Baby: Self-Soothing = Mommy: Heartbreak


Ugh.

I know.  She’s 7 months and then some.  She rarely puts herself down to sleep.  It is usually done by nursing, or being held.  My husband and I are both pretty programmed at this point to jump to her cries.  We both know it’s not the best thing anymore, not like when she was a newborn.

At this moment, I’m attempting to let her self-soothe for a nap.  I had her down from nursing, but she woke up when I put her in the crib.  Which is nothing new lately.  Which we’ve taken advantage of in the whole process of trying to get her to self-soothe.  We don’t pick her back up immediately, and usually rub her back until she relaxes and goes back to sleep again.

She’s been getting into the habit wherever she is, whether it be playing with her things, or in her high chair, or sitting on a lap to grab her binky and put it in her own mouth when she wants it.  This also has seemed like a very good thing to us.  It showed us that she sometimes instinctively does that for low-level self-soothing.

She’s a pretty stubborn girl as we’ve found out when it comes to getting her to nap or go to sleep at night.  She is often passed back and forth between the two of us for the better part of an hour or more sometimes when she’s tired but fighting tooth and nail to stay awake.  Considering that, I’ve been trying to step up slowly the time frame of how long I let her cry to see if she will self-soothe.  I’m also trying to pay closer attention to her cry types as well.  Most of the time she does have her whiny stage when on blankets in the living room and she wants something.

But putting her in the crib is a whole other level of annoyance to her.  She doesn’t like being put in there.  She’s very much attached and prefers to be within sight of me most of the time.  Which has made putting her down for naps by nursing such a necessity up to now.  Otherwise, she almost never sleeps.  And if she does fall asleep in my lap, it’s not for long.

So, I know to some extent I know people will say I’ve been cutting myself off at the knees by doing it this way, but that’s what I was comfortable doing, and I won’t apologize for it.

But, I do see the points of working toward better self-soothing.  And I prefer to think of it as self-soothing more than the more crass “cry it out” method.  I do see the point in letting her cry to get some energy out and tire herself out.  I don’t see the point in letting her go to the point of possibly feeling like she was abandoned.  A bit extreme, but hey.  I know my baby and she’s showing signs of incredible understanding and growth.  And that’s not just because she’s my kid and I’m not just being overly biased.

I do believe we’ll find a way to accomplish this…  But I also know that it’s going to be very hard on me.  It really hurts me to hear her cry for extended periods.  Thankfully she hasn’t been severely colicky or sick or anything, and is generally in a pretty good mood, and is just a really content baby.  Which I think actually makes this a bit harder, because we’re not used to hearing her cry for long, and tend to just pick her up when she does.

One of the things that just plain bugs me about the idea is the harshness that the “cry it out” crowd seem to have.  I was so put on a negative edge by the pediatrician we saw on base for her 6 month check up.  He was so flippant and kind of rude about the fact that she wasn’t sleeping through the night, that we hadn’t just let her cry it out before then.

She’s breast fed.  I’m still worried that she will start loosing weight if I don’t feed her at night.  She doesn’t get as much at each feeding as most bottle-fed babies her age.  I still believe that she will sleep through the night when she’s ready to.  But it seems like some people are bent on shaming people like me for that opinion.  I know doctors are doctors…they know their technical stuff.  But as everyone always says…all babies are different.

I’m stuck between a rock and a hard place between letting her go at her own pace, and basically trying to train her like a puppy.  That’s what it feels like sometimes.  It’s hard to not feel like that.  And I don’t want to feel like that.

Well, through writing this in pieces over the last hour or so, we went through two cycles of putting her in her crib.  I took her out for a while to calm her down, made sure she was fully fed, changed, and everything else, then put her back.  This second cycle is going better than the first.  She was just quiet for a handful of minutes, not moving, and I had thought she was asleep, but she’s crying a bit again now.  I know she’s just fighting sleep.  She always does.  She doesn’t like missing anything.  But she is going longer in her quiet periods, so I’m hoping that this will be a short cycle and she’ll go to sleep and nap for a while.

We’ve been fighting on the nap front off and on for a while, and only when she seems to be going through a growth spurt does it seem like she’s napping like she should be.  But I’ve also come to realize that sometimes she really isn’t that tired and only wants to power nap, and that’s ok.  But when I can see that she’s really tired, with rubbing her eyes, yawning and getting red around the eyes….I know she needs to take a nap.  Whether it be a power nap or a long one, I don’t much care which.  I just want her to sleep if she needs it.

Which is another reason why I think that really working more on getting her to self-soothe is important.  But being the fighter she is…the crying is going to be a hard point for me to get past.  It’s as much a re-adjustment for me as it is for her.

Well, to close this out, it seems like she’s fallen asleep.  This second round went over MUCH better than the first one did.  She’s a smart cookie.  She picks things up rather quick.  I’m hoping that today is a good foundation for her realizing that she does need to continue to self-soothe.  Annnnd, I swear I must jinx it every time I mention that she’s fallen asleep.  She just put out a very sleepy short cry and fell back into quiet.  I think that she’ll get her nap in.  I’m positive at this point, where at the beginning of this post I was not.  These lessons are important for me as much as they are for her.  I have to remember to actually believe that she’ll be ok if she cries for a while.  I know she’s fine on every other level that is important.  It’s hard to remember that, as much as I’m told and supported by friends and family when it comes to letting her cry a little here and there.  But I’m learning it.  Slowly but sure, I’m learning it.  I hope that this is a turning point for both of us.

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Mary

Wife, student, new first time mother. Crafter and creator. Animal enthusiast. I had a miscarriage in March 2011. But we tried again. March, 2012 was the birth of my first child. Off and on I have been dabbling with small business, trying to get it off the ground since, every so often changing direction.

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