Tag Archive: Cry It Out


So… it has been over a year since I’ve posted here. The blog, she languishes…

So much has changed since I last wrote. For one, the first thing that comes to mind as I read the last post is that the whole “CIO” thing? Didn’t last. Nope. Not right for us after all. After maybe a week of sleeping quite well and going to sleep on her own without crying she started waking often and crying (the first couple of times trying the “sleep training” she cried for 15 minutes tops and then went to sleep).  Well, as it turns out, I wasn’t up for letting her cry any longer than that and certainly not denying her nursing at night either.  I started nursing and holding her until she fell asleep in my arms and then putting her back in her crib. Then, after discussing with my husband and realizing he wasn’t in any hurry to come back upstairs into our bed and that he was truly OK with me co-sleeping with my girl and all of that, we quickly resumed co-sleeping and night nursing and no longer trying any sort of CIO.  Within 3 weeks of trying a bit of sleep training, I had decided that we would NOT be doing that again and that it was just not my thing.

I know plenty of WONDERFUL moms who have done some sleep training with their children and they are warm, kind and caring moms. Many of them also have done extended breastfeeding and other attachment parenting types of things. But moms, parents… we need sleep in order to function.  So I don’t fault anyone for sleep training.  I did it too.  For me, and for our family however, it was just not the right choice.  Turns out we get better sleep and are able to feel better during the day, too, when we co-sleep and comfort each other that way.

I did eventually try some night weaning using Dr. Jay Gordon’s gentle method of night weaning but it seemed each time I tried, my little girl would get sick and I felt she needed that night nursing to get better.

Then in early May of 2011 we discovered I was pregnant again!  Yay!  So… what would become of our nursing relationship?  Would my girl continue?  Would I want to?  What about sleeping?  How would that be affected?

We raised the bed up a bit as I got heavier in pregnancy as getting up off the mattress on the floor was getting rather uncomfortable and so we put it on the box springs and that helped.  But we continued nursing to sleep for naps and bedtime.  Then… something miraculous happened and I’m not sure exactly when, but my sweet daughter finally started to sleep through the night.  Perhaps the lack of milk partway through my pregnancy along with my gentle urging that “milk is sleeping” finally did the trick and she started blissfully sleeping until morning.  Once in awhile she’d wake briefly and ask for her water sippy cup using her familiar “drink” sign she amended with a finger in her mouth and a gurgling sound.  Then back to sleep she’d go.  Now if only my bladder had cooperated, but it did not, I was still not sleeping through the night because that pregnant body kept waking me up!

In any case, my pregnancy went really well.  I was never the “burping rainbows and farting unicorns” type of pregnant woman.  Pregnancy was a means to an end for me, but the ends certainly justified the means!  Still, I was blessed with a really uneventful pregnancy aside from a few UTI’s at the end.  I got huge like the previous pregnancy and was pretty uncomfortable.  I had nausea for longer than the first trimester.  And my desire to eat meat was greatly reduced.  But… I was able to continue nursing my daughter through the pregnancy.  I also went the midwife and doula route this time around instead of the OB/GYN route.  It was the most wonderful experience. Hands down.

With my OB/GYN, she was wonderful, but she was not on duty the day I had my daughter.  She also was not often present at many of my appointments and I had her alternate instead who was kind of “old school” for my taste.  In her birth, I had my water break naturally a few days before her due date.  Then the doctor suggested induction and along came the pitocin.  Despite what I had learned prior to birth from our prenatal class taught be a doula, I was so tired at that point having not slept that I caved and just wanted things to “speed up” myself.  If I had only known then what I know now!  But, that was not meant to be.  In time I ended up with gas, some fentenol (sp?) and an epidural which lead to not being able to feel how to push, and eventually a birth with an episiotomy and tearing. UGH.

With my son’s birth, my water broke and things were much different.  I called the doula and midwife.  They told me to eat and rest which I did manage to do a bit.  I went to the hospital and labored for a long time in the shower with the doula helping me through contractions.  Then my husband, doula and midwife all helped me to figure out how to push and I was able to have him with just using the gas to get me through transition.  It was easily the most primal thing I have ever done but I LOVED it in comparison to my daughter’s birth.  I felt so much better afterward.  I had that baby boy on my stomach immediately (as I had with my daughter) and I got to see that they truly waited for the cord to finish pulsing before clamping.  I also breastfed him right away compared with waiting in the case of my daughter until after I was fully stitched up.  It all was a better experience all around and I do have to thank my first experience for informing me of what I DIDN’T want and reading up enough to know what I DID want this time around.  My son and I both benefited!

Anyway, now here we are… my toddler is now 2 years and 4 months and the baby boy is 4 months old.  Things are going well and life is good although we watch more TV than I would ideally like.  🙂  In any case, there is more to update but I hope to be posting soon about my story of weaning my sweet precious daughter right around the time she turned 27 months old (after 3 months of tandem nursing).  So… thought it was as good a time as any to post a quick update.  I hope to fill in the blanks sometime soon and start posting again more often.  It seems like as good a way as any to keep track of so many important memories as well as to carve out some time for me to collect my thoughts.

 

Fresh Start

And so a new year begins.  2011.  My little Ba-Bean has turned one and the day before she did, she decided she could take more than a couple of steps at a time.  Yes, she resolved for the new year to walk longer, better and faster!  Off she went.  For her birthday I started to make a healthy baby-friendly carrot cake.  I say started because she decided not to nap in the morning and to be VERY grumpy in the afternoon so Mommy ended up having to haul her around while Daddy finished the cake.  And I use the word “cake” loosely here.  Because the texture was decidedly un-cake-like.  Could have been the recipe.  Could have been our wonky oven that cannot keep a consistent temperature and always ends up running hot and burning things.  But it rose.  Then it sank.  And it was a very moist dense… cake/bar/pound cake?  I’m not really sure.  But I slathered it with a mixture of cream cheese and whipping cream and we put candles on it and she liked it.  I think she mostly liked the icing.  She loves dairy this kid, much like her Mom.  I think she was also just happy I gave her a big piece all to herself to play with and demolish.  Success!

Then, as my new year resolution, now that baby girl was a year old, I felt ready to implement my custom sleep plan created for us.  I must admit to dragging my feet on this myself, but then the sleep plan took forever to get sent off, and never did physically arrive in our mailbox so I had to wrangle a PDF copy from our sleep consultant.  When it finally arrived in my email, BaBean was suffering from some pretty severe teething (grumpy viking, hear me roar) and caught her Daddy’s cold.  So… sleep train we did not.  Until the day after her first birthday.  We were finally ready.  It was time.

I was quaking in my boots on the inside.  I’m not going to lie to you.  I was terrified she would cry so hard she would vomit and not sure I could follow through if things got that harsh.  I hate hearing her cry at any time, even in frustration.  And she had slept with my for months, always falling asleep at the breast, with her warm little body next to mine.  If it was cold out at night, I’d awake to find her snuggled up firmly against my side under my armpit and I was stuck sleeping wedged between her and the bedrail.  But it was worth it in a way.  I gave her the best start I could.  She had lots of love, and nursing, and warmth at night.  She grew big and strong.  And now she is one-year-old and her independence is growing every day.

She’s not going to be leaving home any time soon.  But she is becoming her own little toddler person.  So we did it.  I followed the plan in the big picture and the main important points.  But… there were a few areas I made my own.  A year of mothering my little girl gave me the confidence to tweak a few points that I felt were in her best interest and that I really felt with my Attachment Parenting vision would help and not hinder allowing her to go to sleep by herself safe in the knowledge that Mommy still loves me and will be there for me if I need her.

I gave her as much time to nurse before sleeping as she wanted (no “brisk feeding” as it was noted to do) for me.  My little girl would get the comfort and nutrition she needed as she knows better than any time constraint or sleep consultant what she needs from my body.  And it worked.  The first nap and first night were the hardest.  But she learned SO quickly.  And she slept.  And fell asleep on her own for the first time in months.  And slept in her crib!  She had NEVER slept in her crib before.  I was SO proud of her I could just burst!

Now here we are at Day 3 of the plan and she allows me to put her into the crib and leave her to go to sleep and not even a peep.  She was ready.  I was ready.  I miss her though.  I really do.  She may sleep well and not wake often or for long, but I am still waking up every 2 hours or so.  And my breasts miss the night time nursing.  Yikes!  I haven’t seen them like this since my milk first came in a year ago!  Crazy.  But it will be good for us.  I can see it.  I am enjoying no longer being her human pacifier.  Now when we breastfeed it is even more enjoyable than before as it isn’t frustrating if she doesn’t go to sleep.  They aren’t needed for that any more.  Our time together nursing is now that much more precious and wonderful to me.  I’m so happy as I want to do extended breastfeeding with her, and this just makes that all the more possible I believe as there is no resentment, just enjoyment.

I’m also not going to lie that I am not “proud” of the actual CIO.  But… I am proud that my little girl took it in stride and was ready.  I feel very glad I waited although it was a really long year.  It made the whole thing so much less painful than it might otherwise have been and feels like I made the right choices along the way.  Hallelujah!

Now if only I could get some sleep too.  Perhaps I will have to CIO myself?!?!  🙂

So I was reading some Attachment Parenting (AP) articles today on Mothering Magazine and came across one discussing “Cry It Out” (CIO) and how it likely came to be popular in parenting circles.  It then, given the AP nature of the article, goes on to talk about how CIO is not exactly terrific for babies (at least for babies who cry alone) as they exhibit an increase in cortisol which is a known stress hormone.  This after just 5 minutes of crying alone.  I recalled as I read this that I had also seen some research elsewhere that high cortisol levels in adults may also be linked to heart attacks.  Yikes!

Well I must admit I have considered from time to time whether I should use “CIO” to help my daughter to sleep better for longer at night.  Sleep deprivation means you will consider all kinds of things to get more sleep.  But I haven’t been willing or able to listen to her cry yet.  So I have been using more “gentle” methods to get her to sleep and have found that AP really fits with most of my thinking on this and many other things.

But one thing I hadn’t read about or considered before was the potential power of crying for babies.

Now I am not talking about just letting a baby cry for hours on their own.  But the article talks about allowing a baby to cry “in arms”.   It was a new thought to me that babies might have experienced trauma at birth, and may be stressed out or frustrated by things in their life such that they may just need a good cry now and then.

I’m not sure why this thought never occurred to me before, but it hadn’t.  It is strange, really, considering that for many years I have known the power of a good cry for myself.  In fact, I am not ashamed to admit it, but I used to watch “Extreme Makeover: Home Edition” every Sunday night just so that I could have a good cry to release any pent up stress and or frustrations in my life.  I knew that they would showcase some poor family who had fostered 20 kids, many disabled, were living in a run-down house that was unsafe, and would build them a terrific new home that would thrill everyone to pieces.  Always a great tear-jerker moment for me to see these families rewarded for all the love and support they have given to these kids and their communities over the years.

In any case, I have had a very demanding career for the last 15 years.  Somehow I always seemed to end up working in a job where lots of unpaid overtime was required to get the job done.  It took a toll on my stress levels.  I would wake up at night with a thought about something I needed to do work-wise or a change to an Excel spreadsheet that I should make based on something I dreamt.  I would pick up my cell phone and call my office and leave myself a voicemail.  Yup.  That was what it was like for many years.

But those Sunday nights I could count on Ty Pennington and crew to make me sob like a baby.  And feel immense relief at the physical release of a good cry.  I always felt so much better, and like the world was a more manageable and friendly place after that cry.

So why would it be foreign that a baby might also get release and return to homeostasis from a good cry?  In fact, I kind of love this idea.  That perhaps my baby girl might sometimes have all her immediate needs met (food, breastfeeding, clean diaper, shelter, not too warm or cold, etc) but still need a good cry?  What must it be like when trying to master a new milestone?  Learning how to stand and being frustrated at times that your own limbs do not always cooperate when you want to do something new?  It might just be a little annoying to my baby girl.  So if she needs a good cry, and her needs are met, I am going to do my best to remember to honor her in the way this article suggests.

I will hold her, look into her eyes, tell her I love her.  And I will let her cry.  In my arms.  She will come to know that all her emotions are safe with me.  That my love for her will not change.  And she can “tell” me anything whether it is good or bad.

Sometimes you just need a good cry.

http://www.mothering.com/parenting/crying-for-comfort

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