Ok…ok, so I realize I wrote a letter yesterday. Let me preface with a disclaimer.
This particular post is not intended to mommy-shame. It is a response to the shame that has been cast in my–and other sleep-training mommies– direction. It is a simple response to a very guilt laden letter from a sleep-training baby. And let me tell you–this particular baby is preeetty manipulative. And quite clever, really. I’ve never read literature from such a emotionally sophisticated little one.
Here is my response to said sleep training baby…Only, I’m talking to my own sleep trained baby.
To my sleep-trained baby,
Since the beginning of your life–and I mean–the very beginning, I’ve made decisions about your well-being based on what I know to be true. I stayed away from the obvious; alcohol was off limits even before you were in my belly. I avoided the high risk foods; even cheese dip…which was a struggle. So much so that our hospital room was flooded with cheese dip on your birthday from our friends who were tired of hearing me obsess over queso. And that junk was delicious.
When you were born, the experts told me that you may get your days and nights confused; especially because you were born in the middle of the night. And you did. For two weeks, we struggled. Daddy and I tried to get sleep any way we could take it. I even considered putting the swing in our bedroom one night because I was so tired. Daddy held you and rocked you in between feedings most nights so that you–and mommy–could close our eyes for a few minutes. But every three hours, I came back because you were growing so rapidly. You needed me on call for those first few weeks.
Our first few nights together were rough, but we got through them. And by week three, we were going through the process of sleep training.
Yes; you read right (I can’t believe you’re already reading…). You were three weeks old when we put you in your crib and let you sleep as long as you could. You were a rockstar from the beginning. You slept and slept until it was time to eat, and I walked into your nursery; you ate; I changed your diaper; and you went right to sleep again for another few hours.
For a few weeks, I was up twice during the night. Then it dropped to once a night. And miracle upon miracles–you slept all night right after your two-month check-up.
It wasn’t always consistent, but you were a pretty solid sleeper until you hit a four months. Then, you got a cold. I didn’t let you cry it out for those two weeks when you would wake up every now and again. I know that you need to be attended to in the middle of the night when you were wheezing and sniffling and my heart broke for you. You didn’t understand why you felt so crummy.
I didn’t let you cry all night when you were sprouting all 8 of your teeth. EIGHT TEETH, little guy. Most of the time you slept, but not all the time. Sometimes, I would sneak into your room, console you, and you’d go right back to sleep. You didn’t understand why your mouth was hurting and putting so much pressure on your ears.
But here’s the thing; sometimes, you cried because that’s what babies do. Today, you cried because you kept throwing your snacks in your stroller and you got frustrated because you missed your mouth. I can’t really reason with you and tell you not to throw your snacks, because you don’t understand. And that’s just it.
You don’t understand that you’re crying because you need sleep desperately. You don’t realize that if mommy doesn’t get sleep, she falls victim to the dangers of sleep deprivation. You don’t understand that I am not a great mommy when I don’t get good sleep. I am impatient and irrational and exhausted. I am making the conscious decision to teach you how to sleep all night because that’s what humans need. You don’t really know that yet, but I believe it is my job to teach you about the things you don’t understand.
This is one of many of my decisions that you may not understand right now. And that is ok.
By the way, my decisions won’t always look like your friends parents’ decisions. Sometimes, you won’t understand why so-and-so’s mom will let them eat whatever they want and I won’t let you drink sugary sodas with candy bars and cake and cake pops and…well, you get the idea. Some parents think it is okay to go overboard sometimes, and that’s ok.
I may go overboard sometimes too. My decisions may not always be consistent, but I am doing the best I can. I am making decisions based on what I think is the best for you and ultimately, what is best for our family.
And for us, it was wise to teach you how to sleep. My decision is to help you learn how to sleep all night, because when mommy is rested, everyone is happier.
As for the kisses and tending all day, you can count on me to be there because that’s what mommies do. We kiss and cuddle and feed and nuzzle and play–when it is light outside.
But when it’s dark? It’s time for sleep. Not because I don’t love you; quite the opposite, in fact. I love you more than anything in the world…which is why you won’t see me at my worst; three a.m. is not a pleasant time for anyone.
Oh…and I miss you too. In fact, anytime I wake up, I turn on the video monitor to make sure you’re still ok. Can’t wait to see you in the morning and kiss that cute little face.