Thursday, February 28th (T minus one day until sleep training):
I arrived home at 10:30pm to find both my wife and daughter still awake. The text messages, which detailed my wife’s growing unrest (“Your daughter won’t go to sleep”) stopped 45 minutes ago, so I thought ignoring my problem once again made it go away. Nope.
My wife and I had decided that tomorrow was the day we would start to sleep train her in her crib. Bunny had either been sleeping in a swing or with us in bed (with occasional unconscious transports to the crib) for the first eight months of our lives and it was time to tough it out so that all three of us would be able to sleep better. Eventually. Hopefully.
“Your turn.” My very sleepy wife handed me a very sleepy baby.
“Hey bunny. I hear you’ve been giving mommy a hard time tonight.” I heard the door to the guest room close. Bunny smiled at me and mashed her face into my shoulder as we headed up the stairs.
Phase One – Feeding: I formed my wife’s pillows into the standard T formation so Bunny would have her head slightly elevated and be able to facemash the vertical pillow in between sips from her bottle. I laid my sleepy ball of precious down in her spot to surprisingly little resistance. She let me put the bottle in her mouth and it became clear very early that there would not be a need for phases two through five.
She fell asleep in under five minutes, her hands stretched out on either side of my shoulder, grasping it very lightly, like a beloved potato chip. I have about a 35% success rate at transporting a sleeping baby from the bed to the crib, but this was a gimme. Still, I waited the requisite ten minutes to ensure a deeper sleep. In that time, I thought about the road ahead of us. Tomorrow night, I wouldn’t be putting her to sleep gently on my wife’s pillows. I’d be sitting on the stairway five feet away trying to summon the strength to follow through with this long, painful, cold strategic neglect for the sake of her long-term health.
I picked her limp body off the bed and put her down in the crib. I stared at her a while longer and shed a couple tears, wondering when or if I’d ever again reach the level of intimacy I just had with a perfect, trusting baby girl who just wanted to see her daddy one more time before she went to sleep.