Monday, July 23, 2007

Sleeping beauty?

It was the weekend from hell. Never before have I been so unnerved by my child’s cries that I have had to take a time out. Allow me to explain.

Sacha is currently in the throes of the sequences stage. It is one of the developmental stages described in Hetty Vanderijt’s and Frans Plooij’s book The Wonder Weeks: How to Turn Your Baby’s 8 Great Fussy Phases into Magical Leaps Forward. Those crazy Dutch have warped conceptions of wonder and magic.

Our strategies for helping Sacha sleep were working quite beautifully. He had been getting mostly happy faces on his mommy’s sleep-rating chart. But the world came crashing down this week.

He has decided that he will only sleep if he is being held. That’s it. He could be completely comatose but as soon as he feels a slight descent toward the crib, he kicks into panic mode and sobs relentlessly until one of us picks him up.

Sarah and I have never been fans of Ferber. I cannot speak for Sarah, but I find it impossible to hold out against the torrent of tears rushing forth from my child. Not that people who choose to use cry-it-out (CIO) are destined for eternal damnation, but it is not for me, and it is certainly not for Sacha. He inherited my stubbornness, and the few times we resorted to CIO, we were treated to a perpetual sobfest that only exacerbated the problem.

Well, this weekend we bottomed out. After many fruitless attempts to transfer Sacha to his crib, we both threw our hands in the air and decided to Ferberize. Oh. My. Goodness.

What a disaster. Half an hour into the massacre I asked Sarah if she wished to continue. Being more steadfast than I, she responded affirmatively. “Well, then I have to go for a walk.”

That’s right. I did the Park-Shirley-Joseph circuit at 12:30 am. It is a different world that late at night, but it really helped me clear my head. And when I returned to my abode of expecting Armageddon, I was greeted instead by complete silence. Thank goodness.

The rest of the weekend has been a series of frustrations and triumphs. It culminated in us having to completely reevaluate our strategy; that is to say, to return to our old ways. Anytime he has some rough nights, I tend to abandon all tried and true methods for a quick fix. Luckily, the rational hand of my wife guides me toward sanity, and the infant sleep advice of my great mentor and friend Roland rings in my mind: “You can never spoil an infant.” How true, my friend, how true.

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