"Crying it out" and looking after your own sanity.

Banshee - posted on 09/01/2014 ( no moms have responded yet )




Recently, I have heard a great deal of criticism about the "crying it out" method and different variations of this method. The core of this criticism is that when you leave a baby to cry, you are educating it that even if it tries to reach out or communicate that it is upset, nobody will respond. This apparently has the potential to cause long-term psychological problems associated with the babies ability to bond emotionally with others.
I understand this and personally find it quite bizarre that there are people who casually let their baby cry without any qualms. It is not in a Mother's nature to let her baby cry, it is counter-intuitive and in fact can be extremely upsetting.
I myself was driven to try the "crying it out method" after trying literally every other possible way I could think of to get my baby to sleep at night. I was very unhappy to have to resort to it because I had read a lot about it and felt uncomfortable with the idea.
However, I needed sleep. Without sleep, my ability to function as a good parent is severely compromised. I had been severely sleep deprived for 8 months. My baby slept woke and cried from between 2 to 8 times per night. After so long without any decent sleep I began to feel depressed and wondered if I was experiencing post-natal depression.
When I finally capitulated and tried the "crying it out method" I did it softly. I realised that I had created the problem to begin with by allowing my baby to develop bad sleep association patterns. I had breastfed him to sleep or sang/rocked him to sleep in my arms. As a result he was no longer able to put himself to sleep without my help. Every time he woke in the night (which babies can do every 90 minutes apparently) instead of going back to sleep he would need my help. The breastfeeding was a disaster too because he fed for comfort which would completely change my production and put me at constant risk of mastitis.
The "crying out method" was a way to teach him to be independent in this regard. I kept his bedtime ritual very loving and attentive; a massage, song, cuddle, story and put him down in his own cot when he is sleepy but awake. He cried on and off for the first few weeks but eventually stopped. Gradually he began sleeping all through the night and now he sleeps at least 10 hours straight.
If he cries in the night now (rarely) I will go check on him, give him a cuddle - a drink of water, check if he is too hot or cold and he goes back to sleep happily. At almost one year old he is sleeping well, breastfeeding just once or twice a day.
I would really like to understand what a Mother is supposed to do without this method? Because for all the criticism, I haven't really seen any suggested alternatives. I find it unfair that Mother's are expected to be endlessly selfless and giving to the point where they cannot even look after themselves. All the criticisms are centered around the psychological wellbeing of the baby, but how is the Mother expected to perform her role if she herself is not being looked after?

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