I am not sure which is worse, having to let your child cry it out during sleep "training" or having to listen to negative remarks from peers, friends and even other moms. Although I am sure they all mean well, I hear "you are doing it all wrong", "he's too young" and my personal favorite "you are torturing my grandson" (yes, that was my mother's remark, granted she is a hippie and all of her kids slept with her till age 12, fine age 2 but really!!!)
For me, the crying that happens when you teach your child how to sleep is 10 times worse, but the negative feelings that surround this part of parenthood is something we could all do without. In every other aspect of motherhood everyone loves to give their advice, and still somehow all moms come together to support one another. It is this unspoken pact you make when your child comes into this world, this unspoken feeling of supporting your fellow sisters in child rearing, that no matter your thoughts and feeling at the end of the day, at the end of expressing your opinion, at the end of your sentence you will always say...but whatever works for you. Except, somewhere along the line someone decided to break the damn pact, and decided it was alright to not be supportive when it comes to Sleep Training and many of the moms followed suit.
Trust me I understand the fear and heart ache that goes along with letting your child cry themselves to sleep. Hearing your baby - your blood and soul, your ultimate creation - cry as hard and as long as he can for you, and knowing if you just went in and picked him up, if you just held him close to your body, if you just...if you just...he would calm in your arms and probably even fall asleep. All you have to do is go into his room lift him up and hold him close to your heart where he belongs; where his journey began and where he would be happy all the time. He would be so happy against your heart every day and every night and every moment of every day. And there in lies the rub. If I could function on no sleep, and function with having no time with my husband or myself, then I would never sleep train. But, at 5 months old Kol was still waking up every 2 hours to nurse. I was a full time mom with outside help only 5 hours a week and even though Dov was ever so helpful, he was working full time and needed his sleep at night to function. It was up to me to be a good mom but I wanted to be a great mom and to do that I needed sleep! I needed to have some evenings where my dinner or conversation were not interrupted by unnecessary nursing. On top of all that my active fun child was getting more tired and cranky during the day. And so I did it. I read 3 books and found the method of sleep training that worked best for me. I am sorry to tell you all but whichever method you choose there is always a measure of crying involved. Some kids take fewer days to work out their sleep habits and some take more but in the end most of them get it and when they do there is a sense of relief in the home.
After all the nights of crying - on your end, sometimes more than your child's. After all the negative remarks you hear from other women how they could never let their babies cry ( I have a couple of choice words for those ladies that I will leave out of this sentence). After all of that, you emerge 2 weeks later having barely survived and then there is the light...if you are lucky. The quiet after the storm. Your child sweetly lays his head down to sleep at your designated time, you leave the room and there is no crying. You sneak back to peak in because surely there is something wrong, after all the nights of praying for some peace and quiet, it is too quiet! So you hesitantly peak your head in and true bliss hits you in the face; your baby's eyes are closed and his breathing is soft and rhythmic. The feeling of pride that creeps over you is like no other. You are fiercely proud of your child and even more proud of yourself for sticking to it and being able to enjoy this huge step forward for you, your child and your family. With that pride comes a whole lot of fun. You have your nights back to do as you will. Catch up with your girlfriends that you have not seen in months! Get a babysitter and go out with your husband. Or my all time favorite, just hanging out with your significant other in your home, enjoying each others company with no interruptions.
Even though my big 8 month old has been sleeping well since 5 months there are still bumps in the road. You have to sleep train and retrain your baby sometimes. As if he can hear the words that I type Kol a.k.a. Murphy (as in Murphy's law) is crying out from the other room right now. Sometimes he cries out in a bad dream and my heart leaps and my mind goes back to all my original fears of what ifs -- what if he's cold, or what if he's hungry. Sometimes it's longer and I have to go back to doing check ins, where I let him know we are here, we love him and he is not alone. We will be here every step of the way guiding him in his sleep habits, in his life habits through the hard times and good. Even if sometimes in life we will not be able to sooth him our hearts will leap with him in his pain and joy and we will be right beside him cheering him on step by step until he learns how to do whatever he set out to do all on his own.
So let the naysayers say and let the people talk as they will, but know that once again, you always know whats best for you and yours and do not let anyone convince you otherwise.
These two books below really helped me understand how and why I should Sleep Train.
Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Child By: Dr. Marc Weissbluth
This book really educated me on the importance of good sleep habits for your baby, toddler and child.
The Sleepeasy Solution: The Exhausted Parent's Guide to Getting your Child to Sleep from Birth to Age 5 By: Jennifer Waldburger and Jill Spivack
I followed this book exactly when I was sleep training. It is a very easy book to understand, especially when you are running on no sleep!