Not Sleeping

She opens her mouth to take a cheerio like it’s communion, something holy and to be savored. So strange to have a high chair in the kitchen again, the dog sniffing hopefully as she eats, knowing that at some point something tasty will fall on the floor. Soon, too, there will be morsels dropped intentionally, both parties benefiting from dinner time.

Less holy is nap time, where she is trying to learn to sleep on her own. For the past nine months, she has fallen asleep in my arms or in the bed next to me, burrowing into my breasts and drinking herself drunk from the goodness. She still wants to, crying pitifully from her playpen where I have laid her with hugs and kisses, and there is nothing holy about feeling like the devil as she sobs.

I hate this and I love this, having a baby so different from all of the others. It has never once occurred to me in all my years of parenting that I would even CONSIDER, much less try, letting a baby cry herself to sleep. Never. In fact, in my not-so-recent past I have accused people who do this of being cruel and heartless, because to abandon a baby in order to impose some sense of normality on their lives just seemed so selfish! After all, if one didn’t want to be inconvenienced,perhaps one ought not to have had children, right?

What I know now is that is isn’t about being selfish or wanting the old life back, at least not for me. It is, simply, about somehow trying to maintain any shred of sanity that might still be lurking inside me. I love her so much it hurts, but when she cries for me and wants only me and will only sleep with me holding her close, god it’s just so hard. From conception, she has been different from the others, so much harder than I thought she would be-and it’s not like I went into this without having some idea how hard parenting is!

I used to think I was an Attachment Parent, have really identified with that ‘movement’ so to speak, but now I have to rethink that-because no attachment parent would be sitting her listening to her baby cry. There is guilt here, believe me. And I truly don’t know if I will be able to continue this, because after day three, there is no appreciable change; she just doesn’t sleep.

Maybe the holiness in all of this comes from the putting everything else aside and simply loving this baby to sleep. Maybe the communion of breast milk and cereal is where her peace comes, and maybe I will find my own peace with the situation. Right now I just know that I am praying for some kind of guidance.

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5 thoughts on “Not Sleeping

  1. Don’t feel too bad. Some babies really just cling to an insufferable degree. For myself, I decided with Andy to just get over the “consistency” rule that my mom kept pushing (i.e., if I want him to cry it out at all I have to make him do it every time), and when I can’t hold them, well they just have to deal; and when I can. I will, and savor every minute of it. Because really, if your child feels love from you when you are there, and if you always come back, they will learn that they aren’t being abandoned. And it’s better for them not to feel you sometimes than to feel your resentment. Moms are human too. Hang in there.

  2. We had to do cry it out with both of our kids at certain points. It was the only thing that worked, if we kept going back (like Ferber method) they just got all upset again. It sucked, but it was worth it in the end.

  3. We had to do the cry it out. And we had Little Miss learn to sleep by herself and put herself to sleep more than Mister Man. And you know what? It made a difference in how well they learned to sleep and stay asleep, which has helped them in so many other ways. Nothing is ever easy about being a parent, is it?

  4. I just went through the same thing with my almost eight month old. She would only sleep in my arms during the day and in her Rock and Play at night. Both were crutches that *I* created for her, but you do what you can to get your baby to sleep during the first several months, right? It got to a point where we were both chronically exhausted. I never did it with my eight YEAR old and he didn’t sleep through the night until he was eighteen months old and had sleep issues for several years. It was TOUGH, the toughest thing I’ve had to do as a parent thus far, but the payoff was more than worth it. I still nurse her to almost sleep on occasion, but I don’t HAVE to. In the middle of the night, she lets me know when she’s done and ready to go back to bed. Because I “trained” her during nap time, it was an easier transition to night time- she was ready for her crib. We’re still working on the whole sleep through the night thing (something she had previously done in her Rock and Play), but I don’t feel I need to let her cry in the middle of the night because it’s not a struggle to put her back to bed after a nursing (and I do feel she still needs to nurse because she is so active and not gaining right now).

    It sucks in the midst of it, and since this post was written almost two weeks ago, you may be through the worst of it; but it is awful and horrible and I spent many naps crying with her, but my baby is SO MUCH BETTER OFF because of it. I also considered myself an AP and I would sit there and silently judge others; but then I walked a mile in their shoes and realized that this horrible, awful thing was actually a wonderful gift that I could give to the both of us.

    You don’t know me, but I think you know who I am, and if you need someone to talk to about it, you have my email address. I know how helpful it is to have someone who’s recently been there, done that to talk to.

  5. Here’s hoping she’s better now, but remember that when you teach her to self-soothe, when you show confidence (even if you’re faking it) that she can get through it on her own, you are actually giving her a gift. (Never mind that she doesn’t appreciate it.haha)

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