Long story short, Emerson has not been sleeping well lately. It's taking her longer to fall asleep at bedtime, she's restless and wakeful in the late-night hours, and she's begun waking up multiple times in the early-morning hours. I'm always left wondering if it's her teeth causing trouble (all the usual signs of teething pain are back), if she's hungry (it's time for a growth spurt and perhaps her nutritional needs are changing as she transitions to solids), or if she just wants to play (her little giggles make that obvious at 4:00 a.m. on a regular basis). Though I know we've been considerably lucky that she's slept as well as she has for as long as she has, these long nights of late have been rough.
I've been increasingly mindful of the need for sleep training of some sort, and increasingly uncomfortable with the variety of possible methods. Letting Emerson simply cry, when my biological make-up makes that painful for myself as well, felt wrong.
However, for whatever reason, tonight I let her do it.
Perhaps my late-afternoon coffee gave me the boost of energy I needed.
Perhaps my social time with friends today gave me encouragement.
Perhaps spending time with an older baby gave me motivation.
Perhaps it was reading the preface to C.S. Lewis' "Mere Christianity" moments before. (Clearly, a powerful book already.)
Bobby was out with the guys; I was home alone. The time was right.
The girl was sound asleep in her crib. And then, something woke her up. She fussed, and I let her complain for a while. Then, I decided to go to her nursery.
I put my hand on her chest, and I watched her wiggle around, making sounds which truly just amounted to the equivalent of her yelling at me. And that's when it clicked: she really wasn't crying, per se.
Crying was what she does after her shots at the doctor's office.
Crying is what she does when I've left the room briefly and she's in the arms of someone she doesn't think she's quite so comfortable with.
Crying, for Emerson, means tears streaming down her face, and her voice taking on an entirely different tone.
To let Emerson "cry it out" would be, in my opinion, the wrong game plan. But, tonight, there was no crying about it. No tears, no trauma. She was, essentially, "letting it out"...communicating to me, as she knows how, that she wasn't enjoying herself, that she would prefer to be more comfortable elsewhere, that she wasn't pleased.
Fair enough. I get it. (I regularly feel the need to express myself similarly, though it isn't quite as socially-permissible when you're past infancy.) In any case, she was frustrated, and she "let it out", but she wasn't heartbroken.
We weren't miserable. I stood next to her crib with my hand on her chest, my biggest discomfort not my ears, but my tired legs. For fifteen minutes or so, we held our own.
And then, just like that, I looked down at what had suddenly become a very tired baby, her head turned to the side, eyes closing, drifting off to sleep.
She had "let" it all out.