March 22, 2006
Looking Back at Peter's 3rd Week (Update: If I had known then what I know now about how to wear a baby and how to safely sleep with one, you wouldn't be reading this.)
I talked to several pediatricians about Peter's inability to sleep out of my arms, and they agreed: he'd have to do some crying.
"No!" I thought to myself. I'm of the school that believes going to your baby when he cries builds trust. How could I break that trust with a newborn still learning the way of the world outside the womb? All the sleep books I'd read, even those that accept "crying it out," indicated Peter was too young for this.
Yet I could picture Dr. Phil in my cluttered living room saying to me, "How's this working out for ya?" as I sit emaciated in my bathrobe, bloodshot eyes as I held my baby for the tenth day in a row.
Learning How to Soothe
"Every baby has a way that they soothe themselves when sleeping," one doctor said. "For your baby, it's YOU. When you put him down, and he realizes he's not in your arms anymore, he panics."
I couldn't deny it. I thought back to our time at Children's Hospital when Tom and I held Peter around the clock for two days. When we got home, Peter went from being difficult to put down to impossible.
I knew that he couldn't be in my arms 24 hours a day, and I knew that he needed to sleep. For his sake, we'd have to at least try this.
We did the Ferber method, something I never dreamed I'd do. I could go to Peter every five minutes, pick him up every fifteen minutes, and feed him every hour.
Who Cried More?
It's difficult to write about letting Peter cry. Partly because I want to forget it, partly because my words are inept to describe the pain. To hear your infant sob and know you could comfort him, but not, goes against every maternal instinct.
I wanted earplugs, but the thought of softening his cries to my ears made me feel too guilty. If he were suffering, I must suffer too. Each wail of his brought a new onslaught of tears for me, and I began to feel that I wouldn't have the strength to do it. At the same time, everything else had failed, and I knew that my little boy must sleep. I prayed with new fervency and clung to Tom.
This is what I will say about the crying: it worked, but it will always haunt me.
Now Peter naps in the morning and afternoon, goes back to bed between feedings at night, and gets 12-15 hours of sleep each day. Getting him to take an evening nap on his own still eludes us, and on that I've given up. Between 5:00 and 8:00 p.m. we rock and walk and soothe-- but 3 hours a day beats 24.