Sometimes my babies cry, and I can’t get to them to stop it. Yep, they cry-it-out, as it were. Anyone stumbling down the road of motherhood is inundated with terms referring to parenting philosophies: cry-it-out, sleep training, Attachment Parenting, RIE, Dr. Sears, Dr. Spock…it can make your head spin. And also make you wonder what you’re doing wrong.
Because here’s what I’ve figured out, since I have two babies who are growing up with the exact same variables: it doesn’t really matter what you do, as long as you do it with love.
In the early days, we called Thea our “high-needs” baby. She would cry for hours before falling asleep at night, she needed to be on me all the time. She would nurse and nurse and nurse if I let her. Jude was…easy. You could put him down in the pack n’ play when he gave a little yawn and he would fall right asleep. He nursed fast and furious, and then was done. Jude cried when he needed something (food, diaper, or sleep). Thea – we had no idea why she cried, she just cried.
So I googled my little heart out, and tried everything. Baby wearing, supplementing with pumped milk, making sure she burped after every meal, nothing I did seemed to affect her, except giving her what she wanted (ie: nursing, or having someone hold her and walk). Well, a few months later, and while she still has trouble falling asleep, she sleeps like a champ, only waking maybe once during the night, sleeping until 7 or 8 am.
Jude falls asleep between 6-7pm every night without fail but often has little parties around 2 am. He needs to be soothed every 45 minutes or so. Oh, and he’s up for the day at 5am.
And then there’s nap times. They get so tired, but just won’t. Fall. Asleep.
So I do what I swore I would never do. I let them cry. I go back and forth to soothe them, but my babies cry. I can’t babywear one all day long, because I need to be parenting the other. I can’t let Thea nurse for her whole nap because Jude could wake up, and usually I need to nap too!
So sometimes I put Thea in the pack n’ play, and Jude in his crib (on separate floors of the house so that they don’t wake each other up) and I sit on the stairs and I let them cry. And they fall asleep. And they are better rested.
Sometimes they don’t fall asleep, and after a while I’ll pick one up, nurse Thea again, rock Jude for a bit, but then I put them back down.
Sometimes you have to get rid of those baby books, and stop googling and just do what needs to be done. My babies need to nap, and I’m only one person. It took me awhile to be okay with that.
Sometimes I panic when one of them stops crying, and I tiptoe up to them to make sure they’re still breathing. They are. They’re okay.
I’m starting to realize that the first year is all about survival. I have to do whatever it takes to survive this year without breaking my spirit. And sometimes, that means they cry, or maybe I cry, but sometimes we all have a good laugh too.