I am tired and want nothing more than to put my feet up, eat dinner, and enjoy some smooth Bailey’s Irish Cream. The day’s highlight? I was asked for ID when I bought the Bailey’s at the liquor store! Other than that happy moment, it’s been a long and tiring day. There’s nothing like having to work on a beautiful sunny Saturday instead of joining your hubby and son for an enjoyable day at the market and bookstore.
It’s 9:37 pm. I should be realxing to the sounds of peaceful nothingness. Or maybe just the sounds of Jack cooking dinner. And soft lullabies coming from the CD player in the nursery. But instead, Sam is in his jumper just four feet away fom me. He’s jumping up and down furiously, taking full advantage of this last push of energy for the day. The noise of the attached toys and especially the springs seems to grow louder and louder. Now it’s 9:43. Wow! He’s really getting some air between his toes and the floor!
I suppose that some might insist that I’m too lenient, I’m allowing bad habits, or that I’m not showing him who is in control. He’s 10 months old; of course he’s in control. Although perhaps “control” is not the right word. As a young whippersnapper, I always resisted the idea of being controlled myself, and I don’t feel any great need to “control” Sam. Plenty of advice givers from the great pool of *They* would advise me to put Sam in his crib and let him “cry it out” to sleep. It’s 9:48. He doesn’t seem to be slowing down.
So my options are 1) Place Sam, who is wide awake and full of energy, into his crib and his energy will drain from screaming. Granted, perhaps it is our fault that he is wide awake. Scheduling for the day was off, bath-time got started very late, etc. I suppose sleep-training proponents might argue that there wouldn’t be any screaming because by 10 months old, Sam would know better than to pointlessly scream. Oh wait, but he would still be filled with unspent energy then, wouldn’t he?
He paused in his jumping…it’s 9:54. Maybe he’s done… nope, there he goes again, still jumping.
Option 2) Place Sam in his jumper. He’s happy. He’s using up that energy. He’s tiring himself out. Sure, the noise from the springs is loud and annoying, but not nearly as awful to listen to as screaming and crying would be. Once he’s done jumping, I’ll give him some more milk, put him to bed, turn those soft lullabies on, and most likely he’ll fall asleep before long. This option seems like a win-win situation for tonight. Then tomorrow I’ll try to do a better job of physical play and meals and evening scheduling, etc.
With such a choice analysis, I’m not sure why I would even consider option #1 cry in crib. Except of course that that is what *they* say I should be doing. (There’s always a faceless, anonymous They to be telling you what you ought to be doing). At least I’m fortunate enough to have some friends who also eschew the Ferber sleep training method. I have to say though, when I first heard about it Sam was only maybe 6 weeks old. I was informed by a friend to start sleep training at 3 months. I thought I would, because I thought that was what you did. It sounded like a good idea; make bedtime a smooth and quiet affair. My husband, Jack, was the one to refuse Ferber methods right from the start, saying that we could still have a happy baby that would sleep at night even without being trained. I’m glad he did. We’ve definitely seen our share of some difficult nights. And as I write that, I think to myself that “difficult” is an understatement. There were a few nights that I wondered if I would have to resort to letting Sam cry it out. But those aren’t common. For the most part, Sam’s bedtime is very pleasant for all involved.
It’s 10:07. He’s definitely slowing down. Now I can feed him and hopefully he’ll sleep. Then I can proofread this blog, publish it, and maybe figure out how I can get spammers to stop showing up in my site stats. Oh yeah- and grab a glass, pour a drink, and savor some smooth and sweet Baileys Irish Cream.
And then your four-month-old baby boy fusses and cries.
I tried to block out Sam’s cries as best as I could. My husband tried to soothe and quiet him and coax him to sleep. Sam finally fell asleep at 10 o’clock; I fell asleep several minutes later. I had to be at the testing center by 8 AM, so that meant waking early enough to be up and dressed, eaten breakfast, nursed Sam, and a 40 minute drive. Even going to sleep at 10, it would still have been fine. Not an ideal amount of sleep, but I certainly could have managed.
But I woke up again at 3 in the morning. I think Sam was making those cute little baby snuffling sleepy sounds that babies make. They used to wake me up instantly during those first few months. Sam fell right back to sleep, but now I was awake. Wide awake. I believe with conviction that one of the hardest things you can do is force yourself to sleep. I’ve been an insomnia sufferer for years. It got much better after buying a luxurious new mattress about five years ago, but it still strikes occasionally. Lying there in the dark, my thoughts were so sharply on the test that there was no way I was going to be able to fall back asleep. As I lied there awake and miserable, the more distressed I became. The more distressed I became, the more difficult it was to sleep. As the red numbers kept changing on the clock, the more distressed I became. It was a vicious circle. I awoke at 3 AM. I never was able to get back to sleep.
Jack drove me to the testing site. I cried most of the way. I cried with exhaustion. I cried with despair. I cried with defeat. And I hadn’t even taken the test yet. They walked in with me. I held Sam tightly and hugged him. Hug a baby for luck, I told myself. Then I took the test. I felt frazzled and unfocused the whole time. I made a lot of guesses, some of them random. Like a few times the words seemed to be hazy on the page; those were random guesses. I was so tremendously fatigued. I didn’t even manage to fill in all of the circles. On the LSAT, you are not penalized for wrong answers; you only rack up points with correct answers. It is always in your best interest to fill in all the remaining circles even if you have no time to read the questions.
When I saw Jack drive up, I climbed into the front seat quietly. He asked how it went. I said, “I don’t want to talk about it.” Let me make clear, I was not using the tone of voice that says that I really do want to talk about it. I didn’t say another word the whole drive. I think I might have cried quietly. At home I went into our bedroom, climbed into bed, and pulled the blankets way up.
Sam started fussing again. I didn’t care. Jack could take care of him. I certainly didn’t harbor one ounce of negative emotion towards the baby at all; I just didn’t have any strength, physical or emotional, to take care of him at that point. So, Jack could take care of him. Except that Sam wouldn’t calm down. Perhaps he could sense the miasma of depression and failure in the air. Or maybe he just had gas. Either way, Jack knew that I needed to be left alone, I needed to rest, and that I did not need to be hearing Sam crying. The usual, feeding, burping, rocking, etc. wasn’t working. So desperate Jack—who hates pacifiers(see Battle of the Binky Part I)—gave Sam a pacifier. The effect was instantaneous; Sam calmed down, his face relaxed, and he fell asleep – with the pacifier. Just a one-time occurrence? Or was this the beginning of the slippery slope of pacifier dependence?
(I was awakened when Sam started stirring from his nap. I picked him up, and he gave me one of his sweet smiles. And I smiled. My boy could make me smile on one of the worst days of my life. That was pretty incredible. I was in a funk for days, but it was so much lighter than it would have been if it had not been for playing and laughing with Sam.)