Sleep has been our constant struggle, as I’ve shared over and over again. There are so many times I’ve reached the end of my rope with sleep deprivation, so many mornings when I was sure I could not keep going like this.
Each time, I’ve bounced back, always through the help of my husband or my mom or my village, all of whom are so gracious in taking a night or two and forgiving whatever nasty things I say when I’m at my sleepy craziest.
The last time I hit my edge, I finally called a number that I’d saved several breaking points ago: the number for a sleep coach that several of my mom friends had recommended to me, promising that she was a baby whisperer, and that there was virtually no crying involved in her bag of tricks.
It’s at those desperate moments that the yearning for a magic bullet overpowers your judgment and your critical thinking. There’s no choice but to just dial the number, and groggily ask the questions you’ve been formulating in the small dark hours of the night, night after night.
What is your method.
How much crying do you allow.
What are your success rates.
In which category of the baby product industrial complex should we purchase two of everything to adequately prepare for this process?
Can you come today.
This time, the answers to those questions didn’t turn me off, as they had with previous phone calls I’d made. Most notably: 2 minutes crying max. And, specifically, only the fussing kind of crying, not the hysterical, soul-shredding crying that I am biologically incompatible with.
Two weeks and too much cautious optimism later, my would-be savior showed up, and she took charge of the night shift.
Nathan installed himself in front of his phone so he could monitor the proceedings, with every intention of staying up all night.
I hid in my room and pretended like nothing was happening, except that I anxiously scrolled Facebook and drank a beer and couldn’t fall asleep.
Nathan came in a couple hours into it, and said, I know you don’t want to see this, but I think you should see this. This has been going on for over an hour.
And there, on the video monitor, was my toddler, hysterically screaming bloody murder while frantically trying to open the door to her room.
The coach came in, laid Mac back down in her bed, then left, and immediately, Mac was scrambling out of bed, face and body contorted with rage, twisting and tripping over her sleep sack as she charged the door again.
I marched upstairs and ended it.
Over the next hour, her breathing finally slowed back to its normal rhythm, and she spent the full night sleeping on my chest, like she was brand new to this world. My sweaty barnacle didn’t even want to nurse. She just wanted full body contact.
I realize I am on perhaps the extreme end of the sensitive spectrum when it comes to my baby crying. Maybe with the second one I’ll have developed better coping mechanisms. But I would so much rather drink a lot of coffee and pull in backup support (husbands & grandmas FTW!) than have my child experience that kind of emotional intensity in the service of my convenience.
Sleep training for us lasted less than three hours, all said and done. If anything, our brief flirtation with it set us back, sleep-wise. And I’ve said it before, but I really mean it this time: I’m done with treating this like a problem to be solved.
There’s no magic bullet. And that’s something I just need to keep remembering, every time I think I’ve hit rock bottom.
PSA: Hopefully this is redundant, but it bears repeating since sleep is such a polarizing topic: I have ZERO judgment for—and have zero place to judge—however you are parenting, sleep related or otherwise. This is where I’m at. End of story.