In the past couple of weeks I've started to compose a blog in my head about crying it out and each time I've gotten so angry and emotional that I had to stop before my head exploded. The catalyst was the visit from our therapist and home worker where we discussed the "treatment" for our "troubled" family.
My biggest worry was for Roanen. The impression I got from previous visits was that we were basically going to lock him in his room and let him cry until he passed out, so I was relieved to hear that we were just to bring him back to his bed as soon as he came into our room. Relieved, that is, and slightly annoyed that Russ eagerly accepted this idea when they presented it, after I had presented it many times as common sense.
The girls then proudly presented their solution for Tristan's sleep issues. They had done a TON of research and talked to many people in their field and found the best way to deal with it. The answers were all in this MAGICAL BOOK written by someone extremely knowledgeable on the subject. The book? A very famous book by a certain doctor with a whole METHOD named after him: Ferber (can you hear the hate and disgust with which I type the name?). Um, apparently someone missed the memo about how I had a little problem with the cry-it-out method? Or else they sat around bored one day and said "You know what would be funny? Let's tell Lindsay that she has to let her kids scream for hours without comforting them. Let's take bets on whether she'll cry!" And you know what? I did. Or at least I visibly teared up, then I composed myself because the last thing I needed was for them to see me fall apart when they already think I'm guilt-ridden and ruining my kids with coddling. I went temporarily insane and agreed that it had to be done. We made up a plan in which we were to go to him when he cried, comfort for less than a minute without touching (?!..?!!?), then leave. We could go back at 5 minute intervals and he would eventually cry himself to sleep. He would be sleeping through the night within a week and a half. Yes it would be hard, but worth it in the end.
Once they left, reality set in. I looked through the photocopied pages they gave me that coldly stated that I was doing him an injustice by letting him use me as a comfort tool, and that it made children feel anxious and worried, not comforted, to co-sleep. I looked through The No-Cry Sleep Solution and reread the part that describes in heart-wrenching detail how a baby must feel when it's left to cry Then I looked at him and realized that as tired as I constantly am, as frustrated as I get when I have to nurse him for the sixth time in one night, and as angry as he makes me when he screams for hours at a time while alternately reaching for me and pushing me away, I couldn't do it. I couldn't listen to him get as hysterical as I know he would get and not comfort him, not even touch him. And despite being assured that doing this wouldn't cause any permanent emotional damage, how exactly do they know? When a baby begins sleeping through the night after crying it out is it really because they've learned to self-soothe, or is it because they've resigned themself to the fact that they're not deserving of comfort at night by the people who are supposed to love them unconditionally? As far as I was concerned, the end just wouldn't justify the means. I called the home worker the next day and told her I wasn't going to go through with it.
Since then, Tristan's sleeping habits have once again deteriorated. His longest stretch at night is 2-1/2 hours, but it's not uncommon for him to wake up 40 minutes after I finish nursing him. The past few nights I've brought him into our bed the fifth or sixth time he's woken up and when that happens he pretty much wants to nurse constantly. That being said, I still don't regret my decision. One of the things that I've gained with having another baby with sleep issues is perspective. I know that while things suck pretty badly right now I won't be having to nurse him 8 times a night a year from now, let alone for the rest of my life. Both the home worker and Russ gave me the look that says "isn't that nice that you're fooling yourself" along with a mental pat on the head when I told them that, but I'm not going to do something I'm completely against to please them when I'm the one who has to deal with feeling bad about it afterwards.
For now I don't really have a plan. The boys and I have been really sick for the past week so I'm too desperate for any kind of sleep to even think of a plan, much less act on one. My one extreme is to just deal with it until he's old enough to be sleep-trained like his brothers were. My other extreme, and the closest to crying it out I would ever do, is to stand by his crib and lie him down every time he stands up, comforting him with touch and my voice. And even that scares me a little bit. We'll see how much more of this I can take.