Moms often have a pre-conceived idea about how they're going to parent: how they're going to put their babies to bed, are they going to use pacifiers, are they going to vaccinate, homebirth or hospital birth, disposable or cloth diapering, the list goes on and on. I too had these lofty ideas of the perfect way to love and nurture my children. I would say that I follow attachment parenting and love the reasons why breastfeeding, co-sleeping, baby-wearing, etc have come to be loved by many parents. I have to admit that if the hard-core AP mom looks at me, she may not think that this fits me all the time. I have come to realize that my children don't strictly fit a certain "mold" and I have to tailor my parenting strategies according to their needs, likes, or even what's working best for our family no matter what anyone else thinks the right way may be.
My husband and I have recently grown weary of the thought of putting Baby Blue to bed. She's such an angel and I have loved nursing her to sleep and then letting her sleep in our bed so that I could roll over and nurse her when she wanted to. However, for the past few months it hasn't been as nostalgic as it was in the beginning. This happened with Ruby Red too around 6 months and we resolved to patting her to sleep, which would sometimes take hours. In the end she would eventually drift off into a peaceful and uninterrupted sleep. It was wonderful. Baby Blue was different and if we patted her and sang to her she screamed. Yet our previous way also wasn't fitting us anymore. She'd be exhausted by 8 pm and want to go to bed only to be up 1 1/2 hrs later, playing for another 3 hrs absolutely miserable because she was really tired but we couldn't convince her of this. No matter what we did or when we put her to bed, earlier or later, this was the routine and it was exhausting both physically and emotionally on all of us and usually ended up with a 1-2am bedtime :/
My husband went out of town for a week and my first thought was: "How am I going to get Baby Blue to bed on my own?" It's one thing having someone there to trade off playing with and walking the miserable and tired baby, but all alone? And what was worse was that she didn't want me, she wanted my husband. When she was with me she felt she needed to nurse, but she was tired and honestly didn't want to so she'd lay in my arms thrashing and screaming as I was trying to hush and nurse her to sleep. It was so stressful. I was also newly pregnant and didn't know it; my "morning sickness" hits at 3pm only to get worse as the night goes on. By the time we got to 8 or 9pm I was so sick and so miserably tired I couldn't take it anymore. Little did I know I was pregnant, but I don't think that would've really helped! I swore I would never let my kids "cry it out". I didn't want them scared or having mistrust issues. I would tough it out. But one night I just couldn't do it anymore. I was so sick that I had to lay her in her bed with a binki and let her cry. I cried too as I felt I was failing as a mother. I would get up every 5 minutes to reassure her that she wasn't being bad but she really needed to sleep. And you know, it worked! After an hour of her crying she was peacefully asleep. And I can tell you for certain that she wasn't one bit scared as I made sure that I crawled off the couch to let her know I was there for her. She was mad, mad, mad but ok otherwise. I never let her get so out of hand that we got to the "point of no return". When she became really worked up I would nurse her, calm her down, then lay her back in her crib. She slept 8 hours straight that night then nursed for a long time in the morning. The next day I didn't feel as sick but thought we should give it a shot again. Waaay easier. She knew what I was doing, got mad and then gave up. The third night was a little more difficult and I thought we should give it up but I didn't; I just felt I had to be firm with her. Every other night after that became easier and easier. I cannot tell you what day we're on anymore, only that she's in bed by 8-8:30 after a good nursing and asleep until 7am. Seriously! She'll occasionally wake up and talk to herself and then put herself back to sleep. I can't believe it. She really only cried 3 nights, but was doing that before when it was me and not my husband... And the same goes for naps- I put her down with her binki, may have to go in a few times to find it for her and viola! What started out as a desperate attempt to have some peace has truly turned into just that and it wasn't the horrible, unloving scene that I had always pictured. I may not do this with the next baby. Every baby is different and this is what was in the best interest of our family. Baby Blue needed a firm but gentle reminder that she needed sleep. It wasn't a punishment and it wasn't out of selfishness on my part. Sometimes you have to take a U-Turn in parenting to see if something works, even if you swore you never would. As long as your decision or trial is done out of love and looking after what's best for your baby I really think it's ok. I wouldn't have always said this. My new style of parenting: "Baby-led parenting"; that's what I'm going to call it.
I will add one more thing and that is that I will for certain never try this with a young baby. I think that would be a little selfish and you have to first establish a good trusting relationship with your baby so that they know you're always there. I would hate it if my baby was ever scared because of something I was doing. I apologize to every mother out there I've ever judged for letting their baby cry it out. I believe that every parent that truly loves their child makes their decisions out of love. As long as that's at the forefront there's no way you can go wrong!
(Suggestions or other tips welcome as long as they're respectful. I'm sorry to anyone who disagrees with me but it may not be right for you and your family and if you've never given it an honest-to-goodness try, please don't judge.)
"The No Cry Sleep Solution" worked wonders with Ruby Red, but not so much with Baby Blue. I am still a HUGE advocate of this book! As I said, every baby is different and we tried everything from this book with Baby Blue, but in the end I think we took the right approach.