What’s the newest parenting fad for the rich and callous? Paying someone to “sleep train” their infants:
Our wonderful night nurse referred us to her friend Deb, a seasoned sleep trainer with nearly a decade of experience helping babies achieve peaceful slumbers. At $30 an hour, bringing a professional in to manage the process seemed like a no-brainer. It’s so painful for me to listen to my babies cry, and I knew I didn’t have the strength to do it again. So, I booked myself and my husband a little getaway in Ojai. I didn’t want to be in earshot of Bo’s weeping. Treating ourselves to a restful retreat meant we could try to enjoy ourselves instead of dwelling on what was taking place at home. After a couple of cocktails, an afternoon of sun, and a few intimate minutes with my breast pump (I dumped the contents), I settled into a Swedish massage at the spa.
What’s a night nurse? And if you have a nanny/nurse at night, isn’t it their job to go get the baby?
I realize that a small part of me might just be jealous that this woman, featured in Redbook, can pay someone $30 an hour to listen to her baby cry it out while she spends the weekend getting a massage. Meanwhile, I’m eating someone’s halfchewed peanut butter sandwich and trying to scrape something that looks way too much like dried poop off the dog’s hindquarters—on three hours of sleep because the boy child kicked me all night and then peed in my bed. The closest I’m getting to a massage in the next year is when the children decide to tackle me while I’m trying to enjoy a quiet yoga pose. It hurts a little to think about moms with unlimited funds jetting around kid-free, sipping cocktails by a pool.
But jealousy aside, are mothers really doing this? Paying someone to sleep-train a 12-week-old? Do they know how new 12 weeks is? I don’t want to judge this woman. I really don’t. Clearly, it worked for her and she’s happy and the kid seems okay, so whatever. I’m not going to lose sleep over what the blue bloods are up to. But if this is something you might be considering, let me try to dissuade you. A 12-week-old needs Mommy or Daddy in the middle of the night. I don’t believe any doctor who says that a tiny infant isn’t hungry at 2 a.m. Twelve-week-old babies don’t lie. When they cry they need something. Sometimes it’s food, sometimes it’s closeness, sometimes they have a tummy ache. Whatever it is, it’s legitimate. Who lets a 12-week-old cry it out?
Babies aren’t robots. You can’t program them or “sleep train” them. They are individuals. Each one is drastically different than the next. My firstborn slept with me for nine months and had a terrible time transitioning to the crib. Looking back on it now I wish I had just allowed her to stay in my bed. The trauma wasn’t worth it. My second child went right into her crib the first time and never wanted out. She loved to sleep (and still does). My third child was sleeping just fine until we moved and now he’s up four times a night until we let him into our bed so he can kick us all night long. (The fun never ends!)
I’m just not sure I believe “Richie Rich” that it was the best money she ever spent and now they sleep like little programmed robot babies. They never have nightmares? Stomach aches? Midnight snack attacks? This seems like an excuse for super rich people to throw their money around and take another vacation and then write about it in a magazine (because the editor comes to their pool parties) to show us little people how fabulous they are. It’s like Gwyneth Paltrow writing that blog of hers trying to convince people she’s a normal working mommy struggling to make it all work out (while posting photos of her army of nannies and private jets). Are Redbook’s readers the target audience for this kind of advice that costs a fortune? Why did the editors think this was a viable solution for anyone? We’re in a recession … haven’t they heard? I don’t know about you, but we’ve had spaghetti three times this week! Finding $30 an hour is impossible for most people.
Crying it out is terrifying for both mom and baby (which is why I’d never do it again and don’t recommend it), but it’s even worse to take mom away and let it be a stranger who comes in to shush the confused and frightened child. Babies have emotional and physical needs that only mom or dad (but mostly mom in those first few weeks) can fulfill. I understand the hell that sleep deprivation is. My husband and I haven’t slept in years. It’s not fun. And sometimes I wish I could run away, too, but I made a choice to be a mom. There will be time after they are bigger and more able to get along without me that I’ll get a break. And if you really can’t take it there’s no shame in getting help. Call your mom. Grandma is a much better choice than a stranger who charges $30 an hour. My mother is a baby whisperer. Yours probably is too.
This is another reason why having your mother near when you have a newborn is almost a necessity. New moms need support because it will feel like you’re losing your mind and a weekend getaway sounds like a great option, except that it leaves your baby alone and missing you. The newborn stage is so precious and so fleeting. Stick it out. Be there. Get up every two hours. It won’t last forever and you will miss rocking your babies back to sleep in the middle of the night. I promise.