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February 26, 2010

The trajectory of a downward spiral

So please, may I draw you the trajectory of a downward spiral? It’s when you get The Baby Whisperer Solves All Your Problems out of the library in October, The No-Cry Sleep Solution out of the library in December, and you pick up a used copy of Nighttime Parenting by Doctor Sears come February. This last one signals complete surrender, along with the fact that I bought a bed rail last week.

It’s funny how unwilling I am to give up on my insistence that some book somewhere will contain the answers to our sleep issues. I think this is where desperation can take you. And it’s even funnier, because in no other area of my life would I even consider self-help books, except this one. I scoff at self-help under most circumstances, thoroughly convinced that the truest wisdoms are to be found in fiction. (But aren’t there a dearth of babies in fiction? Real babies, I mean. Literature is rife with narratives about pregnancy, but who would want to read a book about life with an infant? [Though some people have, of course: check out Stephany Aulenback’s Babies in Literature Series at Crooked House]).

The Sears book might be the one that actually works though, because it seems to take most things that we’re doing, things that I worry we’re doing wrong, and then tells me my child will grow up to be maladjusted unless we keep on doing them. And seeing as I am the laziest nighttime parent the world has ever known, we really might be on to something.

(Though Harriet is still moving into her own room this weekend. She does manage to spend about half her night asleep in her crib, and the very best part of her move is that we’ll be able to read in bed again. I can’t wait.)

8 thoughts on “The trajectory of a downward spiral”

  1. Julia says:

    It was so great to put a face to your blog (fyi, the post on Patrick Swayze was perfect; I too like celebrity bios. Right now, I’m embarrassed to say that I’m becoming addicted to the Olympics personal interest stories). Anyhow, awesome to meet you last night.

  2. Kerry says:

    Julia, I so enjoyed meeting you too. And I hope I get to do so again sometime!

  3. Gillian says:

    Hi Kerry – it amazes me that parenting reduces us generally pretty smart, generally pretty resourceful women into desperate self-help book page turners. I have never felt more ignorant than when my kids were very small, in the middle of the night, wondering what I’d done to deserve this. I threw the Sears across the room eventually and the baby whisperer I gave to a woman I hate. In the end one baby slept after some ‘sleep-training’ (where I sat on my hands and wept along with her) and the other baby slept on his own terms (which meant we sucked it up and slept with him sometimes). I don’t know. You can go to university for years and years and maybe that’s what makes us need those books – the answers must be somewhere!
    Good luck with your sleep issues. Be brave. You won’t ruin her. You’re doing a good job.
    and your writing is great (and hey! you manage to write and mother concurrently – well done!)


  4. Clare says:

    I honestly don’t read your blog just to recommend our books to you, but your comment on babies in books reminded me that a few years ago we published Sandra Sabatini’s study of this. Not an accessible price but a good library should have it. Sandy, as you may know, has five kids and managed to write at the same time. overachiever. 🙂

  5. Susan Telfer says:

    I eventually found the Sears book, too, and surrender came as a relief to me, being too exhausted to do anything else. They all grew up happy and secure. By the way, thank you for mentioning my book!

  6. Kerry says:

    Oh, how nice it always is to know there has been company in desperation. And Clare, if you do read my blog to recommend books I’ve never heard of and would love to read, that is just fine with me!

  7. melanie says:

    I thought I was going to be a co-sleeper with Moira but she had other plans. Even now on the very odd occasion where I pull her into our bed hoping for a couple more minutes of sleep she either tells me to get up or asks to go back to “Moira own bed!” The sleep issues really are a killer aren’t they? I agree with you on how they make us going running to the books – I never looked at a self-help book before having Moira.

    I don’t think you can actually ruin a child by being attentive to it and doing what feels right (obviously there are extreme exceptions) and I have no worries about Miss Harriet at all – you just do what feels right.

  8. Kristin says:

    Oh, I commiserate. My 7 month old was a fantastic sleeper, in her own room, crib, sleeping 5 or 6 hours at a stretch starting at 6 weeks old–I KNOW–I didn’t believe babies like this existed either (her brother certainly did not perform this amazing feat as a baby). And then she got sick in December and the extended cold (for months!) resulted in a severely messed up sleeping schedule–waking up every 1.5 to 2 hours all night long, and wanting to nurse. And SCREAMING if she didn’t get it.

    It has been a very long last two months. I’ve started to sleep train her this past week because I can not go on any longer with interrupted sleep like this (I fell asleep at work when I was PUMPING a few days ago). When she wakes up I go in and rock her or pat her a bit and then leave. She hates it. I nurse her once a night out of guilt, desperation and basically being beaten down…it is so hard. But, results are happening. It took 3 nights of this and last night she only woke up once. That I can handle. Maybe someday she will sleep through the night…

    Good luck to you! Tell me if you come up with a magical solution from one of your books!

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