Childrearing

Anonymous Mom: I’m Secretly Sleep Training My Friend’s AP Baby

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Instead of holding him on my lap while I peed, I sat him on a blanket on the floor with his toys for the whole minute and a half. He screamed with such fury it was shocking, but it cut the bathroom time down by five minutes. As my pregnancy progressed past eight months, I couldn’t baby-wear him constantly while I cooked, so I’d set him on the floor with jangly metal measuring spoons so I could have a rest for a few minutes at a time. He screamed.

Some of Willow’s classes last six to eight hours a day. Sometimes classes end after 10:30 p.m., and Noah would not sleep if he wasn’t on a boob. He would stay awake, sweaty, angry, inconsolable while I walked, sang, talked, played, cuddled, and remembered not to show him my frustration or anxiety (since that’s also harmful, according to Willow). All to no avail! I traumatized him constantly with my failure to comfort him. Exhausted, and at the end of my rope, a close friend introduced me to Ferber.

And slowly, I set out to sleep train him.

I’ve never heard such ungodly furious screams in my life. But gradually he could peacefully have a nap or go to bed and fall asleep. The sleep training makes him happier when he’s awake, and it’s been heaven for me to sit nearby and put my swollen feet up. Willow has mentioned very sadly that sometimes he doesn’t seem to need her as much, that sometimes he falls asleep before she can offer him some breast time/play/cuddle time.

He wants her to set him down to walk sometimes! He sleeps! He can play on the floor by himself for 10 minutes or so! But I worry that I’m disconnecting the bond Willow craves between them.

Noah doesn’t want to be held 24/7 now and has other interests other than his mother’s face and complete attention, which makes her so sad.

But all I know is sleep training is good for the relationship between Noah and I. We have an understanding; I love him dearly, and between his two caregivers, he seems to know the different rules. He knows I’m the one who says “no” to him, but that I’ll still respond quickly if he has an actual need. He knows I will not automatically jump to stuff his face full of baby food or snackies in a desperate attempt to fend off the wails when he’s not content, or leap to distract him if he’s bored. He knows I won’t hover to prevent him from toppling over during his adventures. We’ll sit on the floor, side by side, while I do a Yoga DVD and he bangs toys together, in perfect harmony.

And at bedtime, he will sometimes wail, waiting to be saved from bedtime by his mother. But when I’m on duty, he knows it won’t happen.

I’m due to have my baby in less than a week, and I wonder if Willow will have any secrets about how she spends time with my baby when my school semester starts. But, I figure, I’ve maybe got it coming.

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(photo: Gold Stock Images / Shutterstock)

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