The box says it all
If Barack Obama can do it in the White House, then why can't I in Louis' (alright, alright, my) bedroom? I'm talking about finding a Third Way, a path between left and right, or in Momspeak, a compromise between the ultra liberal, baby-led approach to parenting, and the rigid, cry-it-out-they're-only-a-baby option. Specifically, I'm seeking a Third Way between the frankly unsustainable 24-hour drinking culture that Louis regards as the norm and the frankly unpalatable alternative of a hysterical baby who refuses to fall asleep on his own, no matter how long I leave him alone in his crib.
The problem I have, as regular BWB readers know all too well, is that Louis is not one of life's natural sleepers. And that's putting it mildly. Even as a newborn, he was barely sleeping 12 out of every 24 hours. Now, at nearly 11 months, he's down to about eight hours a night - and that's only when he treats himself (and us) to a mini lie in. He's barely sleeping two hours at a stretch, which is taking its toll on us all. When he wakes, as he's due to round about now, it isn't playing he's after, but me and as much liquid refreshment as he can slurp.
Ask anyone (or any book) how to cure him of his nighttime Mum addiction and they'll all say the same thing: I have to leave him alone, to cry, until he realises I'm not coming back and learns to settle himself back to sleep. The common term for finding this baby epiphany is "breaking him", the idea, I guess, being "to break" him of his need for me and my milk supply. Or "to break" him of his habit of using me as his sleeping crutch. But what if I don't want a broken baby?
The problem I have is that I refuse to believe that the only way to teach him to be a man in such matters is to leave him to cry. He hates it, I hate it, end of story. I know all the theories: leave him for progressively longer stretches, popping in in between times to reassure him he hasn't been completely abandoned. You can do this from the doorway or next to his crib but one thing you're not supposed to do is to pick him up. Stick to this brutal regime and, all the books/blogs/websites/parental confidantes merrily assert, it will do the trick.
But what if I don't want to? What if I simply can't? Can't endure his hysterical cries for more than five minutes at a push that is? What if I want to find another, more humane solution to our plight, a so-called Third Way of parenting that transcends the liberal/fascist Mummy party lines that so many of my co-Mummies seem to follow?
Well, I'm six weeks into my concerted attempt to find that illusive Third Way. I can do all the back patting and head stroking I like, but as soon as he's anywhere near his crib, he's utterly miserable. He can even be fast asleep on my shoulder, only to wake up the second I lean over his bed. Which means that so far my mission is failing miserably. Where Obama is managing to cross the Democrat/Republican divide, I seem to be stuck in the lefty lactivist camp of feeding on demand and hang the consequences.
Any suggestions welcome. As long as they aren't just to shut his bedroom door and buy some better earplugs.