How To Survive The 5 Stages Of Sleep Training Grief

Sleep training sucks. People will tell you stories about their baby that slept through the night from the moment he popped out of the womb with a bottle of his mom’s favorite Chardonnay in one hand and his Nobel Prize in the field of Infancy in the other; they will offer you books called The No-Cry Sleep Solution and The Sleepeasy Solution. These people are liars and these books are, too. The word “easy” has no place in sleep training. There will be blood tears. Many of them will be yours.

Sleep training your child will take you on a whirlwind tour of the stages of grief, and you’ll do it while staggeringly sleep deprived yourself. But you can make it through the bedlam with the help of Mommyish, and of course, the patron saint of put-upon motherhood, Kitty Forman. Put on your big kid pants: it’s going to be a long night.

1. Denial

Haha! Wow! That little guy is quite a screamer. He sure can’t sustain that volume for very long; can he? No, he’ll probably get himself to sleep by the time Mom and Dad’s bedtime rolls around … or at least, this is what you should keep telling yourself. Go in and check on the little dude every 5-10 minutes as needed, and in the intervals, lock yourself in the bathroom with your favorite cocktail. As you sip, stare into the mirror and say firmly, “This is only temporary,” until you mostly believe it.

2. Anger

Oh my god. No human being should be able to scream this long unabated. By now, you’ve been in his room about twelve hundred times and he stops crying just long enough for you to escape back out the door. You are probably beginning to wonder if this is actually your child, or actually a changeling swapped into his place by an evil fairy. IMPORTANT: do not put the baby on the porch with a sign indicating that his real fairy parents should come collect him. Your baby is not a changeling. No, he is not possessed either. No, he is not the Antichrist. He is just an angry baby, and he’s all yours.

Just in case the baby takes after you, make a note for yourself to call your mother tomorrow and apologize for being such a little shit. Then pour yourself a second cocktail, return to the shelter of the bathroom for another 10 minute stint, and turn the bathroom fan on to blunt the edge of the screams at least a little bit. If needed, turn the shower on and stick your head under the water. Pretend it is a cool waterfall on a beautiful tropic isle where nobody is screaming at all.

3. Bargaining

It’s ridiculous o’clock by now and the baby hasn’t quieted yet. Are you thinking about going into the baby’s room and offering to buy him a pony if he’ll just. go. to sleep? Do not do this. Babies are tiny tyrants who are immune to reason.You will end up buying him a whole stable of ponies and he’s still not going to sleep.

Instead, bargain with yourself. You are allowed to finish the box of Oreos in the pantry if you can go five more minutes with running sobbing out into the night. You can binge-watch Scandal on Netflix all weekend if you can get through the night without going into the baby’s room and yelling, “STOP IT STOP IT STOP IT STOOOOOP.” You might have the emotional fortitude of a two-year-old by now, but you are still a better candidate for bartering than the baby is. Probably.

4. Depression

It’s three o’clock in the morning. The longest stretch the baby has slept for is twelve and a half minutes. You’re out of rum. He’s fading, but so are you. If you give in now it’s as if you’ve completely wasted the rest of the horrible, sleepless night, but if you don’t, you won’t even get that sad little two hours of sleep that you might be able to squeeze in by caving.

Be strong and hold firm. Or don’t, and go drag your squalling kiddo into bed with you yet again. Both decisions suck, but you’ve made it this far without getting in your car and driving to the Grand Canyon while Junior stays behind to wail in his crib, so in my book you’re doing just fine.

5. Acceptance

Eventually, sleep training will win out and your baby will sleep through the night (whether that’s eight hours or twelve). Or you’ll quit sleep training and resign yourself to sleeping on the floor next to a crib until your child graduates college. Either way, at some point, you too will have the opportunity to sleep again someday, and it’s going to feel like unicorns are chasing rainbows across your brain! But maybe that’s just the hallucinations from all the previous months of sleep deprivation finally kicking in. Maybe don’t drive anywhere or operate any heavy machinery for a day or two – just to be on the safe side.

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