I am the type of person who needs a minimum of 7 hours of sleep. I know there are those out there who thrive on 4 - 5 hours of sleep. It is my belief that these people collect other people to make skin suits. Okay, not really, because I actually do know people who don't have to sleep that much in order to function in the human world. Before I had Eli, I was aware that sleep would often be fleeting in his first few months of life. I had read, though, that around six or seven months, babies typically will sleep through the night. Oh baby books, I scoff in your general direction. Now I know why my parents would shoot each other a knowing glance whenever I said, "I read it out of this baby book."
Enter Elijah Parker.
Eli actually slept pretty well his first 7 months of life. We chose to co-sleep with him until he was 6 months old. Since breastfeeding was a hit and miss for us, we felt like this would be a great way to bond with him. When he turned 6 months, we transitioned to the crib. This change went pretty well for us. It was a little rough the first couple of weeks, but we made it. Then October came. About a month and a half ago, Eli stopped sleeping through the night. He would usually wake up around midnight, 3:30, 5:00 and then around 6:30. At 6:30, he was up for a few hours. When he woke up we would go in and rock him, and he would go back to sleep pretty easily. However, our sleep was interrupted, and Ben and I were always tired. I kept saying, "Oh, he's just teething," or, "Oh, this is just a phase," or "Oh, he heard that Glee wouldn't be on T.V. for two weeks and couldn't sleep because of it."
Then we entered into Dante's forgotten circle of Hell. This past week, Eli would go to sleep when we rocked him, but would immediately wake up when we put him in his crib. Also, rocking him to sleep would take longer. I was venting to my mom (certified pediatric nurse practitioner) and she said it sounded like Eli had gotten himself into a pattern and needed to learn how to soothe himself to sleep. And even though she didn't explicitly say it, by saying "Eli had gotten himself into a pattern", she meant "Ben and Jeanette allowed Eli to get into this pattern." And then she said the five words I dreaded to hear: LET HIM CRY IT OUT.
When Eli was a wee baby, we said that we were not fans of the cry it out method. How could parents do this to their children? Won't it scar him somehow? But, Internet, I have not slept an entire night in nearly two months. And, Internet, I may just accidentally run someone down with my car. I am at my wit's end.
So, I did it. Last night, I put Eli into his pjs, fed him a bottle, read him a couple stories, prayed with him, put him in his crib and WALKED OUT OF THE ROOM. And he cried...and cried...and screamed...and coughed....and cried. I sat outside of his room praying that he would just lay down his head and go to sleep. Then I started to cry. Surely, this would send him straight into therapy at the young age of 2. His first word would be 'neglect'. After 10 minutes, I walked into his room, rubbed his back and tried talking to him. I then WALKED OUT OF THE ROOM AGAIN! And he cried again and he screamed again and he told me he hated me and he called Larry King to give him the first interview and then Oprah and then the police came to cart the very horrible woman off to jail. It was horrible. He cried for a total of 25 minutes. "Pbbt, 25 minutes," you scoff. Internet, that was the longest 25 minutes of my life, and I was in labor with him for longer than 25 minutes.
His sobs tapered off into those sniffs you get after crying really hard -- you know, when your whole body shakes as you sniff and your bottom lip is sucked into your head. I walked in and he was scrunched into one corner of the crib in the frog position. My heart broke for the third time that night. He was asleep, but was it worth it?
He woke up later that night at 3:30. Ben went in his room and rubbed his back, but didn't pick him up, which caused him to pull a Linda Blaire. And he cried off and on for an hour. A defeated Ben walked into our room and said he didn't know what to do. Desperately wanting to hold onto my sanity, I broke. I changed his diaper, fed him a bottle and held him until he went back to sleep. I know, I know...I just wrecked any progress we may have made, but I was tired and Ben was tired and the college students whose rooms are next to our apartment were tired. He finally fell back asleep around 5:00...and then woke up at 5:50. Ben, again, went in and tried talking him down off the ledge. At 7:00, as Ben's alarm was going off, he brought our very awake child into our room. I then took him out so Ben could try to get some sleep.
As I write this, he is refusing to take a nap in his crib. He'll sleep if we rock him and are holding him, but the second we put him in his crib, he voices his complaints...loudly. I am at a loss. I'm not sure if what we're doing is right or if my name will be sent to the proper authorities after people read this. We just want to sleep. If you have suggestions, please send them our way. If you are going to chastise us, please send your complaints to your mom.