An unfiltered fire hose of flaming condemnation

I think the metaphor here is “cycles”

To set up this post I’d like for you to imagine me wearing a helmet and sitting underneath my desk in an attempt to avoid the rocks and sharp objects and possibly dirty panties that will be aimed straight at my face. Because there are few other topics that divide parents as much as the one I’m going to bring up. It’s kind of like politics and religion, things you don’t bring up in mixed company, except instead of being called a heathen or elitist liberal scum you’re going to be known as a baby killer.

Internet, when Leta was five months old, we let her cry herself to sleep. Hello, my name is Heather, and I am a baby killer.

I wrote about it a few times and was told in no uncertain terms that when I die and am standing at the judgment bar of God that he will not bring up all those times I had sex before I was married, or that handful of times I smoked pot and got so paranoid that I locked myself in a closet (the police wouldn’t look in there!), or the fact that I find Bill Clinton really sexy, no. God is going to shake his head and ask me why I didn’t love my baby. And then I’d be sentenced to share a bunk with John Gotti in a cell next to the public toilets in Hell.

The sleep thing with Leta was a really complicated issue. She wouldn’t nurse during the day, and she’d catnap at night, waking every thirty to forty-five minutes to eat in an attempt to make up for all the eating she didn’t do during the day. And she was colicky, liked to scream and scream and then scream some more. Also, she refused to be held or comforted in any way. So it really wasn’t a matter of whether or not I loved my baby. It was okay, we’ve tried everything short of placing her in a basket and setting it afloat in a river with a note attached that said WILL BITE IF PROVOKED.

So we let her cry it out, and it was really hard, and I might have done more crying than she did. But when it was over she slept through the night, again and again and again. And she’s been a great sleeper ever since with the usual hiccups here and there during transitional or stressful periods. Even now, we read a book and then she goes to sleep at 7:30 PM. Every night. And very rarely she will bring up those nights when she cried and I didn’t come to get her:

“Why didn’t you come when I cried, mom?”

“Because I didn’t love you, Leta.”

Like I said in the video, my philosophy is that you do what you have to do to make you and your family a functional unit. Whatever works. I wanted to co-sleep with Leta, but she wanted none of it. And so when Marlo was born I decided that I would just go with the flow, watch her cues and not force anything. And so far it’s worked out phenomenally, and she has taken the lead, although already she is breaking my heart. (P.S. KIDS SUCK)

First we slept together, I nursed and she fell asleep on my body, and that continued for several weeks. But then she made it clear that she’d rather sleep on the bed beside me. And then she was like, you know what? I don’t like it here beside you, either. I’d like my own space, thank you very much. So we put her in a co-sleeper beside the bed. And that worked for several weeks, until she started to wake up every hour which, although totally maddening, turned out to be her way of saying, Mother, I’d like my own room. And how about a cell phone with unlimited texting.

And that’s where we are. She goes down at about 6:30 PM in her nursery, wakes at about 2 AM to eat, and then wakes for the day at 7AM. We sleep with a monitor in our room, and when she stirs I get up and walk to her room to feed her. I don’t mind this at all, in fact I love those moments together alone with her in the silence and warmth of her room. And after I put her back down and walk back to our room I marvel at how lucky we are this time. Because that’s exactly what it is: luck.

And I didn’t think I was going to bring this up, I was just going to plow through this entry and get it up and then maybe go outside and breathe a bit, but it makes so much sense now. The life and the beauty and the luck of Marlo, a kid who looks just like my Granny Boone when she smiles, my Granny who died about an hour ago. That’s a whole other post I will get to when I pull it together, but I’m just now overwhelmed at the juxtaposition of life and death, even in an entry about getting my rotten kids to sleep. Yes, rotten and wonderful, all of it, the push and pull, the agony and joy and work of what it means to be a part of a family.

Granny Boone

  • Stacey

    I’m so sorry for your loss, Heather.

  • m.

    In keeping with your central metaphor, sincere condolences for your loss, and sincere congratulations on your luck. You have a beautiful family, Heather. All the best to you.

  • Anonymous

    I am really sorry about your Granny. And I say good for you, for following your girls’ cues and finding a routine that works for the family.

  • Jen

    Beautifully put, Heather, and I’m so sorry about the loss of your Granny.

  • Holy crimeny, Heather. A big hug to you. I’m teary.

  • I’m sorry to hear about your Granny. My sympathies.

    On a lighter note…. I like your ‘do what you gotta do’ approach. I sometimes think Moms pressure themselves to do whatever the latest book/trend/news report tells them rather than react to each kid and situation uniquely and organically. Wow… that’s sounds so granola!

  • I’m so sorry for your loss, Heather.

  • Laura-Lu

    I say let them Cry it out, Whatever works for you!

    I am also deeply sorry about Granny Boone, she looks like the type of Gal I would love to pull up a chair to and talk with for a while…and than hug alot.

  • Anonymous

    Lost my mother in 2004 and had my first child in 2008. Finn’s sleep patterns were like a blend of Leta and Marlo, both colicky and a child who told me in no uncertain terms at 4 months that enough was enough and she wanted me to put her the fuck down in her own bed. At 6 months she wanted her own room. And there isn’t a day that goes by that I don’t wish that my mother was here to share in my daughter’s life. My heart goes out to your family.

  • Anonymous

    I am so very sorry for the loss of your sweet Granny Boone. What a blessing she got to meet Marlo. And congrats on the parenting stuff… I am a big fan of whatever works for each family. Thanks for adding your voice to this issue!

  • Sparkless

    I’m sorry to hear about your grandmother.

    Marlo does sound like the perfect baby and you are right you are so dang lucky!

  • God’s Peace to your Granny Boone as her soul is lifted up to heaven. Your grief, and your insight into the joys and sorrows of life is fabulous.

  • Claire

    So sorry to read about your Granny. I admire your guts for keeping it together and posting on such a controversial (but why should it be controversial darn it?) topic at such a time. Been reading this blog for a while and love the way you write.

    Claire, soon to be mother of 3

  • Shannon

    So sorry for the loss of your Granny.

  • Lorrie

    I’ve never commented in all the years I’ve been coming here, but I want you to know my thoughts are with you. Much love from Texas…

  • Anonymous

    Very very sorry for your loss. Big hugzz to you and your family.

  • I’m sorry about your granny…really. We all have to go through it, and it is never easy and always stings. SO glad she got to meet your sweet Marlo though 🙂

  • Andrew McConnachie

    Condolences from Toronto.

  • Jonathan

    Oh, Heather. So, so, sorry about your granny, who looks like she was a really wonderful lady. Hugs to you.

  • Jennifer

    Love you girl! You are a wonderful person. Your Granny was beautiful.

  • I am really enjoying your posts that are more sentimental, there I am sorry, I said it. I also enjoy that you crack some good humor and don’t get to gooey on us.

    Also, I just assumed every sane parent had to let kids cry it out. So I guess, once I have my baby, and my heart breaks while he or she cries it out I will also have a good laugh knowing I am going to join you and Gotti in a special part of hell.

  • Sorry to hear about your Granny Boone, Heather. I can imagine how you must be feeling, but it’s not quite the same. The mix of sorrow and joy from seeing the two ends of life meet up is hard to describe but you convey it well. My thoughts are with you and your family at this time, and I hope you will all find the support and peace you need.

    On a side note, I was going to say that Cory Doctorow recommended 12 Hours Sleep by 12 Weeks Old (and of course, had the usual brigade of people telling him he was harming Poesy, despite the fact that she is in the top percentiles for weight and health and whatnot). But a lot of the advice contained therein seems to what you and Marlo are doing already. Best of luck there.

  • Jacmo

    Your family is in our thoughts.

  • Leigh

    I’m so sorry for the loss of your grandmother. You are doing everything right and that’s what matters. I think you and your family are outrageously beautiful.

  • My grandfather died in June and I know my grandmother is not far behind…it makes me so sad to realize my kids (future tense as I hear you have to have some sort of relationship to produce them) will never know either of them. They are incredible people, and I totally feel for your loss.

  • k

    I am sorry for the loss of your grandmother. 🙁

  • Chrissy

    I’m sorry for your loss Heather. You really captured your Granny Boone’s spirit in that photo.

  • Jenny

    My heart goes out to you and your family, Heather!

  • Amy

    I am so sorry for the loss of your Granny.

    I also subscribe to the “whatever works” philosophy for kids and their sleep habits…I have not used the same technique for any of my three children. Their personalities, and the amount I could handle at the time for each of them has been totally different.

    Good for you.

  • janet jackson

    i’m sorry, heather. i wish i could give you a hug.

  • christa

    Oh, such a sweet photo of Granny Boone! May she rest in peace.

    Did Leta really ask about being left to cry (how did she remember??)? I ask because I wonder how I would explain that to my own daughter, whom we let cry at 6 months (pure agony!) On that note, how do you explain to her how “sad” you felt after she was born? This is something I’ve been thinking a lot about lately, as my mother always used to tell me that she never, ever felt anything but love towards us kids and was always glad to have had us, but my experience now is that a lot of mothers who truly love their children deal with intrusive, horrible thoughts as a result of post-partum depression. So how do they answer the question, “Did you ever wish you hadn’t had me?”

  • Jess F.

    I am so sorry, Heather. I am about to take a flight to Milwaukee to say goodbye to my grandma, who is very ill. I’ll be sending love and support your way.

  • Your grandmother looks like she was a beautiful woman, and I love the look on her face in the photo as she holds the baby.

    As for letting babies cry themselves to sleep, when my kids were little back in the 70s and 80s we were advised by the pediatrician to do just that. Neither my son or daughter grew up to be permanently scarred by it. And all this having babies in your bed kind of scares me, I wouldn’t be able to sleep at all in fear of squishing them or something.

  • I’m so sorry, Heather.

  • Kelly

    I’m very sorry for your loss, Heather. My prayers are with you and your family =(

  • Lindsey

    Fuck, Heather, I hate it when you make me cry at work! Makes me look like an idiot…

    I am so sorry about your Granny Boone! The picture of her holding Marlo is priceless. I am glad they got to meet.

  • Oh my….I was laughing along with you..and then…boom….I lost my mom this summer and it is a horrible feeling…..take it one second at a time and smile at your children….ALOT…I don’t think my children saw me craw so much until the loss of my mother…..

  • Jaime

    *BIG SUPER GINORMOUS HUGS* to you and your family. So very sorry for the loss of your granny 🙁

  • Nichole

    I loved what you said about “whatever works for your family.” You and I would disagree on so much if we ever met in real life, but I love the way you handle parenting. It’s an inspiration to me to be a little more laid back than I am. Thanks!

  • Megan

    Truly sorry for your loss. Best wishes through this difficult time.

  • Barbara

    Heather, my thoughts are with you and your family. You can tell by your posts how well-loved Granny Boone was, which is all anybody can ask for. Lots of hugs!

  • I am so sorry for your loss. Your Granny looked like the perfect grandmother.

  • Grandmas are the absolute best. There’s something so special and wonderful and sweet about them (ok, most of them) that holds a special place their granddaughters’ hearts. I’m so sorry for your loss.

    BTW, totally agree with you about the “cry it out” thing. Of course, there are boundaries and limits and our son isn’t crying for too long by himself, but it’s definitely helped him sleep through the night. No more crying from Jack = no more crying from me.

  • Tracy

    I am truly so sorry for your loss. I have one Granny left..she is 88 and won’t be around much longer as her health is failing. I know it’s coming but I don’t think we can ever prepare ourselves for the death of a loved one. My heart goes out to you and your family. I will pray for peace and comfort for you all.

  • marcy

    What a beautiful woman your Granny Boone was. She reminds me of my grandmother – a woman full of cookies and love and hugs. I imagine yours was, too. Thank you for reminding us that even in the most difficult, sorrow-filled moments that families are a blessing. A wonderful, bountiful blessing.

  • Rob

    I’m so sorry to hear about your grandmother. I’ve enjoyed reading about her for the last 5 years.. eve since I found your blog.

    On another note… we let our son cry it out as well… ferberize!! And he’s the best sleeper in the world now. You do what you have to do… and whatever works, stick with it! Don’t let anyone make you feel guilty for that!

    My wife and I love reading about your family Heather… please keep it up!

  • Anonymous

    “Where The Crazy Comes From” was my favorite picture you’ve ever posted. Granny Boone was the perfect picture of a Grandma. Her hair, the seafoam green coat, the pin on her lapel and her smile…So sorry.

  • Linsey

    Sorry to hear (read) about your Granny.

  • Aw, thinking of you and your family, Heather.

    (And I’m so with you on the cry it out mentality.)

  • Leann

    So sorry for your loss.

Heather B. Armstrong

Hi. I’m Heather B. Armstrong, and this used to be called mommy blogging. But then they started calling it Influencer Marketing: hashtag ad, hashtag sponsored, hashtag you know you want me to slap your product on my kid and exploit her for millions and millions of dollars. That’s how this shit works. Now? Well… sit back, buckle up, and enjoy the ride.

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