There are many issues that cause emotionally charged debates in the ‘mommy wars’, but as far as I have seen none elicit accusations, judgments and anger the way discussion of letting a baby ‘cry it out’ does. Those in favor think that if you don’t let your child cry you will create a spoiled, insecure, selfish and needy child. Those opposed think allowing it will create a cold and depressed child who does not trust his/her parents. Those in favor will cite scientific evidence claiming good sleep habits lead to healthier, smarter and happier children. Those opposed will cite scientific evidence indicating that excessive crying leads to permanent brain damage…So basically my choices are ruin my child or ruin my child? AWESOME
During Emma Grace’s newborn stage we decided to sleep train. This involved a good amount of crying, and I hated every minute. It was absolutely terrible, but absolutely worth it. Once Emma Grace learned to nap she was the happiest baby in the world. She woke up from TWO AND HALF HOUR naps smiling from ear to ear. Emma Grace was a nap champion from 2 months to 9 months. Did we have a few phases of readjusting because of various things like teething or learning to roll over? Of course, but as a whole she was an excellent napper and a very happy baby.
A few weeks ago her streak was broken. Emma Grace learned to pull herself up about a month ago, but is at a complete loss when it comes to sitting back down. At first this wasn’t a problem because she only stood up at the end of her naps, but now when we put her in her crib she stands up right away and is stuck. We started by just going in and putting her back down. It worked for a bit, but once she realized we were coming back she stopped staying down. Instead she started standing right back up and SCREAMING. I would break down quite quickly and get her. She got sick (probably because of the decrease in napping) and so I started letting her sleep on my chest. I knew it was probably a bad habit, but who doesn’t want to snuggle with their mommy when they are sick? WELL Emma Grace is no longer sick, but she most certainly still wants to nap with mommy.
She has to nap without me. It is so sweet when we snuggle, but it is just not possible for me to hold her for 2 naps a day every day. So a week ago I did it, I just let her cry. It was as awful that morning as it was 8 months ago. I got her after an hour and she was asleep the minute she hit my shoulder. Since then we have had a number of crying sessions, but we have also had some naps. She is a very stubborn little girl, one time has never been enough for her to learn. I am so thankful that we did this once before because I am confident it is the right choice for right now. Anyone who has spent time with Emma Grace on a good nap day knows that good naps make for an incredibly sweet, active, and playful child. Did I kill some brain cells when I let her cry? I really hope not. If I never let her cry and had to hold her 24 hours a day would I be a good mother? NOT A CHANCE. I’m not saying that holding your child all the times makes you a bad mother. I am saying that if I did so I would be a terrible mother. I would be angry and bitter. I would go back to not delighting in my daughter and wanting to run away. Not only is Emma Grace happier when she naps, but I am happier. I get a little time to read my Bible, read another book, catch up on a TV show, get some house work done, read about Penn State football, prepare for the classes I teach or even sometimes take a nap. Is that selfish? Maybe, but it doesn’t change the fact that right now I need that time. So for me there is only one choice…let her cry. It is heartbreaking. I hate every minute. I have to do it.
I hope if you are reading this post and are against crying it out you can at least see that I am not without a heart. I just want what is best for my family. I hope if you are for crying it out, you are reminded that it’s really hard and it isn’t for everyone. It is my prayer that everyone reading this will extend a little more grace to each other when it comes to differences of opinion. Shane and I are doing our best when it comes to raising Emma Grace, and God is going to redeem all that we do wrong. Every other parent is doing the same, so try to help each other out instead of tearing each other down.