October 9th, 2005

We’ve made a mutual suicide pact,

and if Jack doesn’t fall asleep in the next half hour, Andy and I may very well be in for it. We are sitting in the living room right now while Jack wails away in his crib in the next room. It’s finally come to this. You see, I’m one of those attachment-parenting, baby-wearing, granola-crunching, tree-hugging, cloth-diapering, breast-feed-’em-till-their-twenty types (okay, we don’t really use cloth diapers. But we *would* dammit if the laundry machines weren’t so expensive). I NEVER thought I’d let Jack “cry-it-out.” Thought it was cruel and insensitve and unresponsive. I think it’s crap when people say that it’s good for babies to cry. Crying is their way of communicating that they need something, even if they aren’t so sure of what that something is exactly! But it’s finally come to this. And I’ll blame it on daycare.

So in an effort to complete my PhD sometime within the next three to fifty years, Jack and I are off to daycare now that our dear mothers (and their invaluable help) have come and gone. The daycare is a really great place, actually, where freelance moms get to work in an office space next to the childcare facility. In theory, it’s the perfect set-up for us. Throughout the day I can (theoretically) work, correct student papers, etc., and then on my breaks, I can go in and play with Jack, nurse him, put him to sleep and go back to work.  In reality, however, I drop Jack off and sit down in the next room to work. Within minutes thereafter, I am summoned by the staff to attend to my screaming child, who is having a veritable meltdown. They can’t soothe him and, frankly, neither can I. I spend all day with Jack, trying to get him calmed down and napping, and before I know it, I’ve spent a heck of a lot of money to babysit my own child in someone else’s house.

Which leads me to now. You see, I don’t care that Jack doesn’t sleep through the night. I don’t really care that he wakes up every two hours (lately, every 1-1 1/2) at night. I love being there for him and I love being able to calm him down when he needs me. I love cradling him to sleep for naps and bouncing him around when he’s cranky. I don’t mind doing all that.

What I *do* mind is the fact that Jack doesn’t know how to soothe himself. When he gets sleepy, he will scream to the point of exhaustion even when I’m rocking him or bouncing him (which I almost always do). He’ll eventually get drowsy and only then can I lay him down, but it’s never without a crying fit first. It’s like he needs to scream to fall asleep. If I could spend every minute with him, I’d gladly and lovingly cuddle him all the time. So the daycare dilemma comes down to this: It’s one thing when he’s crying in *my* arms, but another thing when he’s crying in someone else’s! I just can’t stomach the thought of it! We’ve been reading up on how to help Jack to soothe himself, and most of the books say the same thing. He won’t be able to do it until he’s given the opportunity to try.

Thus, after our bedtime routine tonight, we hugged him and kissed him and layed him down in his little crib, where he promptly took up the war whoop. We are sitting on the couch like Odysseus bound to the mast of his ship against the sirens’ song. We are holding back tears. Our collective heart is breaking. This is the worst… (okay, earthquakes in Pakistan and avian flu outbreak are by far worse. But it still feels pretty awful).

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Posted by: Sarah on October 9th, 2005
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