Anyway it always seemed to me, based on the amount of venom & defensiveness surrounding "cry it out" that it fell into THAT category which most parenting methods seem to - "right for some, not for others, not likely to do much good or much harm". Generally it seemed like something I would rather not do (while honestly not judging those who did) but with Thing 1 I didn't give it much though because right as I was starting to get antsy about her not sleeping through the night as well as getting ready to go back to work, she obligingly learned to sleep through the night on her own.
Along came Thing 2 and although her sleeping has always been much worse than Thing 1's, I just assumed that she too would learn to sleep through the night at around 1 (because of course that's how siblings work... they grow, develop and react in exactly the same way). I resisted any form of sleep training despite the brutal nights waiting for that magic one year mark...which came...and went... without any perceptible improvement in Thing 2's sleeping habits. I won't go into the gory details in this post because I think I have done so in several previous self indulgent posts. Suffice it to say, though it was highly variable, I was getting about an average of 6 hours of sleep per night with the longest stretch typically being less than three hours... for a year and a half and things were starting to look pretty black.
Finally on the advice of a friend (who had urged me to sleep train Thing 2 at 6 months) I consulted a sleep expert whose advise was detailed and specific but boiled down to "let her cry it out". Hubby and I decided the ideal time to do this would be in the summer when he did not have to teach; unfortunately we found ourselves having that conversation at the tail-end of Labor Day week-end right before the start of the academic year. Ideal the timing would not be... Being the slow moving procrastinators we tend to be, we sat on the decision a bit longer and then hubby left on a business trip. I don't know what allowed me to finally overcome my inertia but last night, day 2 into hubby's trip I suddenly worked up the courage to give it a try.
I parked Thing 1 in front of a movie, nursed Thing 2 lightly and then put her, still awake into her pack and play. Whereupon she immediately, apparently moving on raw instinct, sprang up and began screaming... we're talking - I had not even left the room yet! Thinking that this was never going to work, I closed the door and went to join Thing 1 who compounded my already crippling guilt be repeatedly asking me why I wasn't going to comfort Thing 2. The next 20 minutes were agonizing for everyone... the following 15 saw the wailing ramp down to protesting and finally silence. 35 minutes total to fall asleep. I waited another 15 and then went to check on her and found that I could not open the door. Feeling somewhat sick and franctic I reached my hand in and sure enough the door was being blocked her Thing 2 who had, for the first time ever, busted her way out of the pack and play and taken up camp in front of the door. Yes, I felt pretty damn wretched. But dammit... Thing 2 slept through the whole night and I am talking until 6.30 am when I actually went in and woke her up.
Which was encouraging enough to not persist on night 2 (tonight). I had heard from everyone that the first night is the worst. So I was pleased but not surprised when she fell asleep after only 5 minutes tonight (this time I added music-playing night light that probably helped).
I don't really want to wade into the "cry it out" debate; I can only speak based on my experience and my comfort zone and I am certain no expert in child psychology but here we go... I agree with the opponents of cry it out that it is probably not the best experience ever for a small child to be left to cry themselves to sleep (and believe me "probably not the best experience" is highly euphemistic compared to some of the phrase-ology out there). I think it is probably downright traumatic. But you know what? It is also probably pretty damn traumatic for a child to see their mom or dad crying because they are just so f**king tired. It is probably pretty damn traumatic for a child to be injured or killed in a car accident caused by their exhausted or sleep deprived parent and I will admit to getting behind the wheel on a few occasions and thinking that what I was doing was tantamount to drunk driving. At my lowest, I actually found myself one morning in the wee hours crying as I nursed Thing 2 saying to her "please, please, please let me get some sleep, I am begging you" ... that's probably not so good for baby either. So if this whole "cry it out" thing continues on its current trajectory and our entire family (Thing 2 included) finally starts getting proper, uninterrupted sleep than as much as I hated hearing her cry for so long the first night or for that matter for any amount of time on any night, my only real regret is that I did not do it sooner.