Cry it Out is one of those topics you will come across, and will end up making a decision on, when you become a parent. When I was pregnant I was the kind of mom-to-be that researched everything. Twice. I quickly realized that you can find anything to support the decisions you make as a mother. If you are pro scheduling there will be tons of articles. If you are against CIO, again plenty of articles to support that frame of mind. I learned I had to make the decisions I felt comfortable with and not base them on what others were doing. What works for me, may not work for others, and vice versa. As I read these articles I could feel myself being pulled towards not allowing my daughter to cry herself to sleep. I have always been a sensitive and “feeling” based person. The second anyone starts to cry (in real life or on the television) I tear up right alongside them. I will over think things but always end up going with my heart. So when it came down to it, I knew a schedule, and in particular Cry it Out (CIO), wouldn’t work for me. The stress of hearing my baby crying herself to sleep would be a much worse fate than losing some sleep myself.
I truly believe my miscarriage started my journey as a mother. It was from then on I vowed to cherish every moment of my sweet children’s lives. I truly believe most, if not all mothers have this goal, and for me it just meant letting my baby lead our schedule. As a stay at home mom, I have the opportunity of doing this and as someone who has dealt with insomnia since the age of 13 I had a lot of practice with sleepless nights!
Early on I read an article on Nursable called, “The WIO (Wait it out) Method”. It had my name written all over it. I knew it was exactly how I would handle the sleep situation with our daughter. Basically I would wait out her rough sleeping times and go to her however many times she cried throughout the night. I have both nursed and rocked her to sleep. It’s definitely not for everyone. It can be exhausting, and draining, but it has also been very rewarding for me. I am sure CIO moms would say the exact same thing about their technique! Blair was an amazing newborn and at just 6 weeks old started sleeping 7-8 hour stretches at night followed by a shorter 2-3 hour stretch. I thought we had it made at night! During the day she was the queen of power naps. She never napped for longer than 30 minutes but it was something I could deal with. Then when she turned 12 weeks old chaos ensued. She started waking up every one and a half to two hours throughout the night. I honestly thought I was going to lose my mind. My confidence in myself as a mother and the decisions I had made wavered. I re-read the WIO article and decided then and there to expect my daughter to wake up and to attempt to cherish those moments. A few nights later I was rocking Blair back to sleep around four am and I started to sing one of my favorite hymns. She instantly looked up at me and gave me the sweetest smile. She then snuggled into me and fell asleep. This is such a small moment, but for a baby who normally has no time for cuddling, I drank it all in. Babies will not wake up all night forever and I knew one day I would miss our late night cuddle sessions.
So far this method has paid off in the nap department. My little power napper has now consistently taken all of her short naps and put them into three 1-2 hour naps. She has, in a sense, put herself on a schedule. Even better is the fact that I never had to wean her from the pre nap rocking. She did it on her own. One day I was rocking her and she was getting very fussy so I set her down in her crib. She flipped over on her stomach, talked to herself for a little bit and went to sleep! I was amazed. The time I have on my hands now is incredible! I can put makeup on, clean our house, and cook dinner all while she is napping! There are plenty of times I choose to nap instead, because let’s face it motherhood is exhausting, but I theoretically could do all of those things!
One thing I think is genuinely important is having a supportive husband whether you decide against CIO or you decide you are all for it! There are many nights when I cannot go rock her because if I do she automatically thinks she needs to eat. Regardless of when I last fed her. This has lead to some unfortunate overeating and throwing up episodes. So my husband will go in and put her back to sleep. Luckily for him this only happens in the early part of the evening. She generally only wakes twice to eat now. The fact that he is not only on-board with this decision but also agrees with me makes it so much easier in my times of weakness. He is there to support me when I am tired and remind me of why I have chosen this parenting route. I will suggest embracing the beauty in reevaluation. Blair is only six months old. Right now this works for me. At 12 months old if she still isn’t sleeping through the night I may reevaluate my non scheduled lifestyle. (I personally can’t see me deciding to CIO but you never know!) Parenthood is about being flexible and being willing to change when something isn’t working for you and your family!