I'm writing this as I listen to him cry next door. It's torture, so why am I doing it? Because waking every hour of the night is a worse kind of torture. I don't really expect it to work. My mom told me once about the power of positive thinking--"Imagine yourself passing the test and you will." I've always struggled with that concept. I'd rather be pleasantly surprised. I'd rather think there's not a chance in hell and then cross the finish line in a heap of glory.
I've talked to a thousand people about Gideon's sleep problems. I've read lots of web pages and at least three books. I even called a so-called Sleep Expert to have a consulation. Today I took Gideon to the doctor even though I knew full-well he didn't have an ear infection. I needed a pat on the back, a "Go ahead, you can do this!"
I told her we had let him cry for three hours before. She said that was too long. I felt like shit.
Two hours she said was the max she'd let him cry. I'm 99% positive he'll cry for the full two hours tonight. I'm 99% sure we'll be right back where we started from. I'm not sure why I'm doing this when I know it's in vain. Maybe because of that 1% of me that really, really hopes it's not. Maybe that 1% is bold and beautiful as it shouts to my soul, "Ferber is right! He makes perfect sense! Break the sleep association. You're not just doing it for you; you're doing it for him. Sleep is a gift. You're teaching him to sleep."
But I know this is what will happen: After two hours, I'll go in there. I'll sit in his rocking chair and he'll lay down and go to sleep. It'll feel like relief until 12:45 when he's up again and notices I'm no longer in the rocking chair. Then he'll be standing there again, "Na, Na, Na, Na, Na!!!"
Then, he'll be up again at 1:45, 2:45, 3:45, 4:45. The Ferber people will call me a coward and a failure. The Co-sleep camp will call me a heartless bitch.
The timer just went off. I just went in again to say, "I love you. Good night." Ferber says to keep doing that until he settles down. I don't get it. I think it just fires him up more. He. Is. Pissed.
On the other hand, if I just let him cry for three hours, I'm a monster...and a quitter, depending on who you talk to.
You'd think by this point, child three, I would've realized that everyone has their own strong opinions about parenting and really, I just need to follow my own instincts. But you'd also think by child three that I'd know how to put a child to bed without a complete shit show. I've learned nothing from this whole parenting venture except that it's hard to retain anything you learn when you're running on five broken hours of sleep.
I remember wondering with Finny how he would ever get potty trained. How would a child who has been pooping in his pants his whole life, suddenly decide he'd rather do it on the potty? And bike riding...how would they suddenly just take off and go?
Now Gideon, Gideon who's never been a great sleeper, but who used to sleep a whole lot better than this, how will he ever learn to put himself to sleep again? Maybe I should read the book to him. Get him on board with Ferber's logic. It makes a lot of sense, Gideon. I just need to train you to put yourself to sleep. You just need to learn to sleep without me there. If you are simultaneously developing trust issues and a general sense of abandonment, I hope you'll just forget all that by the time you're eight.
So, it's a different kind of countdown this year. It's not a 5-4-3-2-1 at midnight. It's more of a 5-4-3-2-1 every ten minutes on my phone timer. Then I go in, tell him I love him and he screams bloody murder at me. I'm pretty sure if he was a gorilla, he'd throw a ball of feces at my head. Thank God he's in a onesie.