Tuesday, October 29, 2013

You Could Drive A Person Crazy

Kurt and I decided to bite the bullet and get Monty sleep-trained.  We waited until we got his frenulum snipped to be sure that he wasn't having any nursing issues.  I was still feeding him every hour at four months when he should have been able to go AT LEAST two (ideally three) between feedings.  We were concerned that he wasn't getting enough at each feed because of his tongue tie, so we FINALLY got it taken care of.  It took us four minutes to decide whether wanted to cut the end of his penis, which contains 20,000 to 70,000 nerve endings, off or not.  It took us four months to decide whether we wanted to snip the tiny piece of tissue, with hardly any nerve endings, that was holding his tongue down to the bottom of his mouth, or not.  We got so much conflicting advice on it, including from a speech pathologist who told us the surgery would make Monty lose trust in us.  Because, you know, that's how babies work.  The surgery took 10 seconds.  I had to sit out in the hallway with my head between my legs.  Monty cried for 30 seconds and then was completely fine.  Although since then I'm pretty sure whenever he looks at me he thinks, "That's the cunt who made me feel pain that one time.  Who's to say she won't do it again someday.  HOW CAN I LIVE UNDER THESE CONDITIONS??!!"  Whatever.  His future partners will thank me.

Anyway, his tongue is normal now.

I skimmed The No-Cry Sleep Solution, The Sleep Easy Solution, the section on sleeping in Sears and Sears' Baby Book and talked to Monty's doctor and some friends.  My friends were letting their babies cry it out.  They were giving their babies the "gift of sleep", they said.  The Sleep Easy Solution requires charts and graphs and stickers and math.  There's also something about don't look at your baby and don't touch them.  I don't know what parent of an infant has the wherewithal for that.  The No-Cry Sleep Solution suggests checking in on your baby at intervals, eventually graduating to standing in the doorway of the nursery to reassure the baby to sleep.  So, in those intervals, what, exactly, is the baby doing if not crying?  And if he's not crying, why do I need to go in a reassure him?  "Hey, I know you're not upset, but I just want to tell you, just in case you were thinking of being upset, you know, don't."  I suppose just the fact that the author SAYS the baby isn't crying is enough?  The author also refers to placing one's baby in their crib as "dumping" them there.  Because nothing sells books like making people feel shitty about themselves.  Sears and Sears basically advocate letting your baby sleep in your bed until he's ready for college.

I built sleep training up in my mind as this nearly insurmountable nightmare that was going to leave all three of us scarred for life.  I was putting it off.  Monty was still nursing every hour or so and I told myself he wasn't ready to sleep for long stretches.  

I brought in a lactation consultant to help me figure out how to prolong the intervals between feedings.  She quickly determined that we were not having a nursing issue.  She asked me about his naps.  We were lucky if he slept 30 minutes for each nap.  She asked what time he took his naps. 
"What time?"  I asked.  She might as well have asked me how often I see unicorns.  "What TIME?  When he's tired.  I don't know."
"You don't put him down at set times?"
"You mean, awake?  Like put him in his crib,  just, awake?"
"Uh, no," (idiot) "I don't."
Monty rubbed his eyes.
"Why don't you put him down now."
She also suggested I put him down on his belly since he was rolling over constantly anyway.  (He can roll from front to back and back to front and can hold himself up, so don't get on me about SIDS.  I've done the reading.  If he dies of SIDS you can say you told me so, though if you do I will FUCKING HAUNT YOUR DREAMS.)
I put him in his crib, turned on the white noise and patted his back.  He cried.  Five minutes later I went back in and patted his back again and told him I loved him.  He cried.  Five minutes later I went in and patted his back and told him I love him. Three minutes later he was asleep.

And he slept for 

two hours and 45 minutes.

We tried the same method that night at bedtime.  Monty slept from 7pm to 2am, I fed him and then he slept again til 5:30am.  And that's how it's been for the most part.  Some nights he wakes up before 2 (which is when I've decided we'll do our nighttime feeding) and usually he wakes up once or twice in the second stretch.  We pat his back and tell him we love him.  Admittedly Kurt is better at this than I am.  

The longest Monty has cried has been about 30 minutes with 5 minute check-ins.  If he gets really worked up and is screaming, I usually fold and pick him up and start again.  The books say I'm erasing all the work we've done when I pick him up.  Oddly enough though, the next time is usually easier.  He goes to sleep faster and with less fuss.  

Last week I browsed a couple books on sleep at the yoga studio.  Big mistake.  Both told me I was basically abusing my child for not letting him sleep in our bed and/or running to him the moment he makes a peep.  Never mind the fact that babies need their sleep and my son sleeps BETTER in his own crib.  When I read "children who are left to cry in their cribs grow up to be emotionally unstable adults" I closed the book.  It was written by Dr. Paul Fliess, Monty's first pediatrician.  It's worth noting here that Dr. Fliess's daughter is Heidi Fliess.  The infamous Hollywood Madam.  So, I DEFINITELY want to follow his child rearing advice.

Last night we put Monty in his crib at 7pm.  Despite the fact that, according to Dr. Fliess, we were traumatizing him by leaving him alone, he didn't cry or fuss.  We watched him on the monitor for 15 minutes while he rolled around, chewed on his pacifier and rubbed his lovey on his face. And then he fell asleep.  This morning, when he woke up, he was all smiles and cuddles.  Clearly traumatized.  Clearly emotionally unstable.

Here's the thing about child rearing books.  Fuck them.  Need to know how to set up a safe sleep environment?  Look in a book.  Need to know roughly how many hours of sleep your baby needs according to their age?  Look in a book.  Need to know how high a fever can get before it's dangerous?  Look in a book.  

The rest of it you already know how to do. 

Here's some pictures of my abused, traumatized child at a pumpkin patch with his pal, Frida, on Saturday: