Home > motherhood, sleep deprivation, Uncategorized > Kiss my ass, Doctors Bill and Ferber

Kiss my ass, Doctors Bill and Ferber

I haven’t slept a real night’s sleep in two years. The Child is 19 months old right now and well before she was born she kept me awake by kicking my bladder and kidneys all night. We’re co-sleeping, so it’s not as bad as it could be, but it’s still bad. And if she’s teething and whatnot, it’s really bad.

So we’ve read, on Karrie’s advice, “The No Cry Sleep Solution.” And we’re going to start implementing some of her suggestions — an earlier bedtime chief among them. That’s required a lot of juggling — The Husband now has to catch an earlier train so that he can get to work at 7:20 instead of 7:55 so he catch an earlier train home. Because if The Child is to be in bed at 7 pm., and the go-to-bed routine needs an hour, we need to start getting ready at 6, which is about when he’s usually getting home! But we’re willing to do this to get to eat together like a family and get enough sleep.

But one of the things that’s struck me while reading this book is just how very wrong I find most of the sleep advice out there. I’m an attachment parenting type, so I really don’t like Ferber. I know lots of moms do, but I feel it’s really teaching your child learned helplessness. The only method you have to communicate is crying and I’m going to ignore you when you cry. It’s right up there with hitting to teach that hitting is wrong.

But, at the other end of the spectrum, is Dr. Bill Sears. Now, don’t get me wrong. I like some, even a lot, of Sears’s ideas, but he occasionally strikes me as completely detached from reality.  Not to mention a little cultish.

For example, in his Sleep book, he suggests that a father take a week off to help teach the baby — who until this point was nursing to sleep — learn different ways to go to sleep. He also suggests that a dad take a couple months off to be with his newborn. So what kind of job does Dr. Bill think we all have that can support a stay-at-home wife (cause you know he’s all about the stay-at-home moms) and at least one child and take this much time off?

The same kind of job that lets you have a house where your bedroom includes a king-sized bed for co-sleeping and a futon on the floor for toddler transition sleeping arrangements. My bedroom is so small that you can’t open both doors do the armoire at the same time! And I have a queen-sized bed.

There’s one bit in the sleep book about keeping the baby at the right temperature to sleep. Have the baby wear light clothes and just keep the room very warm — but don’t use your heating system. It might dry the baby out. A warm mist humidifier should do the trick, he says, blithely. Umm… I don’t live in southern California. I live in New England where it gets cold at night. No number of warm mist humidifiers are going to keep a room warm enough come February.

And then there’s the advice about dealing with your wakeful baby. I cant’ quote because the Child is asleep int he room with the relevant book but there’s a whole pile of crap about how you’ll come to cherish these times with your baby, how it’s a special bonding time, and if you just accept the disruption, submit to the needs of the child and stop fighting it, then you’ll be happy, happy, happy! You won’t mind that you haven’t slept in years.

That’s frankly cultish. “You’re only unhappy because you haven’t properly submitted yourself to the will of [fill in the blank].” Be it God, The Buddah, Am-Way, or your child, it’s not a good way to think. Especially since all his advice always comes back to (at least, in my interpretation), “Suck it up.”

I get so aggreived that modern mothering seems to be about navigating these extremes. “No-Cry” is one of the rare books that seems to walk a middle course. Why is our culture all about “you have to do it this way, all the time, every time, or you’re a bad evil mommy”? Why can’t I want to be there for my child and  get a good night’s sleep? Is that irrational?

Or am I just too tired to see it?

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  1. August 28, 2007 at 7:17 pm

    Hi, I laughed when I read this post. I feel the same about good ol’ bill and martha! love the philosophy, but some of it is just crazy person talk. hope you don’t mind i’ve linked to your post. hope you get some sleep soon.

  2. August 28, 2007 at 8:03 pm

    great post, i bought “no-cry” and after getting a whole 2 hours sleep last night.. it may be time to read it, if i can just keep my eyes open……

  3. howtogetyourbabytosleep
    August 28, 2007 at 9:05 pm

    HI there –

    I enjoyed reading your blog. You’re not a bad evil mommy, you’re just trying to figure it all out just like all the rest of us.

    I’ve been through similar experiences getting my firstborn to sleep through the night. I did things completely differently with my second. I wrote all about it in my blogs: http://gettingbabytosleep.blogspot.com/
    http://howtogetyourbabytosleep.wordpress.com/
    You might find them helpful. I would love to get some feedback about them from you, as you are the type of parent I would love to help!

    If you would like to ask me specific questions, you can go to my new facebook group (http://www.facebook.com/group.php?gid=4996813025) that I created for parents who need help getting their children to sleep at night.

    As for the “no cry” sleep solution, I have a friend who tried some of these methods, including the shush/pat method mentioned in the baby whisperer book. I was skeptical about this, as I imagined trying that with my first child, and how he would probably have screamed his head off as I put him back in his crib after my trying to soothe him. My friends later gave up on the shush/pat thing for the reason I just mentioned, as it only made their daughter cry much worse when they tried to put her back in her crib. But I’d say for you, there is probably no harm in trying it. There are lots of no cry methods to try. But they aren’t going to work as fast as letting your baby go to sleep unassisted (crying it out).

    When I finally decided to let my son cry it out, he was 11 months old. He screamed in his crib for 50 minutes and only slept for 20 minutes (for a nap). That night I put him in bed again, awake. He cried for 15 minutes. When I went to check on him after he fell asleep I realized he had pooped his diaper and he was sound asleep! It took 3 difficult nights to get him to sleep through the night. And eventually we would put him in his crib awake and he would drift (sometimes sing himself) to sleep. It was a miracle to us.

    And getting him to bed at 7pm was definitely a plus – not only did the early bed time help with his night waking, but it also gave my husband and I some much needed time together alone.

    Ok, I’ll stop rambling now… But I hope you find something that works for you!

  4. C'tina
    August 28, 2007 at 9:14 pm

    hmmm here’s some more crazy person talk, lol…I nursed my son till he was 18 months old..by then he had chosen to only have a nip once a day…but before that (I really forget how old less than a year)… when I thought he as ready to go to sleep on his own (I knew he didn’t need to use me as a pacifer anymore), I began to nurse him to very very drowsy….almost out, then I’d put him in his crib…he’d scrabble around a few seconds, then fall off to sleep. Sometime’s I’d pat his back..till it felt my arm was going to fall off..then I’d be still with my hand on his back…then I’d stealthfully place a beanie baby type toy on his back and sneak out. (Never did I sneak out of any other situation, I always told them I’d be back in a little bit) They go thru stages of waking at night still, and I enjoy when they climb in bed. You’ll know when it’s time to try something different, it’s always a long process, but then it just seems to work itself out, till something else comes up.

  5. August 28, 2007 at 9:18 pm

    Oh, my second one gave me fits and I was anti cryitout and not buying the middleofthenightextendedscreamingfitsarereallybondingtime either. I loved that the no cry was inbetween. We adapted much of the books suggestions and had a sleeping baby soon. Of course not soon enough, but it took and I slept. Amen!

  6. Amy
    August 29, 2007 at 12:37 am

    It’s amazing how all these people have all these rules… ummm… suggestions, I mean. My rule: Do whatever it hs you have to do to get yourself some sleep and some relief so that during the day you can be a halfway normal parent. That’s it.

  7. August 29, 2007 at 2:22 am

    It’s an immense task to get people to understand how debilitating baby-induced sleep deprivation is, especially if they are not currently in the throes of it themselves. When my first daughter finally slept through the night at 27 months, I felt the thick fog of infanthood finally lift and I exclaimed quite righteously, “I did it! I survived! That wasn’t so bad!” You tend to look fondly at the time spent nursing and rocking a restless babe to sleep, how sweet they were in your arms, how needy. How wonderful it was to feel needed. Suddenly you forget how you were afraid to drive the car, as winding roads would have certainly lulled you to sleep within seconds. You forget days spent alone and hermit-like, in desperate need of a meal and a shower because the time ordinarily spent on food and hygiene had been trumped by catnaps. It’s easy to look back and say those days were not that hard because you now have the clarity only afforded to those who spend eight full hours supine. I think a lot of these books and advice come from that perspective: been there, done that, and got through it. No one writes a sleep book while they are sleep deprived themselves, but someone ought to, to remind us all that it really does suck the lifeblood out of you.

  8. August 29, 2007 at 8:15 am

    I’m with you Amy. No expert can tell you how you will best get some sleep when your child doesn’t want to at 3am. So maybe you’ll sleep with them. Maybe you’ll feed them to sleep. Maybe you’ll be up for an hour. Maybe they’ll cry to sleep. It’s no-ones business but yours basically. Get enough sleep to function sensibly. That’s my goal these days. None of this sleep through the night aspirations here!

  9. August 29, 2007 at 10:28 am

    Ann Douglas also has a really sensible sleep book. She gives a lot of different “expert” takes, and includes suggestions from parents who have been there. I will bring it next time I see you.

    Oh, and I quoted parts of this post in a discussion about parenting insanity. Hope that is ok!

  10. jessdager
    August 30, 2007 at 3:43 am

    I just stumbled onto your blog. I appreciated so much your struggle with navigating between the extremes. That wears me OUT! I have 3 kids 5,4,2 and each one has presented different challenges regarding sleep and with each one there has been some season where I’ve felt rather hopeless and clueless about how to proceed. All I can say is – this too shall pass. It really, really, really, will. Really…

  11. Theresa
    July 23, 2008 at 10:43 pm

    Hi there, you’re so right, everyone should just do what feels right to them in order to get enough sleep! I also loved the no-cry sleep solution, because it was written so gently, & seemed to be the only book at the time that didn’t criticise for doing instinctive things like breastfeeding in bed or co-sleeping. I’m no hippy earth mother, but the other fashionable books at the time made me feel so out of step with the world. Now I always try to imagine how we would have cared for babies before the modern age, because that’s always what feels right to me. When we lived in caves we would have kept our babies damned close, not shut them off in a separate cave at night until they cried themselves to sleep! When I gave up trying to make my first child into a ‘contented little baby’, everything became much easier and he happily made the transition into his own bed when he was 1. With the arrival of my second child we made our own bed bigger, and also created a family sleeping area – a double bed in the spare room that anyone could use. Sometimes one of us ended up in it, sometimes all of us, but the main thing was we all slept well and comfortably until such time as the boys could share a room together for company. With my third baby, I just did everything that felt instinctive, rather than what I was ‘supposed’ to do. I kept her close to me all the time for 6 weeks, feeding and sleeping together in bed, and since then she has slept through for 12 hours in a crib every single night without exception. She’s nearly 12 months now. She doesn’t cry in the daytime unless something is wrong, and she knows if she cries Mummy will come and fix it. Isn’t that how it should be?

  1. August 28, 2007 at 7:13 pm

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