Our third, and last, baby is now 5 months old. According to most sleep training books, this is the time that I should begin sleep training. Most methods involve some version of crying it out or putting the baby down to in their crib when they are “drowsy but not fully asleep.” I know this should be the time that I start brushing up on sleep training methods, but the truth of the matter is that I suck at sleep training. My whole family sucks at it. The kids have no desire to be trained. While I tend to be heartless about lots of other parenting methods (I can outlast my toddler on his 52 minute time out to pick up his trains), I just don’t have it in me to hear my children cry themselves to sleep. Unless of course they are in trouble for something awful, in which case those tears can serve as a reminder that they are not in fact rulers of this universe.
My spouse is even worse. He absolutely cannot stand to hear a baby cry ever. There must be something wrong. The baby must be hungry – even if she just ate 15 minutes ago. Or the baby needs a diaper change – if it was just changed after you fed her. Or the baby is sick – even if she is cool to the touch and shows no other signs of illness. His version of crying it out means letting your baby cry for 20 seconds. He’d never make it to the requisite 20 minutes. His bleeding heart would give out.
When our oldest was little, we lived in a tiny townhouse in San Mateo. If we let him cry it out, then our neighbors (who shared walls with us) got to listen to him cry it out too. So to be kind to the neighborhood, we would rock him until he fell asleep. As he got bigger, we would lay down with him until he fell asleep. He would often wake up in the middle of the night and come tip toeing into our bed. I would always complain, but we’d always make room for him. It only stopped when his baby brother was born 6 years later.
Due to lack of space – or really a lack of a 4th bedroom – our second son’s bedroom was our bedroom. While I dreamed of the day the boys would share a room, with a 6.5 year age gap I know that day wasn’t anytime soon. Coop’s crib was tucked into a corner of our master bedroom. And by tucked away, I mean that it was 8 inches away from our bed. If we let Cooper cry it out, we had to sleep on the couch for a few nights. There was no way that Cooper was going to self-soothe himself to sleep when his parents are within arms reach. Believe me, we tried.
When I found out I was pregnant with baby #3, we knew we had to move. So when I was almost six months pregnant, we did just that. We gained a fourth bedroom for Cooper and the new baby to share. But Cooper was used to sleeping in our bed more than he slept in his crib. Even the new shiny big boy bed wasn’t going to cut it as a consolation prize. I was too pregnant and too tired to fight him. He didn’t start sleeping in his own bed until the night we brought his sister home from the hospital. Talk about true middle child syndrome.
With baby girl, I haven’t even considered sleep training. I love rocking her to sleep in the darkness. I love listening to her breathes becomes slow, deep, and steady. I love how she sighs and sometimes even giggles during her dreams. In my heart, I know she’s our last baby… even if my ovaries want to try to convince the rest of me that having a fourth is a good idea. I don’t even mind getting up at 2 a.m. to feed her. So for now, I’ll admit defeat and be real about it.
We are officially dropping out of the Sleep Training Club. Revoke my membership. Black list me. I’ll be over here smelling the sweet smell that is my baby girl, regretting that I didn’t enjoy this more with the other two. And recognizing that I’ll be one sad, sappy mama when my bed is empty of the children who still try to sneak cuddles in the middle of the night.