Kid No. 2 was all of the worst forms of torture rolled into one cute adorable dickhead. I’ve spoken about his colic, his milk protein allergy, his misery and what a hard infancy it was on him. The real pain though is the toll it takes on the rest of the members of the household. By the time No.2 was nearing 6 months I knew for certain that all of the concessions we made and rules we broke in order to have the most content baby we could were all of the things that came back to bite us in the crotch. For instance, at 4 months it was my pediatrician telling me that he was getting a flat spot on his head that I admitted a shameful truth….son no.2 was sleeping in the Momaroo! It was literally the only way we could get him to sleep for longer than 45 minutes…and when you have a screaming baby round the clock the thought of stopping something that works is terrifying. She looked at me and I was relieved that I didn’t see judgement in her eyes because she knew how hard things were but she did give me a look that said, pull up your big girl underwear and do what you need to do.
The Momaroo retired that very day and the transition into his crib went better than I feared. He went right back to waking up every 1 ½ to 2 hours though. He didn’t want to eat, didn’t want to be rocked, didn’t want his suss, he seemingly wanted nothing but to be miserable and make damn sure that everyone else in the house was miserable too. The result is one miserable family. I have never been so sad, anxious, exhausted, overwhelmed and fit to be tied in my entire life. I couldn’t even handle one single thing being demanded of me. The minute my daughter opened her mouth to protest anything I would snap back at her like a rattlesnake. Even I was scared of myself. It was just no way to live. I dreaded what the next hour of every single day would bring. I dreaded my daughter getting off the bus in an hour because I couldn’t possibly avoid ruining her day as well, I dreaded having to figure out what to make for dinner. I was swallowed up in this big messy septic tank of shit. And all I wanted to do was cry on my husband’s shoulder and bitch slap him across the face at the same time because at least he got to leave the house without a care in the world every morning while I was stuck at home counting down every minute of the day and praying that every nap would be just 1 minute longer.
I finally accepted and faced the fact that I had to sleep train my son. I had to do it knowing that he would probably scream his head off a tonne. I had to do it despite all the articles other moms had posted about how fucking cruel and psychologically damaging it is to let your baby cry it out. Yes, I did it, I confess. I let my son cry it out so that I wouldn’t spend the rest of god knows how long imagining taking a hatchet to the forehead of anyone who asked me to care about anything. I tried to do it as respectfully as I could. I tried to offer my voice to sooth him but that seemed to just piss him off way more. So, I left. I cried outside the door and I listened for signs of distress which when you’re so used to your kid crying is both easy to recognize and difficult to recognize in equal measure. For some crazy reason it only took 2 nights. The first night it was probably 30 minutes, the next night 15, then 5.
Then something amazing happened, I felt better. Something else happened, he was happier. He was still a spirited, high needs generally impossible to please infant but on a full night’s sleep it was all the more tolerable. I knew that despite how tough my day might be, I was going to get a full night’s sleep, I didn’t need to carry this anxiety into my evening and I began to see the light at the end of this dark tunnel that my whole family had found themselves in.
When our whole family got more sleep we started to become the happier, healthier family we were all hoping to be. Son no.2 still sleeps great and I am so glad I had the courage to follow my instincts and sleep already.