My daughter is sobbing from the other room, trapped in her yet unused crib and my heart is shattering with every wail. I’d rather be the one in there, shrieking and red-faced, my hands clutching the crib rails until my knuckles turn the same shade of white. A million times over, I wish it were me.
After 12 months less 5 days of “oh she’s very happy but not so much a sleeper,” I picked up the Weissbluth book that had been gathering dust bunnies under my bedside table. I’ve had the book since Thalia was born a year ago. I didn’t open it until now because while I needed–desperately needed–his council on solving her sleep issues, I was afraid of the admonishments.
My fears were confirmed.
The book is filled with boxes that highlight “practical points” like
WARNING: PERSISTENT SLEEPING PROBLEMS IN CHILDREN HAVE BEEN LINKED TO PSYCHIATRIC SYMPTOMS IN ADOLESCENTS, HYPERACTIVITY IN CHILDREN, AND DEPRESSION IN THEIR MOTHERS.
YOU ARE HARMING YOUR CHILD WHEN YOU ALLOW UNHEALTHY SLEEP PATTERNS TO PERSIST…AS UNHEALTHY AS PROVIDING A NUTRITIONALLY DEFICIENT DIET.
So it’s not gut-wrenching enough that she’s crying her brains out, screaming herself hoarse. Now I realize I’m an utter and complete failure as a mother too. I’ve apparently denied her the essential ability to self-soothe, meaning she’s going to have A.D.D., copious emotional problems, probably herpes, and certainly an obsession with torturing small animals. I wouldn’t be surprised if the next little box in the book says,
WARNING: AILEEN WUORNOS DID NOT SLEEP THROUGH THE NIGHT UNTIL SHE WAS TWELVE. I’M JUST SAYIN’…
I want to take it all out on Nate. It would be so easy to point the finger at him, the man who spent the last eight months saying, “just one more month in the bed. Just one more week. Just one more season…” It would sure make me feel a lot better to say I told you so and so I’m working really hard to resist it. Because I’m complicit here too. Which makes me hate myself more because I wonder whether I compromised my daughter in some way just to avoid another fight.
The crazy part of all of this is that I know letting her cry in the crib is the right thing to do. For my sanity, for Nate and my relationship, and most of all for Thalia. So if you’re thinking about suggesting there’s some sort of cruelty in allowing a child to cry, save it. I’m really not in the fucking mood.
For the record, my nightly routine for the past year has consisted of bringing Thalia into bed with me around 7:00, where I lie, silent and in the dark with my daughter for up to two hours or longer, while she crawls, squirms, babbles, cries, struggles, sits up, laughs at the cat and pretty much does anything besides sleep.
Two hours a night. Every night for a year.
I took the entire first six months while I was breastfeeding. The next six months have been pretty much 50/50 between Nate and me. So you do the math.
It’s now been 57 minutes. She’s quiet. I creep to the bedroom, so grateful for this forum. If I wasn’t writing about this, I’d probably just be drinking. Wait a minute, I am drinking. Drinking and blogging. I swore I never would, but extreme circumstances and all…
I push open the bedroom, wincing as it creeks. I crane my head around the dresser, searching for Thalia in the crib. I find her.
She’s sound asleep. Standing up.