Over the weekend we worked with little bubby on sleep training. It was hard for all of us, AND we did it. I am the proud momma of a champion sleeper now. It took two days and lots of resolve on my part along with emotional support from my husband but we successfully made it through to the other side.
A lot came up for me as we worked with little bubby on the skill of being able to put himself to sleep.
- I felt major disconnection from little bubby. This was a major change for us. Prior to sleep training he would spend half his naps on me in the chair and half in his crib, he co-slept with me in the morning for about an hour, and he was still breastfeeding overnight even though the pediatrician said that was absolutely unnecessary. To go from that much physical contact to much less during naps/at bedtime and none overnight was hard.
- I felt major disconnection from myself. Our pediatrician was pretty direct with us about now being the time for little bubby to master this skill and that it should be accomplished using the Ferber method. I was crushed when I heard the word Ferber. I have been saying since before we got pregnant that I was strongly against the Ferber method. I discussed my concerns with the doctor and we had a very frank discussion that included a bit of a debate about development and emotional/psychological well-being. By the end of the conversation I felt better about giving Ferber a shot. It was hard though and I was holding onto so much doubt and feelings of failure as a mother as little bubby tried to figure things out.
- It is not my job to save little bubby from everything. This was a hard pill to swallow because there are absolutely parts of me that want to save him from negative experiences. That is not my job though. My job is to love him and provide him a sense of security/connection as well as a safe environment so he can learn and grow. I realized how triggered I was by his crying, the little parts of me who were never saved my trauma wanted me to rescue him from this experience. I had to keep telling myself, He is safe, he is loved, we have a secure connection – it is okay to give him room to learn and grow, even if it is hard. I had to be very mindful not to project my own emotional state triggered by old wounds onto the situation. That would not be fair to him and it would not be healthy for either of us.
- Little bubby is not small. When given a little space to learn and grow, that is what he did. After two days he was putting himself to sleep without crying in the evening. He now sleeps 10 hours uninterrupted and wakes up with big smiles for momma and daddy.
- Connection was happening all along. By stepping back a little bit to give little bubby room to learn and grow we also gave him the opportunity to start building up his inside connection – connection to self. Autonomy is one of our family values and I did not understand at first that this is his first chance to experience that. This experience gave him the chance to self-soothe as well as do something for himself that momma and daddy used to do for him (put him to sleep).
I realize now that if I saved him from every negative experience what I would really be doing is sending him the message over and over that I do not believe he is big enough to handle whatever it is. Of course I keep all of this in the context of his age and level of development; I am not going to expect my baby bird to fly before he knows how to use his wings. I feel like over the weekend though little bubby learned that he is not small and he can do hard things. And while he may not be ready to lift up off our branch quite yet, he now knows that he has wings. Going forward it is our job to continue to provide him with safe experiences that allow him to use those wings over and over until he is ready to take that first big leap. When he is ready it will not matter if he flies or falls because he will know some very important truths;
He is loved. He has a place of connected security in daddy and I that he can land on. He is big. He can do hard things, including getting up after a fall and trying again until he learns how to fly.
In the midst of disconnection I find a deeper sense of connection with myself, little bubby, and the values we hold close as a family.
I am grateful for this difficult experience.
I am grateful that there was no saving going on during the experience and that little bubby and I were both allowed to figure it out.
I am grateful for love and connection and this life we are creating together.
I am grateful for my sacred truths;
We are not small. We can do hard things.
I am not small. I can do hard things.