Nope. My 8-month-old doesn’t go all night. Not even close.
And before I know it, I’m presented with the ever-popular, somewhat elusive question of “Oh! Have you tried sleep training?”
As far as I can tell, eight months into my sweet little nugget’s life, “sleep training“ is an eloquent way of describing “let him cry it out ’til he’s blue in the face, flinging his limbs every direction, and cursing your poor parenting abilities.”
Because really, what compassionate mother would ever let her child cry like that for so long? Oh, who am I kidding?
In fact, I’m at this point in my life where I am seriously ready to start banging my head against the wall when little bubba starts calling out to me at 4 a.m. for the third time each night for a snack. Eight months of this blows. I’m losing my mind, people. I’m pouring orange juice into my coffee instead of creamer. I’m losing track of whether it’s daytime or nighttime. But do you know what sounds even worse? The hell known as sleep training.
At least I know when I go into my baby’s room and pull out my boob, he’ll quiet down. At least I know the crying is temporary. With sleep training, I’ve heard all the stories. The baby settles down after five minutes. For others, it’s 45 minutes, and for still others it goes on so long they give up and can’t handle it anymore.
Because that sound. That cacophonous sound of my baby’s cries feels like someone is tearing up my gut from the inside. Give me nails on a chalkboard any day, folks. The sound of my own baby wailing is enough to send me to tears, to rip my heart into pieces, and to set me into immediate fight-or-flight mode. I must stop the sound. I must quiet the baby! I can say it’s because I’m a compassionate mother, but let’s be real: It’s because my heart, my gut, and every cell in my body cannot handle that sound.
Then there’s my husband. Oh, my sweet, darling husband gently snoring beside me. How does he not hear that high-pitched squeal and want to race me to the nursery? Seriously. How the fuck is he still asleep Sometimes I pretend not to hear the sound and hope he wakes up. I wait, and I wait. Are you fucking kidding me? How does he not hear it? So there I lay, my boobs tingling in anticipation. My baby screaming bloody murder from across the hall.
And I wait. And wait.
And I check the clock and what feel like an hour has been four and half minutes. And the crying has intensified. I feel like I’m going to hurl. I wonder if he’s dying, or if his foot is stuck in the crib slat. I wonder if this will cause permanent psychological damage. In 20 years, will his psychiatrist blame his fear of abandonment issues on sleep training?
Finally, after 13 minutes — the longest 13 minutes of my life — I race out of bed and run to my son’s bedside, whipping out my breast like a magic wand. Because it’s 4 a.m., and my resilience is still in bed, sound asleep with my husband. My willpower caved, my determination fled, my heart exploded. What’s one more night of sleeplessness?
The hell known as sleep training has foiled me again. Maybe I will try again tomorrow. Maybe not. I’m too tired to even care right now.