The Bitch Is Back

Recently (like last night), against my better judgment, I responded to a fellow blogger’s call for opinions on letting an infant cry it out.

My view (in a nutshell) is: I hate cry it out. I think it’s cruel. I think it’s wrong to expect a baby to sleep all night, and as a parent, it’s just not how I roll.

Agree or disagree; I don’t really care. All I know is that the choice not to parent that way totally jibs with all of the other parenting decisions that Chris and I have made. It’s who we are, it’s how we are, and we’re good, thanks.

So I was pretty perturbed when another commenter, a blogger I don’t read, and, as far as I know, doesn’t read me, insinuated that I am a martyr for being such a chump as to tend to my 5-month old when she’s hungry, or uncomfortable, or simply needs me at 3 a.m.

Wait, wait, wait… I forgot, first she called me out for ‘admitting’ that my 5-month old doesn’t sleep through the night, as though it were a crime. (Though I’m not sure who the criminal is, me or the baby.)

Ok, so on to the real point: Now, I’m not religious, but comforting my crying baby seems like pretty fucking low standards for martyrdom. I mean, if that’s all it takes, than what does a non-medicated homebirth get me? What does a c-section get me?

If I’m going to be considered for such a title, at least make me break a sacrificial sweat. A few ideas for your canonical consideration:

- I once gave away a ticket to a Grateful Dead show because I had been miracled, and my boyfriend had not. That night, Phil sang Unbroken Chain.

- When I was twelve, I was a junior bridesmaid in my cousin’s wedding. I had to wear this:

- I was in Italy on my honeymoon 6 years ago, and I did not buy any shoes.

- A few nights ago, Chris asked me to make him tea, just as Survivor was starting. And not just a regular ol’ minty teabag, mind you – fancy stuff that had to be put in a tea ball and steeped. I still have no idea how the first immunity challenge was won.

- Oh yeah, hey, I once had to leave my family and the joy of being 8 months pregnant at home to go say goodbye to my father, who was dying of pancreatic cancer. That was a bit tougher than rolling over and feeding my baby at midnight.

So if I’m going to be called a martyr, at least make it for the right reasons, because trust me, doing any of the things I mention above was way more sacrificial than doing the things that I consider simply, mothering.



  1. I try really hard to go with the "to each his/her own" on parenting things, but the truth is that I have pretty much the same philosophy as you. Trillian and I ended up with a version of attachment parenting lite, based solely on what made sense to us. Sometimes I think I should try harder at speaking my mind instead of worrying about keeping the peace.

  2. Um hi -- first off -- you so funny.

    Second off, people get their knickers in a twist about this kind of stuff. Like whatevs man -- everyone does what they gotta do. Every kid is different. There is no one size fits all. That commenter should chill the fark out.

    My baby is the kind of baby who needs to cry herself to sleep. I know it sounds strange -- maybe I'll post about it. But if ever there was a diva baby that needed one of those sleep masks they give you on airplanes, this is her.

    She's just so annoyed by the world that crying/fussing gets her to where she needs to go. And contrary to what you might think, me being in the room with her, nursing her or holding her only makes things worse.

    That being said, when she cries at 3 am, we go to her, depending on the night. That being said, I have a 3.5 year old who still gets out of his bed to crawl into mine.

    Is this how I imagined it? Is this what the books told me to do? No. But the books don't know my family and their techniques work sometimes and don't others.

    At the end of the day I think, is this going to affect her entrance to university? Ooh, she didn't sleep through the night at 8 months. (Well she did sometimes, but then teeth happened.)

    People love to rage wars online about parenting decisions. The truth of the matter is that if any of us had the cameras rolling 24-7 0.0000% of us would be found doing the right thing 100% of the time.

    You do what you do to get by. And sometimes that means getting out of bed for a snuggle at 3 am. And sometimes that means missing immunity challenges to treat your man to a nice teabag ;)

    Was that a long enough comment? And btw, if you are canonized, I nominate you the patron saint of bloggers, homebirths and c-section scars.

  3. uh yup. feisty.

    just like you told me.

    with good reason.

    We never did cry it out. And I catered to my girls every 'need' and alleged 'weakness'.

    And today? Pretty confidant outgoing kids. Its been worth it.

  4. Five month olds aren't allowed to get fed at night?
    I demand a refund.

  5. I love you dearly, K, and I'm on the same page as you in many ways, but I think maybe you both need to chill a bit. (And my saying that indicates HUGE trust in you, ok? I could have just not commented.)

    I felt as strongly as you did until I had a friend who was in serious trouble with her wakeful son. He was even WORSE than Swee'pea! And I discovered that my strong feelings were just not helpful to my friend or to supporting other mothers in this very very hard task we're all engaged in, so I changed them. CIO doesn't work in my family, but I don't feel right telling other families not to do it.

  6. Well, I (the fellow blogger you referenced) don't read you either. So how was I suppose to know the age of your child?

    I did not insinuate YOU were a martyr. My comment about women being martyrs, was three paragraphs into my answer to NoMo's question and her call out for advice. It was an off the cuff remark, it was not meant to "perturb" you. Or to inspire a post.

    You describe yourself as a bitch. You throw down the challenge "Agree or disagree; I don’t really care," but than you act wounded?

  7. Um, wow. I'm almost hesitant to chime in here now but...

    Personally, I didn't try CIO until my oldest was nine months old - and then it was a modified version, I was in the room with him where he could see me and I could talk to him, but I didn't pick him up when he cried. This was after months of nursing every hour on the hour; of co-sleeping, of sleeping sitting up when my eyes finally closed from sheer exhaustion; of a few horrible nights sleeping on the floor next to his crib; of a marriage nearly shattered and a job nearly lost due to my complete mind-numbing exhaustion because I wasn't getting more than half an hour's sleep at one time. And I still felt guilty about letting him cry, and got grief from my very attachment-parenting mother for not letting him sleep with me until he was ready to stop.

    CIO doesn't work for everyone. No parenting method works for everyone. And while I thought this post was well-written, I do have to say that calling CIO "cruel" is very similar to giving mothers a hard time if they choose not to breastfeed.

    Mothering is hard. Sometimes, its the most gut-wrenching brain-busting thing on earth. I think we all need to be more careful about the language we're using when talking to one another.

  8. Me, I am always surprised to hear of 5 month olds who DO sleep through.

    But as to CIO? I think it depends on the kid and the parent. My mother did it with my sister, and it was okay. It really was.

    For me, for Pumpkinpie, I made some attempt at it one night when I was about at the end of my rope (about 9 months, I think), but knew within a couple of minutes that it wasn't the right thing. I know the difference between my child's cry of dissatisfaction and the cry of true unhappiness, and it wasn't cool with me to leave her that upset.

    But I do think it's one of THOSE topics - where people get all zealous and weird, so when the topic opens, it's sure to bring on some craziness on either side.

  9. Fuck the debate, I'm laughing my ass off at the bridesmaid getup. You look darlin' but the side bow with puff sleeves? Oh who am I foolin' you rocked it, you effing martyr you.

  10. Wow...don't you feel the love all around you. Unbelievable, someone asks for an opinion, people provide their opinion and let the judgements begin on what is the right thing to do.

    Kgirl as usual you rock the post here.

  11. Dudes - here's the real deal. We all have an opinon. We're all totally entitled to it, and I for one know what mine is. I'm cool with it, will in fact write about it if I feel like it, and am no way hurt by that of others when I open my comments and invite it here myself.

    Guess what? I do think that CIO, as sleep training, is cruel. So I don't do it. That's my story. Believe it or not, I thought I was addressing the issue with some levity.

  12. goddamn it girl, i love you.

  13. You are sooooo right. And I have to tell you that, seriously, my almost 27 month old (not a typo, she is over two!!) has never slept through the night. She has nursed through the night though. Thank god for the family bed.

  14. I wish everyone could agree to disagree. NO ONE does ANYTHING the same. Duh!?! You do what you want (and should be free and clear to do so) and we do the same. Criticism is for the dogs.

    ah... you made tea and missed the immunity challenge? you are so sweet.

  15. LOVING this post. Coming from another Survivor fan, I'd say that takes the cake. Besides, puffy sleeves are back in...

  16. Well, you know (cause we talked about it) that my post was really about trying to find alternatives to CIO.

    I had some curiosity as to whether people (people who read me, people who I know, like and respect) had used CIO and it had actually worked. The only time I have ever heard talk of it, it was me listening in to conversations of moms at some of the classes I've gone to. I never had to do it with the Boy - we had a LOT of issues with him, but sleep was thankfully not one of them.

    Would you believe that while I expected people to have opinions (I solicited them, after all), I had no idea it would cause any sort of kafuffle? For that, I'm truly sorry. All I wanted to do was to find a way to get some sleep. Hopefully one that didn't involve a lot of screaming.

    You, by the way, are great. I like you even more, now that I've seen you in that bridesmaid dress... :-)

  17. Me again. And this is partly in response to the email you sent me and partly in response to the comments that have come since.

    I wasn't trying to say that you (or any blogger) is not entitled to their opinion. I have expressed some opinions on my blog that I know people don't agree with. All I was trying to express (badly, apparently) is that the words we use have power. And there are some issues that stress people out more than others (CIO, breastfeeding, spanking) and while it is totally cool (and right, and natural) to have opinions about all of those parenting issues, I just think sometimes that the rhetoric getting tossed around is a bit much.

    I'm not trying to "call you out" on your own space here. And I did think this post was well-written, and funny in parts, and since I didn't read the original post that started it all or the dialogue that came after it, really I suppose none of us can comment sensibly here.

  18. I am not a CIO parent. BUT, but, but....from what I have read/heard/experienced is that some kids get MORE stressed by crying and some babes find it a stress RELIEF to cry a bit. Monkeygirl is the former - letting her cry just got her even more worked up. So what I am trying to say, like everything parenting, it just depends.

    What pushes my buttons is when it seems that some parents are using CIO or whatever strategy to get out of the tough/challenging times of parenting. Kinda like when a parent uses time outs to deal with developmentally appropriate balking in a toddler. Or CIO for a newborn.

  19. Chris the HusbandMay 15, 2008

    to the editor,

    I'd like a retraction printed on the tea martyrdom. I did not in fact recieve my blended rooibos/lapsang sochong tea in my nice tiny teapot. I remember it distinctly as I was shocked that the man who left the night shift of his 2nd job early during your first pregnancy to run around to 5 different subway resturants during your first pregnancy(1 of which had no bread, and two of which had no ribs for the rib sub, and one that apparently is never open), only to deliver home a rib sub that you decided you didn't want after all, was told that the tea was too much effort.
    The Pope isn't going to canonize you for a lousy Twinnings Earl Grey out of a box.

    chris the husband.

  20. chris the husbandMay 15, 2008

    ps. and those five subways? this was before we had a car.

  21. Oh the dress! And the husband! It's all too much for little ol' hormonal me!


  22. I tried the CIO method when my girls were really small and I had NO SLEEP. But I realized that they were too small to rememebr that crying= someone comforting them, so i realized that I just needed to give in.

    BTW- Who's baby sleeps through the night at 5 months?!

  23. Holy fuck, you're cool!
    You took the words right out of my mouth.

    Think of ancient history:
    Ug, we have baby. Grunt.
    Ug, we must build new cave for it to sleep--away from our cave. Grunt.

    Ya, I'm sure.

  24. blah, blah, blogMay 18, 2008

    If you think that was cool, you should see her live!

    My vote goes to the Dead scenario--you were probably the perfect martyr age.

    To Chris, the husband: Surely by now you realize that a martyr never lets the truth ruin a good story? Besides the whole Subway expedition was undoubtedly to atone for the mushroom transgression. (Next time make it Mr. Sub, they have both black and green olives).

    BTW, is the little teapot one of those clay Mensa ones? I love mine.

  25. I was going to comment that to this day whenever one of my kids needs me, reagrdless of the time of day, I'm there. Letting them cry - out of a need, for anything - is, in my opinion cruel. The message to send to the child (I know you need me but I'm not coming) is nothing I want to be a part of... But them I decided against my silly parenting decisions after reading the tea story and realizing that it took all that time to make a bag of earl grey tea... I almost fell off my chair. How ungrateful, eh? He could have got it himself on the commercial. LOL.

    Hope you're less stressed!

  26. I want to meet your husband. He cracks me up.

  27. You, my dear, are hilarious.

    And I always say to each his own. There are a thousand ways to parent, and most of them are pretty good. I could never let my child cry for long periods of time. Sure, at five months I'd give her a few minutes, to see if she would calm herself down, but then I'd go in if it was clear she needed me.

    Enjoy your martyrdom. Do you get any cool benefits for it? At least a trophy or something?

  28. I am like a week or more late for this and not commenting on blogs right now but as I get caught up I had to stop in.

    Firstly, I loved this post. That you were honest and unapologetic for your parenting choices and that you did it with an equal balance of levity and firmness. I've wanted to write this post for the past 2 1/2 years but knew I couldn't have struck that same balance without sounding like a preachy mcpreacherson.

    I didn't do CIO because I too don't believe in it. What worked for me and my baby was attachment parenting, breast feeding and lots of loving. I know that doesn't work for every family and I'd never suggest that someone else follow the course I did. And although I didn't get as much sleep as I'd like I actually miss those days when he'd wake me up in the middle of the night and we'd cuddle and have alone time until he fell back into slumber. That was the approach to parenting that felt right for me (though I understand not for everyone) ... and it turned out pretty damned good.

    You have a right to your opinion and you have a right to share it on your blog. And I think you did it very well.

    Love. You.

    Going back into hiding ....


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