Crying it Out

Lily is a terrible sleeper. Still. At 18 months old.

She cannot fall asleep on her own. She wakes up multiple times a night.

It’s Howard’s and my fault. He lays next to her crib and holds her hand until she falls asleep. We both run in there whenever she whimpers or cries. We sometimes (ok, a lot of times) give in and bring her into our bed.

Everyone tells us we have to let her cry. My parents, who by the way NEVER let her cry, even tell us this. We’ve been told that she wakes up in the middle of the night, like most people do, but she can’t get herself back to sleep because she has never had to teach herself how. We’ve been told that she falls asleep remembering someone is with her and then wakes up scared because she is now alone.

We have to let her cry, we’re told.

So, tonight we are trying it. She is screaming and calling out our names. I had to walk outside so I don’t hear it.

How do we make ourselves not go in there when she is crying and calling for us? Are we cruel not to? Are we really doing what’s best for her? Or are we doing what’s best for ourselves because the lack of sleep is finally catching up to us? Is she really learning how to fall asleep or is she learning that she can’t count on mommy and daddy to be there for her when she’s sad?

I often wonder if it is really that terrible to rock our toddlers to sleep. If it’s that horrible to stay in the room with them until they fall asleep peacefully. They won’t want to or need to be with us like that for much longer. Are we wasting precious minutes of bonding time with them?

As I walk back up the stairs to my room, I hear silence. Lily fell asleep on her own. But she fell asleep upset and crying.

Howard says to me, “See it works.”

I should feel good. I should feel accomplished because I followed through and “did the right thing.”

But I don’t. It feels so wrong. I feel like I let her down.

I feel heartbroken.


9 thoughts on “Crying it Out

  1. Don’t let anyone tell you you have to do something you’re not comfortable with. We ended up doing a bit of a version of cry it out with Amelia and it works pretty quickly. But I know how hard it is not to race in there and hold her. I tried to make it easier on her by giving her a pillow and blanket that smelled like me.
    She is now a wonderful sleeper.

    Good luck on your sleep journey.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Being a parent is the hardest job in the world. I could feel your struggle and sadness in this post. It sure would be nice if each child came with a manual. Praying for strength for you.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Oh my heart breaks for you! I know exactly how you feel. (By the way- your Lily is beautiful! My daughter had the same turkey dress for Thanksgiving- one of my favorite outfits she ever wore!) I have 2 children- Alex is 4 and Megan turns 2 tomorrow. Megan has been a terrible sleeper too and for over a year now, she has not slept in her crib. I couldn’t listen to her cry either. If I eventually got her in her crib, 2 hours later she would be up and weeping and none of us got sleep. She sleeps like an angel….next to me in my bed. That is where we are at. It is far from ideal,but I tell myself she is not going to sleep in my bed forever. And she finds such comfort in snuggling with me, wrapping her arms around me and cuddling in. I am away all day at work and don’t get to be with her that many hours Monday through Friday, so I kind of enjoy the snuggling time too, even though the “experts” would say she should be in her own bed. I say, she will in time. I say, listen to your heart and don’t worry about what anyone else thinks you should do. Lily won’t think you let her down- she won’t remember that she was upset before she fell asleep so try not to torture yourself that she is thinking those thoughts. Get some rest yourself and tomorrow night, do what you think is right, whatever that may be.

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  4. You know – I often hear parents struggle with things like this. But, what I don’t hear is the pain, the emotion, the fear behind the struggles. You shared those things with us -straight from your heart. My wish for you is peace. Peace in whatever decision YOU make for your family. xoxo

    Liked by 1 person

  5. I feel your pain. I never struggled with getting my son to sleep in his bed. However, my daughter is a different story…just take one day at a time. Give it a week-see how she does…I know it’s hard no matter what. In the end though you are her momma and mommas know in their hearts what is best for every child!

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  6. You have to listen to your feelings. It seems like rocking her to sleep is a good, loving thing to do. If she is crying herself to sleep and you give in and go get her, you are teaching her that if she cries a certain length of time, you’ll come in. That’s not what you want either. I think you are so right that she won’t want to be rocked for that much longer!

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  7. When I finished reading your post, it took a minute, but I felt my jaw unclench and my face relax. I was all wound up in your emotions. Felt like I was experiencing this with you. You depicted the cycle of mama questions so well. Our internal struggle will never end. But hopefully the sleep struggles diminished for you soon.

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  8. What a heartfelt piece! I feel for you! My daughter never had trouble falling asleep by herself, but after a bad winter, when she was 2, with lots of ear infections, she got used to coming into our bed when she woke up after a few hours she’d been sleeping. Since both my husband and I got up early to go to work in the morning, neither one of us had the will to wake ourselves fully and bring her back to bed, knowing she would be crying. So, we just let her stay. I would snuggle, she would be asleep in no time, and so would I! This continued until she was 5. Then she went to school and we just informed her matter-of-factly that now she was too old to sleep in her parents bed, and that was that. She is now a very independent and well-adjusted 19 year-old college sophomore. No permanent (and certainly no temporary one either) damage apparent! Like everyone else said, do what you feel is right.

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  9. I feel for you! This is such a controversial topic. I want to share a little of my story in case it can help. I don’t believe that there is one true answer to this problem. When my son was 18 months old he was still waking up every night at least once to nurse. I didn’t realize at the time that this was so unusual. Not having slept a full night (with a few exceptions) in over a year, I was a complete wreck. My pediatrician told me exactly what you’ve heard. He needed to learn to fall asleep on his own. According to her and everything I read, it would take about 2 weeks of cry it out, but then it would be over. Everyone was wrong. It took months. Some people would say it was cruel. Eventually he did learn to go to sleep on his own. He’s 6 now, and we have a very strong bond. He’s an amazing kid. I am completely certain that crying it out did not harm my child in any way. I’m also certain that letting him sleep in my bed would not have harmed him in any way. I hated what we went through, but I also know it needed to happen for my own well-being. Moms have to take care of themselves. Hang in there! Also, it’s not always like this! My second and third child both slept through the night by 3 months!

    Liked by 1 person

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