cry it out and poop updates

I know all of you have been frantically reloading this page, wondering
1) how Project Maddie Sleep Until Morning is faring, and
2) what is the back story on Fergus and the poop (scroll down for part one of that if you missed it).

So here’s the latest. Project Maddie proceeds apace.

NIGHT ONE: Starting at 1:30 am, she cried for an hour. An HOUR. I went in at ten minutes and “comforted” her by patting her back, which only renewed her reserves of fury. Then, after forty-five minutes, she was so apoplectic that I had to go in and pick her up, and she started giving me hickeys on my cheek and neck, trying frantically to nurse. See, this is the problem with Maddie: no bottles, no pacifier, no thumb-sucking. As Cooper likes to put it, “she only likes to suck on Mommy’s bras.” (That was Parenting Mistake Number One for me, by the way. My friend’s daughter also refused the pacifier, and they just kept sticking it in her mouth until she changed her mind. For your peace of mind, and potential ability to ever put your baby down, it’s better, I think, to have your babies sometimes suck on something that is *not* one of your body parts.)

So for me to go in and pick her up, and NOT nurse her, and then put her back down, which was what happened, seriously sent her around the bend. I went back to bed and tried to read a book, my heart pounding. But then? She started to slowly wind down, like a car alarm you hear outside at night that runs so long it drains the car’s battery. “WHEAAAAAOOOWWoooooo… YOWoooo…. ooo… oo…” and then suddenly? She was asleep. MY GOD, I couldn’t believe it. She awoke again at 5:30, I fed her, she napped another hour, and then giggled and waved in her highchair at breakfast as if nothing at all had transpired between us.

“You did it!” David told me from London. “The first night is always the worst. You’ll see, she’ll hardly cry at all tonight.”

NIGHT TWO: Starting at 3:30 am, she cried for AN HOUR. I guess you could say it was an improvement because she had made it until 3:30. I went in once, she gave me a look that said “If you think you are winning this war, lady, you are MISTAKEN,” and I backed out. By 4:30, it was just too pathetic and I fed her. She went back to sleep till morning.

NIGHT THREE: 30 minutes of crying at 3:30 am, then she went back to sleep until 5:30
NIGHT FOUR: 30 minutes of crying at 3:30 am, then she went back to sleep until 5
NIGHT FIVE: 15 minutes of crying at 4 am, then she went back to sleep until 5:30
NIGHT SIX, which was last night: ten minutes or so of whimpering at 4:30 am, at which point I said what the hell and went in and fed her, and she went back to sleep until morning. Many would call this backtracking, or even an utter undoing of six nights of work. But I was REALLY tired.

So I wouldn’t call this a total victory. We had friends with a ten-month old come visit for the weekend, and he’s been sleeping through the night for like six months now. But we’re doing better than we were.

I had some interesting insight, however, from a friend of mine who is a self-described “full-time stay-at-home baby-wearing yoga teacher mom.” In other words, she takes the other side of this cry-it-out position. Here’s what she wrote to me:

Why do we always say that being responsive to our kids at night is the easy way out?? It’s funny. I am definitely no expert and I am fully aware that I am in the minority with how I think about all this, but I’m a big believer in responding to our children at night as well as in the day. Now, of course, Ihave the luxury of being able to nap during the day! Which I realize makes a huge difference in how I might see things compared to some other moms who have very different situations. But still. Also, re. the whole sleeping through the night thing, now some researchers are saying (I’ll have to find the source for you) that it is normal and healthy for babies to wake through the night for the first year of their lives at least!

If I see that research, dear readers, I will be sure to pass it along. My friend does have a point. Is getting up to feed Maddie “easier” than ignoring her? Hardly. In fact, getting up with your baby is not only exhausting, but when compounded by the grief that others give you for doing it, can be utterly dispiriting. Letting them cry it out, on the other hand, is merely heartwrenching. So I hereby solemnly swear to judge no one on this matter, and I hope you will do the same.

What’s that? Oh, the poop. On that, I only have one more fact to share with you:

MOMMY: Fergus, can you tell me more about that poop you touched at camp?


(Long pause.)

FERGUS: It was weawwy, weawwy cold.

POSTSCRIPT: I just got this comment from a reader/sister of mine, and her questions are searing and insightful enough that I wanted to share them:

I’m impressed that you’ve been able to play it so cool, because I am seriously UP AT NIGHT trying to get to the bottom of this touched-a-poop mystery. If I were there I would be following him around asking questions until I got my answers. And this clue will only make it worse. It was COLD? He touched refrigerated poop? Or was it just, like, colder than he expected it to be? What are his expectations for the surface temperature of poop?

See, I wasn’t thinking of it that way, but she is SO right. I was coming at it from more of a Columbo/CSI perspective, like: if the poop was cold, then it must have been there long enough to *get* cold, and my god this camp is just not a clean place. But maybe Fergus expected poop to be super-heated? Who can say? I keep trying, believe me I am trying, but I’m not getting anywhere with the man himself. I could ask the head counselor, but you know what? I don’t think I really do want to know.