I recently learned about a beautifully sad term, “heart sloughing” (Tracy Hogg, “Secrets of the Baby Whisperer”). It happens after you have cried out your full release of frustration and tears, and you are gently convulsing in little after-sobs. Like your heart is shedding layers, sloughing off dead skin, old habits, old fears. A finds it heart-breaking to hear from little Ben, but I have always thought it sounded restful, like waves coming in and washing away whatever is left to be cleansed. To me, he has already found his centre when that happens, and is resting.
Tonight, ladies and gentleman, I bring this up because we have turned a major page in Ben’s life and have officially pulled the soother plug. It’s the painful truth (for us all), but we know in our guts that it’s time. He’s ready, and he won’t learn how to sleep until we do it. It starts now, tonight. I just put him down (6:38pm). A left the building since she can’t bear to hear him cry like he does (Ben and I test drove the concept this morning with mixed success, but it was not easy for A to witness via baby-monitor). I think dads and other-moms might have an easier time with witnessing baby tears, since we are less physically connected. I won’t say I’m immune since I love our boy; it definitely gets to me as I’ve mentioned in other posts. Nobody feels good about a crying baby. But when we finally realized that our week of “pick-up, put-down” sleep training (à la Sleep Whisperer *see description below) was garnering only moderate results, we both came to the conclusion that the suce (Québécois for pacifier) was a hindering “prop”. He would not learn to self-soothe when waking in the night or alone during naps until we made him do so. There he lies now upstairs, after a decent but not terrible cry, his heart having long ago stopped sloughing off sighs, dreaming about his big boy achievement of going to sleep without his suce.
Ben was born in the Chinese year of the tiger, which should be interesting. I am especially fond of the fierce and tender animals, and I like to imagine divine tigers curled up all around him like on the cover of the book below, purring deep, resonate, tiger purrs, protecting and soothing him through the night. One of their soft, steady paws lying delicately over his chest, slipped on as I slipped mine off. No pacifier in sight. Blessed sleep, little one.
* NB: The aforementioned “Sleep Whisperer” is strongly disliked by A. She has an annoying habit of writing “luv” a lot in her books, as in “stop worrying luv”. But we have to hand it to her; she has tentatively won our loyalty. Her sleep training method is middle of the road (between CIO, or “cry-it-out” in mommy-blogging jargon, and long-term bed-sharing, nursing to sleep and feeding-on-demand). This forum writer summarizes "pick-up, put-down" http://www.babywhispererforums.com/index.php?topic=208990.0 but it’s worth getting the original book from your library or mommy-group pals. Just prepare to be annoyed. We like that we don’t leave him alone to cry, but also give him space to sort it out and learn to sleep on his own.