About two weeks ago we started putting Leta to sleep in her crib and leaving her there for the duration of the night. This “experiment” has produced mixed results as some nights I am walking to her bedroom over 20 times to soothe her back to sleep or to plop that goddamn binky back in her face. I know some of you think I’m insane and that I need to let her cry it out or whatever and that it worked for you and if I could give you a cookie right now I totally would. Hurray for you! You should run for president.
My personal belief, meaning the one I have for me and my baby, not for you and your baby or for anyone else’s baby, is that Leta is not yet old enough to learn sleeping techniques. This belief is backed up by a book that I’ve been reading which talks about training your baby to sleep once she is biologically ready to start learning. It was the only literature I could find that would tell me what to do with a baby Leta’s age, and that is to live with her sleeping habits as best I can. She’s not yet ready to cry it out.
When she is ready, however, I will have to give her a crash course in sleeping through the night, and I am certain it will be the hardest thing I have ever done in my life. It was hard enough to put her back in her crib two weeks ago when we decided that I shouldn’t bring her back to bed with me after her first nightly feeding. It was my favorite part of the day, getting back into bed with her under my left arm, her soft furry hair brushing my chin, the smell of her head lulling me to sleep. It was beautiful and natural and magical, and then she started grunting and shooting firecrackers out of her ass. Sleeping directly next to the loudest baby on the planet proved nearly impossible.
So I started putting her back into her crib after the first feeding, and the first time I did it I cried all the way back to my bed, like I had just sent her off to college and she wasn’t answering my calls. But that was the first time Jon was able to sleep over five hours in a row, and since we made that decision he has consistently collected multiple hours of sleep, and that means he’s well rested enough that he can change more diapers and rub my feet and make me pop tarts. I’m still only sleeping in about two hour spurts because I am the feeder and official binky-putter-back-inner, but now I have pop tarts and rubbed feet and the world is once again okay.
Jon and I had decided before Leta was born that we didn’t want to have a family bed. It’s not that we think a family bed is wrong or bad, it’s just that we don’t want our 17 year old daughter sleeping between us, and if we did the family bed thing, that’s exactly what would happen. I’m already fighting the dog for covers, I don’t want a three year old kicking me in the crotch when I’m sound asleep.
Right now I am trying to set a nap schedule for Leta as outlined in the book I mentioned above, and this means getting her to nap for two hours at a time at specific hours during the day. She is taking to the routine remarkably well, and my god, how much happier is a well rested baby! There is one piece of advice the book cannot point out enough, and I don’t know why they don’t tell you this in the hospital or why no one ever mentioned this to me, so I’m going to tell you just in case you ever plan on having a baby and you’re wondering why she is crying like someone is pulling her ears off her head: babies should not be awake for more than two hours at a time.
Let me say that again just in case you didn’t get it: BABIES SHOULD NOT BE AWAKE FOR MORE THAN TWO HOURS AT A TIME.
Once Leta wakes up, whether it be in the morning or from one of her naps, I set my watch and make sure that I am getting her back to sleep before the two hour mark. Otherwise the party is TOTALLY OVER. If she goes even one minute over than two hour mark neither Jon nor I can console the beast that rages out of her screaming, violent limbs, and the switchover from beauty to beast is almost instantaneous. Until I read this book I couldn’t understand why, after being awake for SIX HOURS, Leta’s head was spinning around and crocodiles were crawling out of her mouth.
In the next six weeks I will begin the dreaded sleep training that involves me walking away from my baby and letting her soothe herself back to sleep. Some of you will think that I am cruel for taking this approach and others of you will be saying About damn time! This is a decision Jon and I have made together, one we have read and studied on, one we feel is best for our child. I know it is going to be hard, and Jon will probably have to physically sit on top of me to keep me from going back into her room, but I won’t be there when, during her first night at Harvard on her full paid academic scholarship, her binky falls out and she needs someone to put it back in.