I Feel Like a Bad Mom For Letting My Baby Cry It Out
Evan calls my name as if the syllables are his salvation. In his active and developing 9-month-old mind, I am his everything. I hold the keys to sleep, food, comfort and sometimes, even fun. (Although he laughs a lot more with his da-da.) I rub his hair and stroke his back when he topples over and hits his head on his drummer toy. So pretty much every day. I am his Goddess. His maaaa. His mama. And he calls on me during nap time when I put him in his crib.
You see, Evan refuses to nap. Before members of the Mom Army come at me, he’s been like this since birth. He was only 4 hours old when he cried his head off after I tried getting him to sleep. I breastfed him, burped him and he passed out on my left boob. Sound asleep, my little angel. Until I put him in the bassinet. His little head hit the firm mattress and he cried bloody murder. I picked him up, feeling guilty and exhausted after a 23-hour labor and an unexpected c-section. I soothed my baby boy and he fell fast asleep, my little angel. Until I put him back in his bassinet.
This happened all day and night while I was at the hospital. “How do I get him to stay asleep?!” I cried to the night nurse. She said she would show me. I watched as she rocked Evan while whispering “shhhhh” in his ear and lay him down where he belonged. Silence.
“Thank you so much!” I whispered, afraid to wake him. The door locked behind the nurse and I finally closed my eyes. 10 minutes… “waaaa waaa waaa!”
I’ve been screwed even since.
So when Evan took to napping in his car seat/stroller (the Greco Click Connect) I didn’t fight it. He was napping without Dave or I having to hold him for 15 minutes. He was napping longer than 30 minutes. He was napping. Period. And although I knew I would create a bad habit, I couldn’t let this easy fix go. Whenever the back of his head lay on the carseat cushion, he passed out like he took a Xanax with his che che. I wasn’t messing with the magic juice. Until he decided he didn’t want to sleep in his stroller anymore.
We are now back at Square 1. It’s not zero; he needs to be rocked before napping, not held. One day it took 20 minutes to get him down. And Evan doesn’t want me to rock him while I sit comfortably on the sofa or my bed. Nooo! This kid wants me to stand and rock him. And pace. And bounce. My arms feel like jello. #MomWorkout
One day I was extra exhausted and decided to pull the baby plug. I listened to every mom blog and forum and tried the Ferber Method, also known as Cry It Out. Evan rubbed his eyes and yawned – cues he’s ready for a siesta. I kissed him, turned off the lights, said “I love you, Dada loves you, now go to sleep, I’ll see you soon,” and lay him in his crib. I walked away. Seconds later, the crying began. Two minutes later, he was sobbing, screaming, “Mama! Maaaa!” My kid, my 9-month old boy who does not cry, who only sheds tears when really hurt (like the time he fell of the bed, but that’s another #badmom story), was blubbering, shrieking. I felt like someone ripped out my heart, stomped on it and tattooed Bad Mom only inches away from an artery before placing it back inside my chest cavity. That’s how bad I felt. Because I don’t believe in letting a child cry till he falls asleep. Say what you will but I don’t believe it’s the right approach for me. But, sleep depravation, the Mom Army and fear of dependency (will he need me to rock him to sleep when he’s 3?!) leads mamas to do many things. Especially things we aren’t comfortable with.
After 10 minutes I couldn’t take it anymore. I picked up my baby boy, kissed him all over his wet face, and cried with him.
I’m a pussy, I know. That’s what Dave says anyway. He walked in from work and I cried some more as I told him this very story. “You’re such a pussy,” he said again. “Yup,” I replied. This pussy is okay with it. What matters to me is that I am making the best parenting decisions for myself and Evan, as I know my little boy best. What matters is that I follow my intuition and do whatever I can to protect my boy and provide him with peace, happiness and joy. I’m his mama, after all. Salvation.