3:01 AM

Her cries startled me awake.

The green lights on the clock read 3:01 AM.

Of course.

It’s the same time every night.

To the minute.

I don’t even need to look.

Nothing wakes a sleeping mother like the sound of her baby crying.

I fumbled for the video monitor, hit the button to see her.

She was thrashing around in her crib.


In tears.

I don’t understand why she’s waking up these days.

She is excellent at putting herself to sleep.

Every night. Every nap. She goes into the crib awake and falls asleep on her own.

No sleep crutches for this baby.

And she can’t possibly be hungry. She is, by all accounts, a very chubby baby. And she nurses throughout the day.

I don’t know the reason she thinks she needs to eat every three hours.

She wasn’t doing this before.

That’s why I know she can sleep through the night.

But, for whatever reason—growth spurt or neurological development or simply her own timeline—she’s not these days.

As I lay in bed, waiting to see if she would settle down, I was anxious.

Tired and disoriented.

Worried she would awaken her brother.

Sad. I don’t want my baby to be lonely or hungry or scared.

And frustrated.

Chronic sleep deprivation is unlike any torture I have ever experienced.

I want to sleep.

I need to sleep.

It is central to my ability to mother my children.

To finding the patience and energy to be the mother they need.

The one they deserve.

The engaging mother. The tolerant one. The laughing one. The one who doesn’t clench her teeth over spills or use a sharp tone when a two year old stops to smell the roses.

The books say I can leave her alone.

She can fuss herself back to sleep.

And, in my desperation, I tried it.

I let her cry for what seemed like an eternity.

Sat in my bed and watched her on the monitor, sound turned down.

Agonized in the dark over her misery and my anger.

Fought the tears that threatened to flow. For both of us.

Finally, I had to acknowledge that she wasn’t calming down.

She was more distraught than before.

I caved.

I nursed her and put her back down.

She peacefully drifted off on her own.

And I reached a conclusion.

For whatever reason, she isn’t ready.

She can’t do it right now.

And, at her age, I’m not willing to make her.

So, for now, we wait.

We’ll try again in a couple months.

But tonight, I suspect I’ll be getting up.


And I’ve decided that’s okay.

Choice and perspective make all the difference in parenting.

This decision—to get up with her—is mine.

I’m making it in the interest of both of us.

I know it’s coming.

I know she needs me.

I’m hoping we both get back to sleep more quickly than we did last night.

And I’m looking for other ways to get more sleep.

16 Responses to 3:01 AM
  1. Life As Wife
    April 15, 2012 | 10:13 pm

    I hate the whole “CIO” or “rock to sleep” debate because it doesn’t have to be one or the other! You just knOw as the mama what your baby needs, why type of cry is happening.

    If I let J cry when he’s really upset tere is no way he go back to sleep, his anxiety only elevates.

    Hope she settles soon!
    Life As Wife recently posted..One Just Like HimMy Profile

    • Life As Wife
      April 15, 2012 | 10:16 pm

      Holy typos! Clearly, I need more sleep! Hope you get rest soon!

  2. Jessica
    April 15, 2012 | 10:58 pm

    I let my babies sleep with me because I needed my sleep and couldn’t deal with the crying in the middle of the night. We all do what we need to.
    Jessica recently posted..From Diaper Bag To HandbagMy Profile

  3. Kimberly
    April 16, 2012 | 1:02 am

    I’ve felt this same way. I couldn’t stand the crying or watching them fight through their tears. They just weren’t ready so I did what I needed to to get them to sleep, comfortably.
    Kimberly recently posted..Blog Design GiveawayMy Profile

  4. Alison@Mama Wants This
    April 16, 2012 | 2:14 am

    I can totally relate. You do what you need to, what feels right. They’re only little for so long. Hang on in there, Natalie!

  5. JDaniel4's Mom
    April 16, 2012 | 7:31 am

    Crying it out never worked for JDaniel. He won’t go to sleep unless he was in my arms for months.
    JDaniel4’s Mom recently posted..The 2nd Annual Tissue Box ChallegeMy Profile

  6. Kir
    April 16, 2012 | 8:12 am

    Oh my sweet friend. Good morning, I am hoping you feel ok as you’re reading this. I remember those days and nights and how exhausted I was and so I’m hugging you from here. You are a good good good mom and Baby Track is one lucky lady for that!

    Kir recently posted..Capturing The Easter Bunnies : Capturing Memories with Alison & GalitMy Profile

  7. Kimberly
    April 16, 2012 | 9:00 am

    You do have to do what is right. My son had colic and there were many many many times that we just had to leave him in his crib and walk away. It killed me to do that.
    As he passed that stage, he slept like a champ. Although, we deserved that for putting up with all those sleepless nights :)
    Kimberly recently posted..The NieldsMy Profile

  8. Mel
    April 16, 2012 | 9:35 am

    I think YOU are the expert on your child. You have to do what feels right for both of you, no matter what anyone else or some “experts” feel might be right. For me, I feel pretty strongly about teaching my daughter to listen to her body, give it what it needs – even if it’s at 3:01am:)
    Mel recently posted..And then she was threeMy Profile

  9. Shell
    April 16, 2012 | 9:37 am

    Knowing it won’t last forever helped me to stay tolerant of getting up. Well, after my first- with him, I was convinced I’d never sleep again.
    Shell recently posted..8 Things I Should Never DoMy Profile

  10. Jessica@Team Rasler
    April 16, 2012 | 9:57 am

    Oh, I so relate to this, and to what Shell said – that the second time around is easier because I knew he’d eventually get there. She will, too, but as a mama with two boys who didn’t reliably sleep through until they were eight months old (when they could roll over and sleep on their tummies), I SO feel your pain. Hang in there.
    Jessica@Team Rasler recently posted..Trading my crown for a capeMy Profile

  11. Robin | Farewell, Stranger
    April 16, 2012 | 10:37 am

    You know I feel you on this. I wish there was a way to know what to do or how long it would last. But we just have to keep on keepin’ on. Hope she gets back to sleeping soon so you can too. xo
    Robin | Farewell, Stranger recently posted..Helping yourself feel betterMy Profile

  12. Joanna
    April 16, 2012 | 11:02 am

    I can totally relate to how you are feeling, and this is what makes me scared to try to have #2. My daugther is 16 months, and still wakes up sometimes. Or, sometimes she just cries out in her sleep, but regardless it wakes me up. Right now, she is getting her canine teeth, and we were up from 4:30-5 this morning. It’s especially hard because I have to wake up at 6am to get to work. And, it’s not like I sleep in on the weekends!

    I personally just do not believe you can make your baby sleep. Hailey is a difficult sleeper, so we have had to use CIO to get her past different things – when we stopped swaddling (at 6 months because she would get out of every swaddle known to man), when I stopped nursing at 13 months, and after vacations/sickness/teething. I know she needs it at those times – somehow as her mama I can just tell she needs me to guide her on learning to sleep. But other times, I can just tell that she needs me to hold her longer, pat her back, give her kisses. There is no one-size fits all – even with the same kid.

    Good luck. I hope you can catch up on the rest you need at other times. Maybe on the weekends your hubby can give you a day to sleep in?

  13. Angela Matthewson
    April 16, 2012 | 11:20 pm

    I was SO there. I hated CIO but did it because I “drank the kool-aid” & believed I needed to her for her sake in the long run. Who knows. I stopped when I realized it was a cycle, not a one-time & it’s done. It was so emotionally draining to re-train every time there was some break in our routine. She’s now just over 2, a great napper, a decent over night sleeper. I get a few hours in the evening to do my own thing, then sleep a few hours in my bed, but usually end up with her on a futon! So … what do I know? :) Well, I know that – so far – I have an engaging, loving, smart little girl – that’s our goal right? Good kids! AND … to be happy, which I am – so much more now than then.
    I have a strong feeling that you will do what’s right for you & your family! When I was at my most freaked “I’ll never be a good enough mom” thing – a friend told me — the fact that you’re contemplating how to be a better parent, makes you 1000x better parent than so many out there!
    Okay – it’s past my bed time! I hope you rest up too. :)
    Angela Matthewson recently posted..Redefining IntimacyMy Profile

  14. Galit Breen
    April 17, 2012 | 12:01 am

    Oh you, that lack of sleep is so, so very hard, isn’t it?

    (I admire your ability to flex your parenting as needed. Lucky kids to have you, as their mama.)
    Galit Breen recently posted..Memories Captured April Linky!My Profile

  15. The Mommy Psychologist
    April 17, 2012 | 3:02 am

    There is a reason that sleep deprivation is used as a torture device. It really is! And this is because it is TORTUOUS!!
    The Mommy Psychologist recently posted..More on Attachment ParentingMy Profile

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