Playful, elegant, and not above the judicious use of the word “shit."

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

  • Janet

    Heather, I’m so sorry for your loss. My thoughts are with you and your family. She looked lovely.

    What you said is very true. No two children are ever alike. Even siblings. You and Jon seem like very good people and you kids are beautiful. Thank you so much for sharing them with all of us.

    And the haters can suck it!!! I love your monetizing the hate page. Might as well make money from the baseless anger. I just never realized how bad it is for bloggers. A real eye opener.

  • Emily

    I’m sorry for your loss, and your right, Marlo does look like her.

    I just watched 2 friends get in a HEATED debate regarding CIO vs Attachment. If it hadn’t been on Facebook, it would have been a fist fight – with the anti CIO party doing the pummeling. Seriously, names were called and accusations made!

    I’m with you – firmly entrenched in the ‘whatever works’ camp.

  • Sometimes I do not think that kids are the only ones who need to “cry it out.” Sorry for the loss of your Granny.

    The only people who know what works for a family is the family. Although you and I will apparently be in the same section of hell, I had to cry my son out at 7 weeks, or he would have never slept, I don’t regret a moment of it. It was harsh and painful for me, but I have a child with excellent sleeping habits, even with all of the other things he deals with.

    Congratulations to you for being able to look through the loss to see the big picture of the blessings that come with the balance we call life.

  • Shelly

    I’m sorry for your loss..

  • Amelia

    I have 3 step kids and letting them “cry it out” is a lot easier for me than for my husband. When I was in high school with an infant brother, my Mom would send me upstairs to put my brother down while she would either sit on the couch in silence and cry along with him, or put on the television and try, I stress “try,” to pretend like it was all fine.

    This was when he was just walking and talking, so maybe a year and a half. It was just for naps. He would go down at night fine all by himself, but we always got the feeling, as he was literally falling asleep while throwing his toys at us, that he just didn’t want to miss out on anything.

    So, at first we all pretended like it was time to “rest” and we would lay down on the couch, or my Dad would move from sitting behind his desk, to the reclining chair in his office. Even if I had friends over, they would lay down too. Well, obviously that didn’t work because my bro was just like, “Wait, how come I have to go to my bedroom?” And he knew the answer, “Because as soon as you do, we all get up.” So then, we transitioned to having everyone go to their bedrooms and shut the door, while someone would carry my bro off to his.

    The crying was greatly reduced, then he would be put in his crib and play around with his stuffed animal or whatever for a little bit, then, OMG, then, he would be put in his crib and just snuggle up to sleep.

    Ahhhhh…

  • I used to be one of those awful, militant mothers who felt that her way was the only way. And then I had my second kid and realized every kid is a different story. And you do what YOU THINK IS BEST AT THE TIME. Because no one knows your kid like you do.

    Who am I to tell you what works? I have no fucking clue. I only know what works for me. I can make suggestions IF YOU ASK. If not, it’s ZIP YOUR LIP SISTER.

    That photo of your granny is beautiful. She does look like Marlo. And all that love in her eyes is flowing in and around you and your family now. As it always has.

    Big hugs, my virtual friend. Big hugs.

  • I’m so sorry about the loss of your Granny Boone. May her spirit live on in little Marlo.

  • Oh, Heather. Kiss that baby.

  • Jessica

  • mom i wnt mlk and thn lts play. mrlo. ps whrs lta?

    so happy you can continue to be with granny boone through marlo, and sympathies for your loss. a lovely matriarch, from what you describe.

  • Monika Spykerman

    There’s a reason why have only one child, and that is SLEEP. My husband was a proponent of the cry-it-out method, and while I WANTED that to work, I would rather have paper cuts on my eyeballs than listen to my three-year-old shriek for two hours. Night after night, Annika’s screaming would set my husband and I so on edge we’d end up screaming at each other. The evening usually concluded with Annika still awake and me curled up in a fetal position on our bed, longing for oblivion.

    Eventually we saw a family therapist, who suggested a happy medium that WORKED! We put her to bed with lots of hugs and kisses, and told her that we had to leave but we’d be back to check on her later. She could go to sleep, or cry – it was her decision. Then we set the timer for 20 minutes, during which she howled as though she were being mauled by a bear. Then we’d go in and tell her that we loved her, touch her and rub her tummy – but not pick her up. Then we’d repeat the whole thing. The first night it took three 20-minute sessions. The second night it took two, the third night one and by the fourth night she went to sleep without a fuss.

    Now Annika’s 6. I don’t think she was psychologically scarred by crying for 20-minute intervals, but I do believe that this method saved our family.

  • Jwo

    My sincerest condolences to you and your family, Heather.
    -Jennifer

  • Heather, I am so sorry about your Grandmother. My Grandmother passed away this past July and I had no idea how much I would be affected by it, but I was. Take time to grieve and spend time thinking about all the wonderful memories. Wonderfully enough I got pregnant the week of her funeral, and if it’s a girl we plan on naming her after my Grandmother. Life is funny in it’s cyclical ways, but you have to do your best to move upward and onward. Good luck, thinking of you and your family.

  • Katie

    Oh, Heather. I’m so sorry for your loss. You and your family are in my thoughts. How wonderful that Marlo’s smile reminds you of Granny Boone. I think I would find that such a comfort. Take care.

  • I am sorry that your granny died. Hug.

  • Karleen

    So sorry for your family’s loss.

    We tried letting my son cry it out after he was 6 months old. We just couldn’t do it. My heart couldn’t get past the message he was trying to send (I need you).

    When our daughter was born, our son was 2 yrs (and still not sleeping through the night). If we had let our daughter cry it out, we would have missed a very important message she was trying to tell us (I hurt). She would have died if we hadn’t listened. At 3 1/2 weeks she was diagnosed with malrotaion of the intestines and had emergency surgery. The only symptom was crying. I was sent home from the ER three times. I was sent home with a pat on the head and the message that babies cry over 8 times before it was diagnosed. I never stopped listening, and that saved her life.

    There is no right answer for every baby. Parents must listen to their hearts, heads, and instincts.

  • I’m so sorry about your granny!
    Mine has been gone for 3 years and I miss her so much. I keep the soap that she kept in her chest of drawers to keep her clothes smelling lovely in my own drawers now. My grandma smelled like lavender.

  • Jo

    We just put our little guy down for the night in his crib instead of a cosleeper for the first time last night. I know how you feel. He slept until 2:30am before waking to eat. Not ready for letting him cry it out but we have to get sleep at some point here so the day may come.

    Oh Heather, I’m so sorry to hear about your Granny. You said “a kid who looks just like my Granny Boone when she smiles” and I immediately thought, “NO, please don’t be that beautiful lady that she posted pics of with Marlo not long ago”…but it was. I’m so very sad for you today. She looked like the best granny ever.

    Many hugs to your and your family. I’m shedding some tears on your behalf today. <3

  • Nichole

    Granny Boone and my stepdad are looking down on us now. They are both in good company.
    My heart goes out to you Heather.

    Nichole

  • So sorry to learn of the passing of your grandmother. It’s beautiful, though, that Marlo is a tiny living legacy to her.

    I, too, let my baby cry it out a time or two. He’s 19 now, and none the worse for wear. He knows Mom loves him and always did. I agree with you – we do what works, period. And if someone wants to judge us for that, well then, they can come and walk a mile in our shoes.

  • sorry for your loss.
    as for babies and sleeping, to each their own. glad it worked out for you (with both daughters)

  • isumom

    So sorry for your loss Heather…but what a joy to have Leta and Marlo to help you through. You have a beautiful family and I am sure many, many wonderful memories of your time with your granny. Remember, she may be gone, but she is still smiling down on you 🙂

  • Susan

    So sorry about your loss…Grandparents are so special.
    I let my daughter cry herself to sleep too. Around the same age as Leta, actually. It was one of the most difficult things as a parent that I have done. You are so not alone on this topic, even if most people wouldn’t admit to doing it. Sleep is a beautiful thing!!

  • bekala

    Heather, you did it again, made me laugh and cry within the space of a paragraph. Please accept my condolences and best wishes for you as you navigate this particular day of rotten and wonderful.

  • SLY

    I am sorry for your lost. My grandmother just passed in August and I’m still trying to find the words.

  • will be saying a Cheers to Granny Boone later this evening. May she be at peace. My sympathies to your family, especially the Avon World Sales Leader who just lost her mama, and to George! as well.

    ps. my captcha words are ‘bosoms adoptable’. okay then.

  • so sorry for the loss of your granny. i remember you posting a photo of her holding Marlo right after she was born and thinking it was amazing to have four generations together. thinking about you and your family.

    xo
    Kelly

  • Cat

    I am so sorry, will be thinking about you guys.

  • I am so incredibly sorry for your loss.

    My grandmother died on March 28th of this year. I think of her every day, and will every day for the rest of my life.

  • Leslie M

    Couldn’t read that post and not comment. I am so sorry about your Granny Heather. I still have both of mine (one is 90 the other is 83) but I lost my Dad 3 years ago and I know how you are feeling. Hugs and prayers that you will find comfort and peace with your loss.

  • I’m so very sorry for your loss. I think it makes it sweeter to get lucky with the second after struggling so much with the first. It happened that way for me too.

  • brooke

    I am so sorry for your loss, Heather. Hugs from the east coast.

    You have a beautiful family…

  • Kaitlin

    I am so sorry to hear of your loss Heather. Thank you for taking the time to update your blog when you have other more important things going on right now. May you and your family get through this rough time with great memories of Granny Boone.

  • cookingmel

    So very, very sorry for your loss. Also, thank you for sharing your story. It gives hope to those of us who had similar first experiences with parenting and newborns and PPD that there is a chance things will be better next time.

  • kate

    Heather, My sincere condolences on your loss. It’s great that Granny Boone got to meet Marlo. I’m sure she was, and remains, very proud of you!

  • Elizabeth

    Sorry for your loss Heather. My thoughts and prayers are with you and your family.

  • Heather, I prayed (or asked the universe, which is what I do) for your Granny, and am so sorry for your loss. You’ve had a very tough few weeks (the haters have just SUCKED so much lately), and I honestly think the blessings of Marlo are karmic — you deserve some awesomeness. My 1st child was an amazing baby, which I think was God (or whoever)’s way of saying, “Hi. I know you can only handle THIS MUCH. So here you go.”
    I’m so sorry you’re grieving.
    Carol

  • I let well-meaning friends pressure me into the whole family bed thing with my oldest daughter. I was totally and completely miserable. I should have let her cry it out and sleep in her own nursery. yes, she had one, she just didn’t use it. She was four years old before she finally started sleeping in her own bed. I don’t have a lot of patience with her now and I wonder if it is from the residual feelings of dealing with such a difficult baby/toddler/pre-schooler.

  • Jen

    So sorry to hear of the loss of your Granny. I loved this post. All three of my kids have been totally different sleepers. The latter two being better sleepers as we actually followed their cues and not what the “experts” told us was right.

  • Olya

    I am very sorry about the loss of your Granny Boone!

  • My sincere condolences to you and your family.

  • otherpeoplesgranny

    so sorry about your granny
    keep up the great job with your babies!
    I bet their granny is proud!

  • Mindy

    So sorry about the loss of your grandma. I’m sure she is so proud of you and how you are raising those girls. We also let our daughter cry-it-out at 5 months, and it worked like a charm. Mothers (and many fathers) can tell the difference between yelling to get attention and real distress/pain/illness, and an hour or two of crying alone does not undermine the love and attention given ALLLLL DAYYYYY LOOONNNNGGG. Clearly you have been shaped by some amazing, strong women.

  • Tine

    A peaceful trip for your Granny Boone, and peace to you.

  • I just lost my Poppa this week, from a freight-train of a tummy tumor. I’m sorry about your Gram, I know the pain. The little kids released balloons at her grave, the wee ones wrote messages to poppa on them, and sent them his way. It was beautiful. (piks on my blog, plus a cheesy video you can skip, he was my poppa not yours) My toddler blew kisses at the casket as we left. Ripped my heart out. We loved him oh so well. Sorry for your family’s loss.

  • When I was about 3 months old my Mom wanted a night’s sleep so my Dad said he’s sleep in my nursery & get me when I cried. My Mom got up at one point to get a glass of water and found my Dad sleeping outside my nursery in a chair. He let me cry it out & after that, I slept through the night. I seem to have recovered. Big condolences for your Granny- it hurts I’m sure.

  • Charlie

    So very sorry for your loss, Heather. That’s all I can say right now because I’m still trying to process the loss of my own dear grandma.

  • Also: I apparently can’t spell or proofread. My sentiment is the same, typos & all.

  • Eunice

    R.I.P. Granny Boone. So sorry for your loss, Heather.

  • Anonymous

    I am so so sorry for your loss of your grandmother Heather. My heart goes out to you and your family.
    Take care and saying a prayer for your family.