Thank you to everyone for your comments and emails and calls. Fellow Moms are amazing support and I can't thank all of you enough. (And thank you to my non-Mommy friends, too!)
I learned (the hard way) that sometimes I need to ask for help. Sometimes I really need to take a nap. Sometimes I need to get out to a yoga class. Sometimes I just need a mini-break to go for a run to clear my head. Because when I'm exhausted? Everything seems way worse than it is. Things really aren't that bad.
Anna is 7 months now (in a few days) and since I feel like I've tried absolutely everything in the past 2 and a half months to get her to sleep with no luck... I'm trying something I said I would NEVER do. (Doesn't the whole "I never..." thing go hand-in-hand with Motherhood?)
So. Here it is. I'm going to let Anna cry.*** (***There's a BIG, FAT "but" attached to that.)
I'm going to let her cry a little... BUT...
- I'm going to try staying in the room with her and speaking softly to her and shhh-ing her so she knows I'm still there.
- I'm going to still give her her soother if it falls out of her mouth because she can't quite figure out how to grab it and put it back in yet.
- I'm going to go to her immediately when she cries in the middle of the night... I just won't pick her up. I'll keep shh-ing her and replacing her soother until she falls back asleep.
There it is. My method.
Back when I was pregnant and even when Anna was teeny tiny, I used to hear the Moms who said they let their babies cry and I silently thought to myself, "I would never do that. That's just teaching your baby that you won't be there for them."
Then Anna started having these crying fits and I realized that all the attachment parenting techniques in the world weren't helping Anna relax and sleep better.
So... whether you agree with the technique or not, I feel in my Mama gut that this is okay for Anna. She used to be a good sleeper. She's happy as can be during the day when she's awake. She wakes up happy in her crib, and smiles at me with the biggest, brightest gummy grin every morning when I go to get her up. I have a feeling I won't be ruining her by trying this out.
******Edited to add: I started this blog before I had fully tried the whole cry method. Now, I've tried it for 2 nights and 1 day of naps. Here's my progress so far:
- Did Anna's bedtime routine with her (dinner, bath, jammies, book, then cuddle for a bit).
- Put her in her crib awake. She cried pretty much non-stop for 30-40 minutes when she realized I wasn't going to pick her up. But I stood there and just kept saying to her "It's just bed time honey", "Mommy's here" and "Time for sleep Anna... that's all".
- After 30-40 minutes she fell asleep.
- During the night she woke up 3 times. Once was just for her soother (and then she went right back to sleep) and twice she cried non-stop for 20 minutes while I repeated the whole process of talking to her.
- Then she slept soundly until 8am and woke up happy.
- Did the nighttime routine and put her down awake again.
- This time she cried off and on for 15 minutes and then fell asleep.
- She woke up a half an hour later crying. I tried shh-ing her, then just popped her soother back in her mouth and she immediately fell back asleep.
- During the night, she woke up 4 times (instead of just 3 like the previous night), but she just needed her soother 3 of the 4 times, and only cried off-and-on for about 20 minutes the other time.
- She slept until 6:45 (her usual wake-up time) talking to herself and making happy noises.
During naps, she goes to sleep within 5 minutes and sometimes stays asleep for an hour or more. (Although, she still takes just a half hour nap sometimes, too).
So I think it's going pretty well. Anna's already crying less at bedtime, which is my main goal. And she's happy... that's the most important thing.
I have a feeling this is going to be a long process to get her to actually stay asleep all night - but at least it's getting better.
So there you have it. I said I'd never do it and I'm doing it. Next thing you know, I'll be putting Anna on a leash before taking her out places.
(Oh man, I hope not.)