Oh How I Miss You

By: Melissa Mensavage

Right now as I sit here and write this, Max is in his crib crying.  We are going through a phase where he will not sleep in his crib.  I think I might have created this habit by bringing him into bed with me.

This probably all started with an illness or teething episode months back.  I am sure at the time I was thinking (in fact I know I was) that when he starts feeling better, he’ll go back to sleeping in his crib.

I started this horrible habit because, you see, I can’t stand the crying part.  It breaks my heart to listen to it, knowing all he wants is to be with me.  And here I am being a big meanie, and not caving into his request.  I don’t mind that he sleeps in bed with me, but it’s starting to get more difficult.  A couple of nights ago I woke to a “face massage”, ie, Max was ever so kindly pressing his feet into my face.  There have been the nights where he’s fallen out of my bed, and when I run to that side I can’t see him because the covers went with him.

Needless to say, I am not getting any restful sleep.

So, here we are, going on 10 minutes of non-stop crying.  I’ve already been into his room twice now.  Once I took him out of the crib and rocked him back to sleep.  But as soon as I make any movement towards the crib, Boom! He’s up.

I’ve read a couple of books on sleep training, even talked to the pediatrician.  Wait 15 minutes, then go in and talk to him or pick him up but don’t leave the room.  My favorite (insert sarcasm because I just don’t see how this works): talk to him from the doorway.  I can say I’ve tried these half-heartedly.

I go back and forth in my head with pros and cons about actually following through with the sleep training.

–he gets a restful night of sleep in his own bed
–he’ll know the bedtime routine and that means all night in his room
–he’ll eventually get it that I’m in charge and that he can’t always get what he wants
–he’ll learn how to soothe himself

–I can’t stand the crying
–I don’t like being mean
–I don’t sleep.

Obviously the pros outweigh the cons, but it’s a hard road getting there.  Probably doesn’t help that I am not fully committed to this plan.  Being the sole parent, I don’t get a break, so bringing him to bed with me is my way of saying, “Honey your turn.”  So each night this happens (it’s not every night), I’ll head toward his room in an almost coherent state, pick him up, and we snuggle up together in my big comfy bed.  We’ll both fall back asleep almost instantly.

Tonight though, I’m awake and I am off to pick up my little boy to see if I can get him to sleep.  Maybe tonight I can pull off the 3AM transfer without a hitch!


  1. says

    In my opinion you are doing the right thing. Sleeping in your bed can only lead to more issues. I say use the old fashion let him cry and the next night it will be half the time and so forth. Otherwise when he gets in a big bed he won’t stay in it and then one night you will have to use the plan that every time he gets out of his bed you put him back until he is so tired of doing this dance and so tired at school he will know he must sleep in his own bed. Just my two cents and my being almost 63 and working in a pediatrician’s office for years back in the day.

  2. says

    Melissa, I feel your pain. I’ve been on this same fence many times, and the situation and how I deal with changes depending on so many things… his age, the things going on in his life, his health, my own sanity, etc. There are times when you need to put on your own oxygen mask before helping someone else with their own. You son is not going to be traumatized for life by crying it out on occasion, and learning to self comfort is a key to independence as they get older. You have to balance it all. When he’s sick or you’re exhausted the choice might be one way, and when you are absolutely losing your mind and need some sleep, the choice might go the other way. You will get through it. one day at a time. hang in there. Just when you think you’ve got part of it figured out they change. :)

  3. Stacie says

    This is a very controversial subject, and if this is being read, chances are you’ll get a lot of adamant responses.There’s a reason why “sleep training” is so hard on mothers. We are not programmed for it. Countless studies have proven that it is physiologically and psychologically hard on the child. I heartily suggest Elizabeth Pantley’s No-Cry Sleep Solution for a plan that is easier on the child and mom. I never had an issue with my children leaving their beds at night ever, unless they had a nightmare or to go to the bathroom. Also, children go through natural phases in their development when they need to know that you can be relied upon to respond when they need you. Once that need is filled and they are secure in that knowledge, they move on. My concern was failing to fulfill that need at that stage of development, so I always responded to a cry. Conversely, my friend’s child, who was sleep trained, had to work herself up to hysteria before her mother would finally respond. More than once, mom found said child sleeping in vomit, or in an exploded or soaked-through diaper. Yeah, they’ll learn to go to sleep on their own, but do we always want them to?

  4. says

    I dread having to deal with this… I know it can be super painful for moms and there are so many theories on what to do and how to do it. I think we have to do what is right for us and our baby at that time…always remembering the consequences of our choices longer term.

  5. Tashia says

    It is a difficult subject that often brings out very divergent opinions. All I can tell you is a synopsis of my experience. Nobody can tell you what will work best for you and and your child, you’ll have to figure that out for yourself…

    I was initially anti-sleep training. I read the same information that Stacie mentioned, and I couldn’t bear the thought of traumatizing my child in that way. However, I had a very fussy, high-needs baby who needed to be bounced to sleep, and whose sleep patterns were never very good, but definitely deteriorated as she approached 6 months of age, I believe because of separation anxiety. She woke up every 1-2 hours, and I had to spend 20 minutes bouncing her to sleep every time. I really did try many other ways to get her back to sleep – the pat and shush method, staying close by but quiet, white noise, soothing music, etc. Nothing else worked. I was becoming extremely sleep-deprived and the quality of my daughter’s sleep was certainly suffering as well. I found that I could no longer function well at work, and so I decided to try Ferber method sleep training when she was 7.5 months old.

    It was not easy at all. It was hard on both of us. But with the Ferber method you don’t let them cry forever, you go in at increasing intervals. At first in can be as little as 1 minute, then 3 minutes, then 5 minutes, then gradually increasing the intervals; you can vary the intervals as you wish as long as they do get increasingly longer. At most 20 minutes or so before you go in. You’ll hear about all kind of success stories with this method, where it took only 3 nights for the kid to learn to self-soothe and sleep 10 hours straight. Not mine! It was more like a month before I saw any real improvement, and it was definitely not 10 hours straight. But neither was it every 1-2 hours. Eventually it stretched to 3, 4, 5 hours straight. And at some point (I couldn’t say when exactly, but she was over a year old), she started having occasional nights where she did sleep straight through. At 2 years old, she still often cries at night and needs me to check on her before she’ll go back to sleep. But just the once unless she’s sick or uncomfortable. There’s no more crying and waiting intervals. It’s a quick trip in, reassurance, and back to sleep. And she’s able to sleep through the night much more often now as well.

    While I still think that sleep training may not be the best way to go for some kids and parents, and I don’t necessarily think it should be done with all kids who are waking up frequently at night crying, I do think there are some cases in which it may be necessary, and I think it was in our case. She needed to learn how to go to sleep on her own, and I needed to sleep in stretches more than 1-2 hours at a time. While it’s certainly possible that she would have done this on her own naturally, I’m sure it would have taken longer without sleep training. Both parent and child need sleep to function well, and while it may be very hard in the short run, in the long run it can pay off. In my case, too, the sleep deprivation was affecting my mood in a very bad way, and I lost my patience much easier than when I was better rested. Being a good parent means taking care of yourself as well.

    One thing I do want to advise, however, is that you be consistent with whatever method you try. That’s not to say you can’t be flexible – some nights when he’s emotionally upset or physically sick or uncomfortable you will need to put the kid in your bed or stay with him in his room to comfort him (I chose to put a twin mattress on the floor of my daughter’s room rather than bring her to my bed), and that’s OK. But the majority of the time you should be consistent.

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