A sample email from a desperate and exhausted mommy.
Message to Compassionate Sleep Solutions:
My 7-month old nurses to sleep for nights and naps. He wakes exhausted and so do I. He wakes after 45 minutes of night sleep, and continues to wake every few minutes to every two hours all night long. I am a zombie and not able to parent my oldest with love and respect as I feel I always have. I feel like I have been obsessing over my baby’s sleep since he was 3 months old but didn’t know “how to change” and here we are again in the same place I was with my oldest (nursing to sleep). I feel very, very anxious to go through another 3 years of no sleep and how it will affect my health.
Extremely anxious…. can’t decide how sleep learning sits with me but wanting to consider it.
- Asking him to change
- My baby crying for help
- Me not “doing what he knows”
- Is the stress too much for him (or us)? Is he capable, ready?
- Will there be regret?
- Will he be detached?
Very anxious and also feeling SO guilty and regretful that I “got him here”. I am sleep deprived and constantly obsessing over sleep. All to say just feeling unsure. Am I being unfair to him or taking the easy route by forcing a change? OR, is it possible that this is best for him, for our family. Some hope there.
The rock and the hard place.
- The rock – The Gibraltar nature of this rock is a common starting point. This rock makes it clear that we can’t continue in the current way that sleep is being done.
- The hard place – These are the mixed emotions of anxiety about change and the all too common “mommy guilt” that got us in this jam to begin with. Our natural aversion to change makes us think change will be bad for our baby. Not so!
Your concerns and anxieties
Asking him to change –
Change in the first 3 years of life is part of the experience. As far as change goes there is never an easier time to handle change than in the first 24 years of life. In fact throughout childhood and adolescence we eagerly seek it out. It is called novel experience. After that – not so much.
Him crying for help –
You will be able to help him. By not fixing sleep for him or rescuing him he will learn a new skill. It truly is “on their own with our help”.
Me not doing what he knows –
You will show him a new way. The new way will be more functional. The new way will be for the betterment of the entire family including him. This is healthy. This is learning. He is all about learning. Mommies are all about healthy. We have to show our children what healthy is until they learn what healthy is. Once they learn they grow up and hopefully become adults who can make their own healthy choices. (Hey, all of us have downed an entire bag of Cheetos while watching the Twilight marathon on TBS.)
Is the stress too much for him? No.
It is too much for you? Maybe. That is where I come in. Helping moms with skills to ease stress and anxiety. That is my specialty. It works!
Will there be regret? Maybe. Many parents I work with regret they waited years for good sleep. If we look at the elements of regret there is sadness, disappointment, loss and grief. This means at some point we will experience regret. Considering how invested we are in our child’s experience then eventually we are bound to feel some of those elements.
However, regret feels solid and hard. Another rock, another hard place. Regret is being stuck in a perpetual loop of those elements above. It feels like s#!t. Being stuck in the deep doody of regret is hard to transform. Deep regret is for grownups. Children don’t get stuck there. Regret is ego driven and they have no ego – yet. It is why they are so free and happy. They are far too fluid and changing to waste time in such a waste of time that regret can become. The only thing that transforms regret is compassion for the self and the other. Forgiveness, love and compassion are the antidotes for regret.
Will he be detached? – No. He will be separate. There is a HUGE difference.
The process assisting, and at the same time allowing our children to learn a new skill that is for their own good as well as the well being of the entire family supports healthy attachment. Read my blog post Attach This about attachment theory and limbic attunement. In fact the process I teach increases the already secure attachment and healthy bond. We are allowing and assisting our babies in the long developmental stage (3-4 years) of becoming self soothing. It happens incrementally and we are supporting their developmental abilities in this regard.
“Am I being unfair to him or taking the easy route by forcing a change?” I assure you that you are not being unfair nor forcing a change. It is incredibly supportive to allow changes to occur that are developmentally appropriate.
Fantasy hope is wonderful but it most often leads back to the rock and hard place.
The falling that it takes to fall asleep
That he is safe and he can be content in separateness
- How we prepare ourselves for change is key.
- How we prepare the infant/toddler for change is key.
- Following through with consistency and connectedness is key.
- How we show up in emotional connection is key
- How I teach this process is effective and reduces crying and the distress the parent feels in the face of the cry.
To learn more about The Compassionate Sleep Solution
come to Eileen’s classes at The Mama’hood in Boulder.