Friday, February 6, 2009

really? we need a strategy?

I think, in life, there are some things that are best strategized. How to add a new regular expense to a family budget, perhaps. Or, how a company shall manage correcting damages from the latest computer virus. Maybe even more smaller scaled things, like how to plot out a morning so all children are dressed, fed, and to school on time. But, come at me with talk of "sleep strategies", and I turn off. I simply don't want to hear it. To me, sleep is something you just do. You don't develop a plan to achieve it. If you're tired- SLEEP! If you're not tired- STAY AWAKE!

When I had Abigail, one of the earliest irritations that I stumbled across was how everyone tossed out inquiries about how she slept. For the life of me, I could not understand how on earth it was anyone's business. I started telling people that she slept fine, just so I didn't need to go into the details of how we slept in a chair for 10 months, me holding her, then half in a chair, half in a bed, co-sleeping for another 8 months. Then, she'd sleep in a crib for 3-4 hours a night, and sleep the rest of the night in my bed with me. To this day, she wakes up at least once a night, and I almost always wake up with her in my bed. She sleeps, I sleep, and Todd sleeps, so we make it work. Now, there's Braeden.

In my family, "Ferberization" might as well be a four letter word. When babies cry, they are sending you, the parent, a message. Most often, it deals with discomfort. As parents, we know we can not always, and should not always, do all we can to make our children comfortable (yes, honey, mommy would be more comfortable in a Mercedes-Benz too! Now, get on your tricycle). But when you're talking about a nine month old baby? A baby that just wants you to hold its little body close so it can feel safe and warm while falling asleep? Will someone please tell me why that is so wrong?

Wait. Scratch that. Today, someone tried to tell me why it was wrong. Namely, our pediatrician. I should state here, that I adore our pediatrician. She has been a saint, and ultimately, she encouraged me to do what's right for my family... but only after she lectured me for ten minutes on the benefits of having my baby go the night without eating, and sleep through the night in his own crib, in his own room, self-soothing if he wakes up ticked off.

It would lead to better sleep for me, she said... I don't care about sleep! I decided long ago sleep was over rated!
It would lead to better sleep for my family... if they're tired enough, they'll sleep through it!
He would nap better if he slept through the night.... grrrreat, now he's going to sleep his whole life away?

I think she sensed my wall on the topic. Several times in her discussion with me, telling me how Braeden doesn't need night feedings and should be able to sleep all night, she would seem to break out into laughter, and I think she knew that I was rubber and she was glue and her fancy shmancy sleep theories were bouncing off me and sticking to either her or the baby goo left on the exam table by the previous patient. Her reasoning just would not penetrate. It seemed to be an argument that MY life would be better if I let HIM be miserable for a few nights. Right. Because his crying is so pleasant to me.

People, there is a reason that a baby's cry is irritating as hell. It's a call for action. I want my baby to cry when he's uncomfortable just like I want my fire alarm to go off when my house is on fire.

Okay, but I need to come back to the fact that I adore my pediatrician. She wouldn't lead me astray, would she? I really like her. She has her own kids. I mean, I'm tempted to meet her before work for coffee, I dig her so much. Maybe I should give this at least a cursory glance.

She recommended this book, Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Child, and i bought it today. Research never hurt anyone. She also recommended I get Braeden a little lovey toy that might help sooth him in his crib at night. Forcing comfort feels contrived, but I must admit, as I held him here on my lap at his last waking (of three in the last 2 hours), he did pull his little 'snuggy moo' toy close and suck on it as he fell asleep again.

So, I'll dote on Brae's moo cow blankie, and I'll try to keep an open mind while I read someone's strategies on sleeping... but you need to know, here and now, I'm skeptical.


  1. Mine's eight; no one asks about sleeping any more. Which is a shame, because her sleep habits are weird and I like talking about them. Now all they want to talk about is whether I'm ready for adolescence. I prefer talking about sleep.


  2. "research never hurt anyone."

    Have you watched Fringe?!

  3. i tried to watch fringe once. it freaked me out.

    adolescence? yikes. maybe i do prefer talking about sleep!

  4. I LOVED that book. I too was skeptical on it because I wanted to always go to my baby to comfort her, but I also didn't want to still be waking in the middle of the night (after a certin point) because I was working. We never really had to have her "cry it out" and I think a lot of what is said in the book makes a lot of sense. Good luck!

  5. I think whatever works for you is what's right, regardless of what any experts say. I'm guessing the pediatrician hears lack of sleep as a common complaint (that's actually one of my main fears with having a kid, believe it or not, because I don't do so well myself unrested) so she probably feels the need to bring it up.

    It reminds me of a topic that came up in a counseling group recently: one of the women was lamenting how she spent so much time sorting magazines for a project, should she be doing this, she wondered. The counselor replied that if she enjoyed it, yes. If not, well then no. It's a fine activity only if you like it. If it drains you, then you can focus on changing it.

    It doesn't sound like sleep is an issue in your house so don't worry so much about the advice. But I applaud you for looking into it anyway.