Dillon was 5 months old at the time. He was wonderful in every way. However, he was still getting up in the middle of the night every three hours to nurse and I was quickly becoming exhausted. I had read lots of baby books and I was currently on one that had suggested the cry it out method. I had never let Dillon cry it out. But my doctor was telling me he was too old to be getting up that often, that he was just waking up out of habit, that it was time for him to start sleeping through more of the night.
I dragged myself off of the floor and went to my husband, Shawn, who was asleep in our bed – “What should we do??? I can’t take it anymore…. He’s not going back to sleep…” “Just go get him” he says and rolls over. “I can’t, I’ve made it this far. I’ll ruin everything if I go in now” I say. The book says the crying may last a long time on the first night and that I shouldn’t give in. If I stick it out my baby will be happier, better rested, the family will function better. And what do I know anyway, I’m a new mom, I’ve never handled situations like this before. But it feels so wrong. Every ounce of me is screaming out – I just want to hold him, comfort him, let him know that I’m there. I walk back to his door, lie down on the floor and start to sob again… Another hour passes...
Dillon is still screaming. I’ve had enough. I don’t care anymore. I have to get him. I walk into his room. I can still see him as if it happened yesterday although it’s been 7 years now. He is bright red, almost purple, his little blanket that I swaddle him in for comfort has made its way around his neck – and it’s tight – really tight. I grab him, unwrap his blanket and pull him close into my chest. He immediately throws up all over me. The emotion is too much for us both. I bring him to bed with me and hold him tight with quiet tears running down my face. He falls asleep in his mommy’s arms.
It took a long time to forgive myself, but I haven’t forgotten. That night, my maternal instincts knew what was right for Dillon and yet I ignored them – completely. I got so wrapped up in what everyone else thought that I forgot to listen to myself. I don’t always know the right thing to do, but more and more I have learned to trust myself and my ability to do what is right for my own child. I no longer follow books, I just do my best to approach Dillon from a place of love and kindness. And I always try to remember what a vulnerable position a child is in – how the world is so new to them – even at 7 years old.
On a side note, when Dillon was 9 months old, we found out I had low milk production (Dillon was still waking up every 3 hours at this point). As soon as I supplemented his diet, he started sleeping through the night.