Dirty Little Secret

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I’ve talked about accepting Failure in previous posts but I have to admit that I didn’t think I would have to accept Failure in sleep training. So in an effort to accept it, here goes. My name is Quinn, and for over six months, my youngest of two daughters has not consistently slept through the night. My partner and I are hallow-eyed, embarrassed, and have been privately fighting in the trenches to set our family routine straight. And we have been losing.

For the first year of her life, our daughter went to bed and slept like a dream. No fuss. We used to congratulate ourselves on what a great job we did sleep training her. Then, a couple months after her first birthday, some switch went off inside her little body and she refused to go into her crib. And I’m talking violent freak outs that cause her to vomit. We have cleaned up gallons of puke since in our effort to force her into her crib. It has been shocking and, as we deployed multiple methods to sleep train her, there has been a growing sense of shame as they haven’t worked.

So we kept it to ourselves and talked only to our pediatrician. We started to share our situation with our family and friends. This was a big step, because we figured there would be a lot of judgment from them about our inability to control our kid. While we did get a lot of stories about sleep training that worked, we also talked to families who faced a similar struggle. They too are trying to sleep train through the fog of sleep deprivation- winning some nights and losing others. They are in the trenches too, carrying their own dirty little secret. It was a relief to know that we are not alone.

Emboldened by this, we dug up the contact info of an early childhood specialist whose parenting group we were in a few years ago. We met with her last week and we are now working steps of a plan that she helped us create. It has removed a lot of the stress and the shame. And while my youngest still isn’t in her crib every night, we know we will get there and have support along the way. As parents, I have to think that we all have things that we can’t get control of, that shame us, but that we know we have to figure out and manage. In the few short years that I’ve been a parent, I’m learning that this is part of the process. What I learned recently is that these are things that we don’t have to suffer alone.

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