I’ve never been what you might call a “good sleeper”.
Jack is at a point right now where he is learning “object permanence”. Essentially, he knows that objects and people exists still even when they are not in his line of sight. It’s bittersweet. He’s learned to miss us when we’re not there. That sounds sweet, right? It is. However it sours when you realize the inevitable implications it can have on an infants ability to fall soundly asleep. He’s reached a point in his cognitive ability that he associates what has put him initially to sleep with what must put him back to sleep. Therefore, if he falls asleep while Dad is giving him a bottle he fully expects Dad to be there at 2am when he wakes up. If he fell asleep in Mom’s arms and wakes up at 4 he’s gonna think: “Where the HELL are Mom’s arms!?!”
The best comparison I’ve heard went something like this: imagine you go to sleep one night in your room and wake up at 1am on your front lawn. You’d be scared. You’d be bewildered and wonder how the hell you got out here and who is gonna let you back into your house. Now, how many times would that have to happen before you just decided that it was simply better not to go to sleep at all. That is where we were at with Jack. We’d kept using the tied and true methods of nursing, rocking, singing, etc to lull him into a temporary sleep while not taking the steps to make sure he was capable of putting himself into a deep sleep.
Like I said, I’ve never been a good sleeper. I envy Allison for many reasons, but more than anything else is her ability to fall asleep regardless of environment or distraction within 5 minutes of laying down. Amazing. Me….different story. My mother used to come in to wake me up for school and it would be rather obvious that I had been up all night. Even now, at 33 years old, I find that I get my best work done when I know that most of the surrounding world is asleep. It gives me an odd comfort to know I’m part of the select few still awake. That said, I also hate that I’ve conditioned myself this way. I hate that if I go to bed at 8pm I will wake up at 1am and be up until 5. I hate that I toss and turn for hours before finding a comfortable position and then squander that position on an endless array of unsolvable problems that breeze in and out of my head.
I do not want this for Jack. Even if that is a little dramatic, I feel one of the greatest gifts you can give as a parent is to instill a quality that you do not posses yourself. I want Jack to have a good night’s sleep.
So we have embrace a method commonly know as “Cry It Out”. All the fancy words in the world cannot shield the fact that you are essentially ignoring the cries of your child for a series of evenings. The hope being that he will be forced to learn to comfort himself and gain the ability to fall asleep by himself without the intervention of one of us. From a pragmatic perspective it makes complete sense. In the long run, we will have a child that is now less reliant on us to fall asleep, which not only builds strength of character in him but also rewards us as parents with a little more sleep and security.
In the now…
Well, I feel like I’m breaking his heart. And I am. But not for no reason.
As of the posting of this webcomic, Jack is on his third night of Cry It Out. We put him to bed at 7:30. He has not woken up once since. It’s 1:30 in the morning. My son has slept 6 straight hours in his crib for the first time ever. It’s working. We’re doing it and this is once instance in which I will be glad that he is not like his father.
Sweet dreams, Jack. See you in the morning for oatmeal, a sippy cup of water, and the biggest ba-ba you’ve ever seen in your life.