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

  • Ahhhh….the push and pull- I wish it didn’t mean that you had to lose your grandmother. I’m terribly sorry.

  • Rebkas

    You Grandmother looks absolutely amazing!! And you’re right– Marlo does look like her! I am so happy that this time around is going so well. With me– The first one was awesome and the 2nd one….12 yrs later I am still having issues with her!

  • This was a beautiful post. I’m so sorry for your loss, Heather. *hugs*

  • Anonymous

    Sorry to hear, heather! =|

  • Denise

    I am so sorry Heather about your Granny Boone. I am teary-eyed over here because 1) you are an amazing writer and you always make me cry and 2) I am sad that you must be so sad. My prayers and thoughts are with you.

  • Honey

    Her lipstick was perfect.

  • Sarah

    So sorry about your Granny, Heather. And you’re right, Marlo does look like her.

  • Lindsay

    That was really beautiful.

  • Melissa

    You are an awesome mom. I like to think of what you are doing as intuitive parenting.

    Peace to you and yours during this sad, sad time.

  • My deepest sympathies to you and your family, Heather. Give Margo and Leta some extra big hugs – it helps just a little.

  • So sorry about your granny.

  • Kathryn

    I am guessing there will be a whole lot of other people with in in that cell – my sister & her husband are down with the “cry it out” theory and my niece sleeps in her own room (HATES sharing space with anyone) straight through the night and often until 9:00 a.m.

    and she’s HAPPY – they all are

    so yeah, I guess they don’t love her, either

  • Beth

    I’m sorry for your loss, Heather.

  • First off, I wanted to say how terribly sorry I am for your loss. It’s terrible. I know how you loved her and will miss her with your entire soul. I’m so glad she got to meet Marlo and spend time with her before her passing.

    It’s a difficult decision to let your child cry it out. I had to do that as well. My son is a horrible sleeper. As you did, I too cried and cried and had almost tie myself to the chair so I wouldn’t go and comfort him.

    What works for one parent may not work for another. Babies don’t come with a manual. You do what you think is best. Look how smart and beautiful Leta is, you obviously did something right. I’m sure Marlo will be just as smart and beautiful.

    Again my condolences for the loss of your Granny Boone.

    -Angel

  • This was a great beautiful post. I’m so sorry about your Grandmother. And you are right, Marlo does have her smile. What a wonderful bit of luck.

    And thanks for the CYO video. I watched it like twice as we are going through it right now. Oof!

  • I never cry at internet posts, I think the whole idea is sappy and kind of dumb … but, I cried at this. I’m so sorry you lost your Granny Boone, and I’m so glad you’ve been lucky and blessed in different ways with both of your gorgeous daughters.

  • Erin from Wisconsin

    So sorry for your loss.

  • Kara

    I’m so sorry to hear about your loss. You and your family are in my thoughts.

  • robyn

    Good-bye Granny. xox

    So nice that she knew your children before she passed. She was lucky to be a great-grandmother.

    Hugs to you.

  • Maura

    Sorry to hear about your Granny Heather. My thoughts are with you and your family.

    Our first daughter was a breeze…only stayed up all night once. She slept in my bed…nursed right along side of me and went back to bed. However once she hit six months, she was ready (as was I) to be in her own room. However she had to cry it out. She wasn’t sleeping well in our room anymore. First night 30 minutes, 2nd 15 and ever since (she is 7 now), she is a perfect sleeper 🙂

    Our 2nd time around we were not so lucky. Reflux, colic..and the screaming screaming and more screaming. We followed her cues, as she wanted nothing to do with co sleeping. Instead in a bassinet beside my bed with white noise going to soothe her. She was up all night, every night…Oh the crying we both did She is 5 now…never went through the terrible 3s…when instead it happened at 4.

    It is luck. If my 2nd was as easy as the first – I would have a 3rd right now for sure.

    It always drives me crazy how judgmental people are about parenting styles. Just think of the hate mail you will be able to post about it. LOL

  • Cindi

    I am so, so very sorry for your loss. I lost my grandma this past Valentine’s Day while I was out of the country. And even though she was old, and we knew it would happen one day – it was and still is very hard. I miss her everyday. It’s an enormous loss. I am thinking of you and your family. xoxo

  • AS

    And every time she smiles, she will honor Granny Boone. What a gift to have her smile. I feel so sad for you, but so happy that you had the privilege of having a Granny Boone. Some of us are not so lucky to have had that.

    Wishing you only love,

    and a great big ( ( ( ( HUG ) ) ) )

  • Therese

    I’m glad you found a sleep system that works for your family. I am a first time Mom with a 4 1/2 month old, and I appreciate hearing about others experiences. It’s nice to know there are options for dealing and how they worked (or not…) for others.

    My condolences to you and your family on the loss of your Granny Boone. I live just a few short miles from Daniel Boone’s fort in KY and so get extra enjoyment when you share stories of the Boone relatives. (Just realized that sounds weird and kind of creepy — I should clarify that it provides a level of context to your stories that I might not otherwise have…)Anyway, I’m truly sorry for your loss and hope that you find peace and comfort during this challenging time.

  • I’m so very sorry for your loss. It’s amazing how much Marlo really looks like your Granny Boone – and wonderful that you’ll always be able to see them both in one of those sweet smiles. Sending you and your family warm thoughts.

  • Anonymous

    I am so sorry to hear of your loss. I lost my grandmother this year too – it’s heartbreaking to lose these special people – omnipresent reminders of your childhood, happiness, and unconditional love. I hope you can find comfort in your family.

    On the other topic, I am only 12 weeks pregnant with my first baby and when I told my sister the news within 10 minutes she asked me if I planned to let the baby cry it out.

    I told her I didn’t know, but that I would not be soliciting ANY advice on the subject, nor on breastfeeding, nor on returning to work!

  • Alyssa

    I’m so sorry for your loss, Heather, and to your whole family. I’ve loved reading about your Granny through the years – she sounded like a lady it would be fun to sit down and have a glass of iced tea with and gossip.

  • Jamie

    I am so sorry for your loss Heather.

  • Sylver

    I’m so sorry for your loss.

    OMG. Marlo totally DOES look like your granny when she smiles! SO amazing. What a wonderful way to always have her with you.

  • I’m sorry to hear about your Granny. Beautiful post.

  • Anonymous

    i am so sorry for your loss – knowing that my grandparents’ time is drawing ever nearer is terrifying, I hope that when the time comes I will have something as precious as Marlo to remind me of the metaphor of life.

    all the best to you and your family,
    …got me all teary eyed

  • isabelle from mtl

    Condolences and hugs from Montreal.

  • jeffeboy

    Sorry to read of your family’s loss Dooce (grandparents are pretty special). Peace be with you and yours though these hard times…

  • Sara

    What a beautiful post and a beautiful picture. I have tears in my eyes. I’m so happy for your luck and so sorry for your loss.

  • Wendy

    Awww….Marlo does look like your Granny. I’m sure she was a precious lady and will be missed…

  • Ninabi

    Heather, I’m so sorry you lost your wonderful grandma.
    All that talk about “well, she lived a good, long life” is rubbish when someone you hold dear is gone. There’s never enough time to hold all the love you have to give.

    The few bits you have shared with us about your grandmother have been wonderful. I’m glad Leta was old enough to remember her. Again, I’m so sorry for you and your family.

  • Anonymous

    My condolences to you and your family. A great family that is, and dont let the haters tell you otherwise.

  • JennyM

    I’m so sorry for your loss — even if you know it’s coming, it’s still hard. I’ve been fortunate not to lose too many loved ones (yet, I suppose, not to be morbid), but the thing that has struck me before has been just that — “life goes on” doesn’t really do justice to the weirdness of trying to wrap your brain around someone being *gone* and yet things don’t all just grind to a halt, and the rest of us keep living, and the bizarre combination of betrayal and relief that comes with taking enjoyment out of something while something irreparably sad is happening at the same time….

    Anyway, many, many condolences.

  • I am really sorry about your Granny. Grandmothers are the best.

    She looks like a real cool cat.

  • Morgan

    Throw some of that perfect lipstick on Marlo and you’ve got Granny Boone anytime you want her back. Wow, they really do look similar. You are in my thoughts.

  • Kim H.

    Sending you peaceful energy and an internet hug!

  • Oh, I am so sorry to hear about your grandma… I’ll be thinking of you and your family.

    By the way, I think you can take comfort in knowing that no matter how mad God gets at you for not loving your baby, he’s gonna get a lot madder at the people who waste their lives sending hate mail to someone they don’t even know.

    Well, maybe you won’t take comfort in it, because you’re a nice person, but I will.

  • Jenny

    I am so sorry for your loss. I lost my father when I was 10 and I vividly remember the pain. My grandmother and two of my aunts died within six months of each other in 2003-2004 time frame which was the first big loss I had as an adult. Hang in there and give John and the girls hugs. It won’t totally take away the pain but love makes all things bearable.

  • Mrs.Mom

    I’m so sorry Heather! My great grandmother( who would have been 102 in Nov) died this morning too. So I will shed a tear for you too. Peace to your family. 🙂

  • Katie

    I’m sorry for your loss, Heather.

    We were in the no option boat as well with the sleeping. Our son would probably not have slept at all if he could avoid it, but at that point (9 months) he really needed to get some sleep. He was a good sleeper once he got there, but GOING was insane.

    Pre-Ferber, we were trying various methods like staying in there and soothing, but he also was even more horrified by that. The one thing we had with Ferber that we didn’t before was a PLAN and it was such a relief to at least not be bumbling around feeling like heartbroken idiots.

    Different ways for different babies. Different ways for different parents. Anyone who presumes to judge someone else can shove it.

  • much peace to you and your family during this time.

  • Katie

    Heather, I’m so sorry about your grandmother. I very nearly lost one of mine this past winter and it was awful, I can’t imagine how you feel.

  • Kelly Kjellberg

    i’m sorry for your loss, too. its hard losing a grandparent.
    also, you and jon are clearly wonderful parents. leta and marlo are proof of that.

  • So sorry about your loss – great images of your granny and Marlo. They do look alike. You’ll never forget your granny though. She’ll stay ‘alive’ in ways you didn’t think she would.

  • Mel

    First & foremost, I am sorry for the loss of your beloved Granny.

    Secondly, whatever is working for your kids & sleeping is fine. Because it’s working FOR YOU & YOUR KIDS. The rest of the Internet can suck it.

  • Your Granny is lovely and so lucky to have been blessed with a wonderful family and the opportunity (no matter how short it was) to spend time with Marlo and Leta.

    @BeingSuper

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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