Friday, April 28, 2006

Cry It Out

Our first real attempt to let Lumpyhead cry it out last night was a ghastly failure.

Bump called me yesterday afternoon to report a happy baby, looking spiffy in his new duds, going for a walk and looking at squirrels. "Today is the day you thought yesterday was," Bump told me, referring to the fact that I invited ourselves over to Aunt Bob and Pete's on Wednesday evening for a happy hour in their back yard. I heard it was going to be a nice day, but when we got there it was fricken cold.

"We've had nice days all week," Peter proclaimed. "Why did you pick today of all days to do this?"

"Because I heard it was supposed to be nice," I whined weakly.

But yesterday, apparently, was beautiful. There was much walking and squirrel sighting and looking cute, all without me. I left work a little late, and just missed a call from Bump relaying an invitation from Peter to try the Backyard Happy Hour again.

After battling traffic, filling up my gas tank (holy shit), and stopping off at the drug store, I got home too late to do the Happy Hour. Lumpyhead's clothes were still cute, despite his best efforts to cover them with prunes, but the boy was getting tired and cranky.

So I played with him a little, ate a little, and tried unsuccessfully to give him a bottle. At this point, Lumpyhead was so tired he had dark circles and bags under his eyes. He finally took a bottle from Bump and went to sleep in the living room.

Bump and I have discussed how we'll tackle teaching Lumpyhead to go to sleep on his own. Lumpyhead has been sleeping with us, which is another one of those things I was never going to do. (Ha.) I thought co-sleeping was a little creepy. (Creepy? Let's compare getting some sleep to getting no sleep. Yeah, I thought that would shut you up about creepy.)

As for the dangers of squishing, which was my other concern, I read that mothers won't crush their babies for the same reason adults don't roll off the bed in their sleep. There's something in a woman's brain that prevents it. Dads, however, don't have that same mechanism, but Bump sleeps so lightly he wakes up whenever Lumpyhead rolls over, so I'm not worried about him squishing the baby either.

Oh, that Biblical story about Solomon and dividing the baby in half? Because one mother smothered her baby in her sleep? Probably SIDS, not smothering.

I read that, too. Probably on the Internet. So you should definitely take my word for it that co-sleeping is safe, people, as I have no pediatric training or experience with children but I read things on the Internet. And everything you read on the Internet is SO TOTALLY TRUE. Don't be worried that sometimes I remember stuff wrong, or that you're pretty sure I'm talking out of my ass because my buttcheeks are flapping as I say this. Because I have an eleven-month old baby who won't sleep through the night, so I totally know what I'm talking about when it comes to sleep training.

So, Lumpyhead is out like a light, but as Bump places him in his crib - before Lumpyhead's body even touches the mattress - he wakes up. Mad.

Here's our chance to do Cry It Out. The baby is obviously tired, not hungry, doesn't need a burp, and is mad because he's so sleepy and not asleep. I laid him down. I patted his back. I laid him down again. I patted his tummy. I stroked his hair. I laid him down again. I sang to him. I rubbed his head. I laid him down again, and again, and again.

He screamed bloody murder the whole time.

He didn't want a bottle. He didn't want a pacifier. He didn't want to be in this damn dark room in the Crib of Injustice with this crazy woman who wouldn't PICK ME THE FUCK UP ALREADY!

About 35 minutes in, Bump came in to see what he could do. The sight of Bump made Lumpyhead even angrier, so he left.

Forty-five minutes in, I may have offered Lumpyhead a pony. It did nothing to stop the howling.

After over an hour of screaming, crying, gasping, sitting, rolling, standing and definitely not sleeping, I gave up. Bump rode in on his noble steed and rescued the baby and gave him a cheerio. Lumpyhead stopped sobbing. But he wouldn't even look at me.

Let me say that Bump did not sabotage me. I brought Lumpyhead out of his room and he made a flailing lunge for Bump yelling, "Papa! Papa! Help me! This Miserable Hag has left me to cry for an hour in the Crib of Injustice. Save me! Oh, and at 10:26pm she said I could have a pony. Write that down."

He was still ridiculously sleepy.

Eventually I brought him to our room, where he begrudgingly took a bottle from me for about 45 seconds, until Bump coughed from the other room and the wailing began again. Bump joined us, and Lumpyhead took the bottle from him (of course - yet another stake through my heart) and fell asleep. So did I.

Until around 1, when Lumpyhead was again shrieking from the Crib of Injustice. Bump had placed a sound-asleep baby in the crib, where he stayed asleep for only the time it took for Bump to walk through the living room to the kitchen and put a bottle in the fridge.

Lumpyhead was betrayed. "You too, Father? You are in on this, too? You will not free me from the Crib of Injustice? Why? May I remind you that it's one in the morning and you have neighbors? Allow me to remind you of this loudly."

Lumpyhead won't even stay asleep in his crib, I don't know how we can expect him to go to sleep in his crib. I hoped he would wear himself out; that he would learn how to put himself to sleep and apply that knowledge to staying asleep throughout the night. I hoped he would learn that his crib is a safe place, ideally located for babies looking to get some shut-eye. Instead he cried for an hour while my blood pressure spiked and I was left so heartsick I didn't want dinner. He fell asleep and spent the night in the same place he has nearly every night before, where I worry he will roll or crawl off the edge and hurt himself.

This morning when I left, Lumpyhead was sound asleep in his regular spot in the middle of the bed. As usual, he was inexplicably occupying at least 2/3rds of the bed. He was angelic, and even smiled a little when I kissed him. A lazy, assured, triumphant little smile.


tammy said...

Here's my two cents, which a lot of people won't agree with.

Child one cried it out at 12 mo.s He had never slept through the night before that, even though he was usually in his crib. After two nights of complete hell, & both of us crying, it stopped. On the 3rd night, I put him in his crib & he played for a couple of minutes, then went to sleep. He is still a good sleeper.

Child 2 slept through the night,in his crib, at about 3 months. at some point he stopped. Since he was #2, we were often too tired to even worry about it & gave in. He is four & I wake up at some point every night & have to go to him or because he is kicking me in my bed. He is a horrible sleeper.

But I can't say that either way would have worked for the opposite kid, or if it's just due to different personalities. You just have to do what works for you & the kid!

Bridgermama said...

I have thought of letting B "cry it out," now that I have read your post I will not. :( Seriously, I was so wishy-washy on this subject that all I would have needed was a tiny tap in the other direction. Thanks for the tap!!!

laurie said...

Did you see the fracas at dooce that erupted over this topic a month ago? If you want to hear 475 opinions on what you ABSOLUTELY should or should not do with Lumpyhead, be sure to read the comments.

We let our twins CIO at 7 months. At almost 4 yrs old, they are excellent sleepers and they don't wake each other up when they do occasionally wake up during the night. I'm not saying it's what you (or you, or even you hiding over there in the corner) should do. But it worked for us. And that's also not saying that it wasn't the hardest thing we'd had to do up to that point in our parenting voyage.

Good luck to all 3 of you. It's not the easiest journey, but at some point, you will arrive. Be sure to pack some cheesy poofs.

Gidge said...

With my first I am afraid to say that lazy parenting + the absolute joy of having my firstborn snuggled into my arms has created a situation where at the age of 3, he is STILL in my bed. And while I don't recommend this to anyone, it is still a joy to smell him and snuggle him. It's just annoying as hell to try to get any sleep.
With the twins....I had no such luxury. I had to let them scream and cry until they figured it out.
Sounds cold.....but there just wasn't enough of me to go around.
So at 2, they are excellent sleepers.
The three year old?
Not so much.