Where I Stand on 'Cry It Out'Casey Mullins
Ever witnessed a heated debate and noticed there’s always two or three people sitting way back in their chairs, hands in their lap and doing their best to avoid being dragged into the middle of whatever is being discussed? Sometimes they look around with desperation hoping someone else shares the discomfort they’re experiencing and once they do, wordless exchanges of “This $%#@ is crazy!” go unspoken between them.
That’s me on most topics when it comes to parenting.
Today I’m sitting in the corner about the whole “cry it out” debate.
Cry it out and I have a long standing and brutal history. Any mother who experienced postpartum depression will most likely say the same thing. Sometimes the baby has to cry it out because on occasion the mother is too busy crying herself and trying to survive.
When my oldest was born, my husband worked graveyards. I was left to night duty all by myself, solo night duty with a crying newborn is as harsh a buttwhooping if I’ve ever received one. To make matters worse we lived in a tiny one bedroom apartment where escaping her screams was impossible. Despite my resolve to never let my baby sleep in a swing (aww, I was so naive) one night I strapped my screaming 4 week old baby in the swing, shut the door behind me, buried my head under a pillow and cried until I fell asleep.
I woke up an hour later to find her sleeping peacefully in the swing. I moved her to her crib and went back to bed realizing that a baby falling asleep in a swing on occasion so I could keep my wits about me was not the end of the world.
With my second, I have not had to deal with crippling postpartum depression or dealing with night duties alone. Only a handful of times were there nights when we were both so spent an exhausted that we put our tiny screaming baby in a swing and fell asleep, exhausted, on the floor in front of her. Both of our babies had something click in them around 4 months that said “I am now tired, I shall proceed to fall asleep.” Before that click no amount of solo screaming could convince them otherwise.
Now that Vivi is eight months old I know when she is tired. I know when she’s had enough and a nap is the only option left. I know that in order for her to submit to sleep she needs to be fed, changed, snug and warm. I also know that if I were to attempt to rock her or lull her into submission she would only demand that I play with her and PLAY WITH HER RIGHT NOW.
So once she is fed, changed, snuggled and supine, I walk away.
She then proceeds to wail as though I have just kicked puppies and told her Santa is a fraud.
I close the door. She whimpers.
She falls asleep.
One of the great things about being the moms we are to these little humans is that we know when something is off. We know when someone doesn’t feel good or act right. So when a mom admits to letting her baby “cry it out” chances are she isn’t just simply throwing a baby in a crib because she’s got better things to do allowing them to scream it out on their own. Chances are she knows her baby so well that she knows that crying for a bit is the only thing left.
If it doesn’t work? Then we start the dance all over.