decided to stop taking his afternoon nap. He would happily take his morning nap from 9am until about 11:30am or later, but at 1pm, could not fall asleep for his scheduled afternoon siesta. At first, I thought it was a fluke. But after a few weeks of this, it had become a habit, and I was – AM – pulling my hair out.
I e-mailed my go-to girl for sleep, Deb Pedrick, with www.familysleep.com. “Try waking him from his morning nap at 11am and putting him back down at 1pm,” she said. “Let’s allow him to be a little tired so he really wants it later.” I did as I was told, and it worked! For two days. Then Seabass was back to crying/babbling/screaming for the hour I allotted him to be in his crib. I wrote Deb again.
“Okay, let’s try waking him up at 10am now,” she wrote, intrepidly. “If he’s only had one hour of morning sleep he should want it by the afternoon.” So, once again, I did as I was told, and it worked! For two days. By this time, I was getting pretty tired of waking a peacefully sleeping baby only to have him cranky for the remaining eight hours before bedtime.
“I can’t keep waking him,” I wrote Deb. “I’m not getting anything done because he’s hardly ever asleep. So I’m going to let him sleep as long as he wants in the morning, give him a shot at sleeping in the afternoon, but not push it.” Deb said that was fine, especially since Seabass’ night sleep was super consolidated and luscious at 12 glorious hours every night.
So, that was the plan this past weekend, and all was well. Until Seabass awoke at 11pm last night and didn’t stop crying until I went into him at 12:15am.
Now, look. Generally speaking, I am really confident in the “cry-it-out” method. Every night when I put Seabass to sleep, I look at him and wordlessly say, “I’ll see you at 6am, buddy,” as in “I won’t be seeing you any earlier.” And this has worked wonders for both his own sleep and ours. Nine nights out of ten, he’s silent as a mouse.
But every great once in a while, he wakes in the night and cries like it’s going out of style, and last night was one such occasion. When I realized he’d been awake for over an hour, I went in and scooped that little dumpling into my arms. I think he was a little surprised, like, “Whoa! You’ve never done this before!” but it didn’t stop him from crying intermittently for the next hour or so, even with me rocking him. He didn’t have a fever, and there was no other obvious reason for his discontent. The only thing I could imagine was that he had another tooth coming in.
I am very, very, very protective of my sleep because a well-rested mommy means a patient, happy, playful mommy. But in the wee hours last night, I held my precious little boy and enjoyed the act of soothing him just by being near. His crying eventually tapered off, his movements became more calm, and his eyelids drooped. He never fully fell asleep while I was there, but when I lay him back down in his crib, he cried for only a moment before finally falling silent. I, on the other hand, was awake much longer trying to fall back asleep.
Why is it that, despite having missed three total hours of sleep last night, Seabass was still up bright and early at 6:30am? It makes no sense, but since when was making sense a baby’s modus operandi? In any case, as I slithered out of bed to start the day this morning, I noticed no resentment that I’d lost valuable sleep last night. In fact, my thoughts were only of Seabass, hoping he was doing better since the last time I’d seen him and looking forward to his shining, rosy-cheeked face. It struck me that I was comfortable in my role as caregiver, that maybe I’m finally growing into this whole motherhood thing, 10 months later.