Letting Everett “cry it out” has been the best parenting decision I’ve made so far. In my attempts to get him to nap, I put aluminum foil on the nursery window (for blackout purposes), bought an awesome swaddle transition blanket for him and got a yoga ball to bounce him to sleep. All of these things made a wonderful difference. With these changes, I could get him to cat nap for about 40 minutes, three or four times a day. Compared to a month ago, I felt like I was doing fantastic.
But I was exhausting all my energy bouncing and bouncing him to sleep and eventually it caught up to me. Sometimes (well, a lot of the time) he would wake up five minutes after I’d put him down, and then of course I would cradle and bounce him until he fell asleep again. And if sleep failed a third time, I would just take him out of the nursery and bring him downstairs to use his play mat or something. That usually backfired twenty-five minutes later, when the poor thing was cranky and sleep deprived.
I finally realized I was making him miserable, while making my day SO much harder than it had to be. I knew in my gut what the answer was—let him cry. We started this new trial on Tuesday, and he only cried for thirteen minutes for each nap, knocking right out afterwards. On Wednesday he cried for ten minutes, and today only two. Even nights are all of a sudden easier now. And the blanket we got him, called the zipadee-zip, allowed him to suck his fingers (opposed to the swaddle) so he learned to soothe himself! Very quickly too.
I was so so scared to let him cry because of what I read on the internet. I fixated on when it was appropriate and how old a baby should be before they can soothe themselves and so forth. And let’s face it, it’s hard to hear your baby cry and not go get them. Well, that’s at least true with the first born before you know any better.
I was desperately asking other mothers on their opinion, and of course, everyone said something different. Because there really are as many answers as there are babies (Allison’s boyfriend’s Mom said that to me the other day and I thought it was brilliant).
When you become a mother, it’s up to you to decide what is right, what is wrong, what works, and the fine lines between.
When you become a mother, you are forced to make “big girl” decisions, and there really is no set guide, no right or wrong way to solve certain issues.
When you become a mother, you have to trust yourself beyond belief. You have to go through trial and error and problem solve and filter through all the advice you receive. You decide what is best yourself.
When you become a mother, you have to love love love to your fullest. I saw you love your kids and sacrifice so much for us. Under it all, that is the most important thing I can take with me as a mom myself–just love.
I understand now that even if you were here, telling me to do this or do that, I probably wouldn’t listen anyways (you know how I am). And your advice probably wouldn’t have worked because Everett isn’t a baby that you raised. He is mine, and I need to be brave and strong and accept the fact that I AM A MOM myself. I don’t think that has fully sunk in yet. I haven’t really “owned up” to this role.
It’s funny. You pop a baby out (or quite literally become a raging warrior to push it out) and unbeknownst to you, you become an entire different person with an entire new set of responsibilities with absolutely no “for real” clear cut information. Instinct is your best friend but in this day in age we are so far removed from that. We rely on our parents wayyyyyy more than our parents did with theirs, and we rely on the interent and other people’s opinions on everything. From what we wear, what we eat, what we do with our kids.
Honestly, this is all true.
There is so much responsibility to the title “Mom.” Not just lack of sleep or loss of independent freedom like the stigma says. But mental toughness, problem solving ability, mastery of multi-tasking and the ability to love beyond what you ever thought possible. And it’s scary to love that hard–your own life’s happiness depends on it always existing.
I’m understanding that even if you were still alive, it would ultimately be up to me to decide whether or not to let Everett cry. It would be up to me to know when he’s old enough to start eating food and so forth. Yes your advice would be golden and I’m sure very accurate but when it comes down to it, Everett is mine and I have all the answers. I just need to stop thinking that you do and I don’t and because you aren’t here, motherhood is so hard.
Motherhood would still be hard with you here. Motherhood would still be hard if I had a million dollars. Motherhood would still be hard if I didn’t stay home full time. Motherhood will always be hard and it is shaping and changing me at such a fast pace I cannot catch grip sometimes.
But I can say, I like who I am becoming.