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I Sleep Trained My Baby, So What?

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Everybody’s got an opinion on the best way to parent. Judgments and side eyes are passed around like wildfire. Breast or bottle? Co-sleeping or crib? Even if the judgments weren't forthcoming, privately, parents are glaring at each other, wondering how she possible could do that to or for her kid. It’s maddening, really. And yet here I am, saying loud and proud, I sleep trained my baby. And I don’t care what you think about it. It was one of the best decisions I could have ever made.

I knew I was in for it after my oldest daughter was a pretty decent sleeper as an infant. Murphy’s Law was bound to come into play with the birth of my second daughter. And just as expected, whereas my oldest girl took great naps and sleep really well through the night, her little sister wasn’t having any of it.

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Naps were a huge problem. Baby sister wouldn’t nap unless she was being held. I tried every trick in the book, but nothing worked. I love my girl to pieces, but mama needed a break and big sister needed her mom too.

Then there was night time sleep. It took hours to get my little bundle of joy to fall asleep. And she wouldn’t stay asleep for long. We’d be lucky if baby sister would sleep for a four-hour stretch. And then a couple of weeks before my maternity leave was ending, girlfriend decided to revert back to newborn sleep. She was up every two to three hours and I’d often find myself asleep in the rocking chair, with her nestled into my chest, because I so desperately wanted some sleep, any sleep.

My first day back to work, baby girl woke up at 4 a.m. I joked that she knew mom was going back to work and needed some extra snuggles. Well, the joke was on me because for the next two months, she was up on average three times a night. I was told this was what reverse cycling was about. Baby cakes knew I was home at night and wanted to nurse all the time—and she wouldn't nap unless she was being held.

I knew I had to do it. I had to sleep train my baby. So I picked a date to start. A long weekend. I ravenously read different techniques for sleep training, and settled on one that created a “sleep learning” framework. And I mentally prepared. I mean what parent enjoys hearing their baby cry?

In the end, we were both better for me deciding to take a stand and win back my sleep.

Naps, surprisingly, were easier to come by once the “sleep learning” began. Nighttime sleep, though, took longer to get a handle on. There were nights that I’d find myself laying on the floor outside her room, with my own pillow and blanket, as I impatiently listened to her whiny whimpers as she tried to soothe herself back to sleep. Sometimes I nursed her, sometimes I didn’t. And I had my system of checks, which I followed to a T. Sleep slowly got better, but she was still getting up once a night.

And then, about a month into said sleep learning, I realized she slept through the night. Like 12 straight hours of sleep. More than once. I was afraid to say it out loud, but about two weeks into this new sleeping trend, I felt confident enough to say that I had officially sleep trained my baby girl.

Were there tears throughout this process? Yep. From both of us. And my anxiety was at an all-time high during this month. But in the end, we were both better for me deciding to take a stand and win back my sleep. The dark clouds in my head parted, and life was more discernible for me.

First, there was baby girl’s temperament. Just like her mama is a better person while garnering more sleep, so was she. She rarely fussed anymore during the day. Go figure.

Then there was the whole working thing. I no longer dreaded going to work. I remembered why I chose to work. My passion was back and I began feeling more confident as I took on more responsibility. Oh, and I’m sure the commuters I shared the roadway with were psyched that no longer was this sleep deprived mom desperately trying to keep her eyes open, not knowing how she managed to make it to and from work in one piece.

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But mostly, my family unit became a well-oiled machine, and everyone was happier for it. A content mom can have that effect on her brood.

I have no regrets sleeping training. And nobody can shame me into thinking that I did harm to my baby girl by allowing her to cry. I did what was best for me. I did what was best for my family. So keep your research journals and studies away from me. I don’t want to hear it. I’m busy getting eight hours of uninterrupted sleep over here.

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