Originally posted at ymca.net 1/26/15
“I’m losing it,” I thought to myself. I tried to put my daughter’s bib around my neck and was confused that it didn’t fit and also wasn’t a necklace. Read that twice if you need to. It was going on three weeks that I hadn’t gotten a night of uninterrupted sleep. Maya was waking up more than 3 times every night.
I couldn’t take it anymore. I couldn’t keep waking up every 2 hours to feed her or change her diaper. I told my fiancé I wanted to use a sleep consultant. He looked at me skeptically. This wasn’t his first time at the rodeo and he’s told me many times that the only way he got his older kids to sleep when they were babies was to just let them cry.
Let them cry? How barbaric! When Maya was around 4 or 5 months, we tried a modified cry it out technique. I put her to bed and checked on her in increasing intervals. First 5 minutes, then 10 minutes, 15 and so on. It didn’t go so well. After 7 hours of incessant crying and screaming, I was traumatized. Never again.
So for the next few months, I ran to her side for every little peep. I catered to her every whim. Around the clock feeding, rocking and diaper changing became my life. It was like she was a newborn again. Then Maya decided she no longer wanted to sleep in her crib. Only our bed would do. I reached my breaking point. Our unofficial co-sleeping arrangement meant we were all getting the worst sleep of our lives.
Even if we went with the sleep consultant, we couldn’t get started for at least another week and I needed help NOW. She just has to cry, I finally agreed. I broke down and she ended up back in our bed the first 2 nights. Night 3 we stayed in a hotel and didn’t seem right to subject our neighbors to the cries of an upset baby. But night 4, that’s when the magic happened. She cried for 20 minutes and then slept for 10 hours straight! The next night was more of the same. Shockingly, it all just fell into place.
While I know there will be growth spurts, teething & nightmares that will upset Maya’s sleep cycle in the future, for now I’m just thankful. The fog of sleep deprivation has been lifted and I feel like my old self again.
Though I never want to experience this again (I will) and I hope you new moms don’t either (you will), this sleep debacle taught me a few things. Motherhood in practice rarely looks like you imagined it. Sometimes you’ll be driven to do things you said you never would. Your child’s needs are important, but it’s difficult to care for others if you’re not taking care of yourself. You can’t do it all and that doesn’t make you a bad mom, it makes you a normal mom. Sometimes, they just need to cry.