When I was going through my worst bout of post-partum depression, I met with my midwife. She was kind enough to disclose that she, herself, had suffered from post-partum depression that had been made worse by her son’s terrible sleeping habits. She had pushed off the idea of sleep-training until he was 11 months old and then she had gotten into such a state of sleep deprivation, that she did 2 nights of ‘cry it out’ with her son, a total of 20 minutes each night and BOOM he was, overall, a good sleeper after that.
I thought it would never happen to me. Potamus is always held or rocked or comforted back to sleep by patting or bouncing on the exercise ball or nursing. But there has been quite a few nights lately, where he is “awake” in the middle of the night for 3-4 hours, refusing to be bounced, not interested in nursing for very long, but CLEARLY tired. While he motors around the house he rubs his eyes, whines, cries, and rubs his eyes some more.
Last night I had enough.
I have had one five hour stretch of sleep in the last 9 months, and that happened 3 days ago. The rest of the time has been spending my nights with 2-2.5 stretches at a time, because Potamus was reverse cycling. The last few days, he has been up every hour all night long. He is tired. I am tired. But I don’t want to stop bed-sharing just yet, and crying it out doesn’t seem all that conducive when the crying person is in bed with you (let alone, crying it out has triggered ideas of abandoning babies in nurseries while they wait to be put up for adoption and are only left to be cared for by nurses).
But, at 3am this morning, I had had enough. He was clearly tired. Boof was tired, and has been pulling long hours sitting in the living room in the middle of the night so that I can try and sleep. And so, I let him lay there between us. And I patted his back. And he cried. And wailed. And cried. And I thought I was going to die, or punch the wall, or tear my hair out. Most others talk about crying-it-out in similar ways, but their babies are in cribs in other rooms and they can go to the farthest reach of the house and get away from it.
It was the longest 15 minutes. And then he was quiet, with eyes half-open, and then he rolled onto his side and snuggled up to me.
And four hours later he woke up, hungry.
I don’t know if I will keep doing it, but it seemed to work. We all got more sleep. I didn’t abandon my baby or my instincts of bed-sharing, and being right there to comfort him. And I am thankful for the midwife’s story, which somehow gave me permission last night, to be the best mom I could…and let my baby sleep.
But I admit, after he fell asleep, a few tears of my own were shed. I guess I had my own cry it out night…