If there is one aspect of motherhood I'd gladly hand over to a nanny or night nurse, it would be sleep training, without a doubt. Getting my kids to sleep through the night or even take regular naps during the day has always been an epic struggle. It doesn’t matter if they can barely keep their eyes open or are stumbling over their own feet from exhaustion, they have been dead set since infancy that sleep is not the answer. I have never had the heart, bravery, tenacity, or whatever trait is exactly needed to commit to sleep training properly, so I now have not one, not two, but three problem sleepers. And with my third child, I’m not going to lie, I simply gave up on sleep training. I'd been down the failed sleep-training road too many times.
With my first, I half-heartedly tried the cry it out method, which, combined with my postpartum depression, was a recipe for disaster. Some nights I'd give up and rock him to sleep, others I would spend crying every time I went in to put him back to bed. I eventually ended up giving up on sleep training, going into his room two or three times a night to soothe him well into his preschool years. With my second, sleep wasn’t too horrific at night, until we took away her pacifier, then all hell broke loose and nap time disappeared at the tender age of 2. By the time I reached my last baby, I just wanted some sleep, so we bed shared, not giving much thought to when or how we were going to stop. So we didn’t stop. We simply kept him in our bed as the three-and-four month “ideal” sleep-training age passed us by. Then we passed the six-month mark, one year, then 18 months. He showed no sign of ever wanting to be in his own bed, even as he started talking and we coerced his brother into telling him how "cool" it was to have your own big-boy bed.
He already had his ideal sleeping spot, right in between me and my husband, kicking and waking us up at all hours of the night. No matter how much I didn’t want this to be the case, I couldn’t imagine going through another sleep-training battle, especially at almost 2 years old. I decided he was going to bed share with us forever and resigned myself to a life of feet in my ribcage and tossing and turning all night long. My husband, however, was not happy with the “I’ll take whatever scraps of sleep I can get” method. He was ready to have our bed and bedroom back. He wanted to sleep through the night, not someday in the far-off future, but soon. So he decided to take the reins and sleep train our baby solo, but I wasn’t sure he really meant it.
The first few night were wrought with a whole lot of screaming, which kept me up through the night, but unlike my husband, I was able to stay in bed instead of fully waking up to deal with it. Even though I was not a fan of my husband’s exhausted bad attitude, my gratitude was so overwhelming I let it slide.
For my part, I told my husband that I couldn’t do it. I was running on too little sleep already, and I would be a cranky, hot-mess mom if I got any less. But he assured me he was planning to do it all on his own, and he wasn’t kidding. He has spent the last few weeks sleep training our last baby all on his own, and to be honest, it’s been amazing. The first few night were wrought with a whole lot of screaming, which kept me up through the night, but unlike my husband, I was able to stay in bed instead of fully waking up to deal with it. Even though I was not a fan of my husband’s exhausted bad attitude, my gratitude was so overwhelming I let it slide. Pretty soon, we’d both be sleeping through the night, and these few cranky days would be so, so worth it.
I'm blown away by how awesome it is to have a partner who is willing to take on sleep training while I lay in bed oblivious to the struggle.
While I may find his method of sleep training questionable — especially since it mostly involves him sleeping in our youngest child's bed for many hours each night, and giving him about half a dozen bottles — I'm letting him do it however he wants. If it means I don't have to be on sleep-training duty, it's worth it. Plus, there's a new sleep-training book on the bookshelf if he ever gets fed up with his method.
As our youngest wakes less and less through the night, I'm beginning to sleep through his waking spurts at night, and now, I'm regularly getting whole nights of sleep — even though my husband still isn’t. I'm blown away by how awesome it is to have a partner who is willing to take on sleep training while I lay in bed oblivious to the struggle. Going without sleep for your child is an act of parenting, but doing it for your partner? That’s an act of love.