Thursday, July 12, 2007

"Thank the gods for blogs" or "Compromise in the Sleep War"

OK, the sleeping on the couch thing did not work. A few months ago I had a cold and slept on the couch. To our surprise, he only woke up once or twice per night, which was a dream come true (no pun intended). But he was having none of that this time.

So at 1am this morning, when I should have been catching up on desperately needed sleep, I turned to the one source I hadn't tapped yet - blogs. All day I had been emailing my attachment parenting support group, researching on the internet and reading through the baby books for any nugget of advice that might help.

The Dr. Sears/Attachment Parenting camp was not much help, unfortunately. Their pat answers - "This too shall pass" and "It's better for you to suffer than the baby" were just not cutting it. I really do believe in the principles behind this approach and Robbie and I are testaments to its success (I slept in a crib from day one and yet find it nearly impossible to fall asleep by myself at 25 years old, while Robbie co-slept until he was a toddler and he has no problems with independent sleep). On the other hand, while the Cry It Out method may be traumatizing, wasn't it just as traumatizing for everyone to be ornery, frustrated and sleep-deprived?

Update: The attachment group did end up giving me a very practical solution: children's tylenol.

I was seriously considering going cold turkey with the crib and the Cry It Out, but I knew in my gut that that wasn't the answer either. Even if exhaustion could push me to that point, Emerson is just not one of those babies that will cry himself to sleep. There have been nights when he will cry because he's gotten overly tired and - even with us right next to him, doing everything we can to comfort him - his cries will just escalate and go on for hours. When we finally find just the right combination to get him to sleep (i.e. swaying side-to-side while bouncing AND patting...or Robbie singing some ridiculous made-up song about the adventures of "Albino Man" sung to the tune of They Might Be Giants "Particle Man") he still whimpers and chokes in his sleep for another good 30-45 minutes.

Anyway, with my options looking slim, I decided to consult the world's best parenting blog (possibly best blog period): Sweet Juniper! I found a series of essays on sleep that made me laugh so hard and were so dead on that I wanted to drive to Detroit, wake these people up from their hard-won sleeping bliss and give them a giant hug. Embedded within one of these essays was a link to another blog called Ask Moxie that gave the most realistic look at children's sleep I have ever read. The basic point of it is that all kids have different personalities, including the way they sleep, so no one solution is going to be perfect for everyone. Every time an expert writes a book, the parents of kids whose personalities fit with that style rave about it as if it were God's gift to parenting. But for all those raving parents, there are an equal number of parents who didn't find success and are made to feel like failures by the s0-called experts, so they silently slink away. Moxie's best advice of all: when people ask how your baby is sleeping - just lie.

Up until a couple of months ago, I would have scoffed at the idea of even reading a blog, much less consulting one on how to raise my child. But last night I found my parenting soul mates and, as if he sensed the change in the atmosphere, Emerson slept the first four hours straight through and then (although still waking up frequently to eat) slept in until 10 am this morning!

I want to kiss Dutch and Wood. I want to kiss Moxie.

I want to sleep.

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