Roughly 547 hours past my breaking point

Last Wednesday I mostly slept through the night. I woke up completely hung over from all that sleep, but not at all refreshed. Turns out, one night of sleep does not make up waking up at least twice a night for nearly twelve months and the occasional night of nearly no sleep at all. (Starting with the night I went into labor and only slept two hours.)

Based on my rough calculations, I’ve missed out on about 547.5 hours of sleep in the past year.

All that lost sleep has done amazing things for my personality.

Until recently, the only thing I was willing to do about Mary Virginia’s night waking was complain about it. The reason was simple: she kept getting sick. The only way I know how to interact with a sad, sick baby is to comfort and cuddle them and give them anything they want.

David was a terrible sleeper, but Mary Virginia is excessive. She was nursing about every three hours; more at night than during the day. But she was also dealing with ear infections and fevers and an upset stomach that comes with antibiotics. So where does that leave me? I’ll tell you where. In her room, nursing her at 11:30 p.m., 3 a.m. and 6 a.m.

On three separate occasions in the past six months we’ve gotten her drop her wakings down to once a night. Every time we made that little bit of progress, she got another ear infection, went on antibiotics, and then the whole thing started over again.

Before Memorial Day weekend, I took Mary Virginia to the doctor to make sure her ears were clear. With a clean bill of health, we set off and our teething baby with already terrible sleeping habits made sure we really experienced every moment of that vacation.

Now that we’re home and back in our normal schedule and in our normal beds, we’ve enrolled Mary Virginia in a strict regimen of sleep training.

Before going to sleep, Tom and I make an action plan, because if we try to make decisions in the middle of the night the two of us start to behave in such a way that is only appropriate for reality TV reunion shows. This is what our plan looks like: when she cries, I stay in bed and Tom gets up. Mary Virginia loves her daddy, but not in the middle of the night. So he holds her, rocks her, sings to her, promises her a pony for her first birthday, and then he puts her back into bed. We let her cry up to five minutes, then we start the whole thing over again.

Here’s the thing that’s funny about being a parent. Every single parent who read the above paragraph formed an opinion. And if I was reading this on someone else’s website, I would have. Some of the people are thinking: Five minutes is NOTHING!And you aren’t supposed to pick her up! TOUGHEN UP YOU TWO!! And then there are other people who can’t believe we let our baby cry for even a moment. Other people are somewhere in the middle. We are. But here’s what we know 1) we know Mary Virginia doesn’t need to eat in the middle of the night 2) we know that we’re very, very tired. 3) We’re willing to devote every moment between sunrise and sunset cuddling with Mary Virginia and reminding her that we love her very very much.

I haven’t been happy about doing this with EITHER child, but here’s the difference between sleep training with my first child and sleep training with my second: when we did this with David, I cried the whole time he was crying because I thought those five minutes would swallow both of us whole. I pulled my sheets over my head and prayed for the five minutes to pass so I could run into his room and apologize for abandoning him forever.

Now that we’re doing it with Mary Virginia, guess what I do during that five minutes. I fall asleep.

My part of the plan is to watch the clock and tell Tom when five minutes are up, and then he’ll supposed to go remind her that her parents are no more than 20 feet away and are looking forward to seeing her when the sun is up.

But Tom keeps waking me up because Mary Virginia is still crying and five minutes have surely passed. 

Huh? What? YES! IT’S BEEN FIVE MINUTES! You’re up, Tom!

So, I guess, who knows how long she cries since I’m the time-keeper.

We’re still working at it, habits like these are hard to break. After all, she’s been doing this her whole life, and Mary Virginia has always had serious endurance in the middle of the night. Because when a computer guy and a creative girl have a baby, the result is a very focused insomniac who is hell-bent on being heard. 

But I need to tell you about the first night; the first night was amazing. Mary Virginia woke up at her normal time and when Tom walked in instead of me, she looked up at him as if to say, “Well it’s about time you guys tried this,” and then went back to sleep until the morning.

DSC_9187 (1)


  1. Erin D June 2, 2014

    The crying is hard – especially because babies have this way of making it sound like they are going to die if you don’t get them. With both of our kids we had to let them cry hard for about 10-20 minutes for 2-3 nights and then guess what? It stopped and they never went back (unless sick, or teething, or ear infections – oh the ear infections I so feel your pain – Caleb had soooo many). Not sure if Mary Virginia will be like that but I sure hope so for your sake. Hang in there and yes you really need a good week of sleep before you feel “normal” again I think.

    • amandakrieger June 2, 2014

      oh my goodness erin, she’s been terrible. i wrote this after our first day and it’s only gone downhill. she cried for 1.5 hours last night, longer the night before. and the weird thing is that she’s waking up at 11 — when she DEFINITELY isn’t hungry — then she sleeps until morning. but keeping us up from 11 to 12:30 is a bummer.
      we’ve stretched out the crying time but it hasn’t helped…yet. we have high hopes that things will turn around soon.
      (and the other thing is that she’s been getting a tooth. it popped through last night, so maybe that was the problem!?!?)

  2. Erin D June 3, 2014

    Oh yuck!! I sure hope it’s the tooth. I feel like Caleb often got ear infections while teething because of the extra fluid/runny nose that comes with teething so I hope that doesn’t happen for you so you can actually get some sleep 🙂 You know your baby so just keep trying different things and hopefully something will work. I was talking with one of my best friends last night and she had to let her 2nd son cry for 30 minutes a night every night for a year (from 4-5 months until almost 18 months). That’s a worse case scenario though and will pray that MV does NOT do that to you 😉

  3. Lara June 4, 2014

    Yes to this whole post. Except I’m obviously not in favor of your baby girl getting repeated ear infections. But yes to how hard it is to get a baby to sleep through the night! Your descriptions make me laugh – because they’re so true! Falling asleep in-between checking times – yes. So here is what is hard for me. A couple weeks ago I got sick, was put on strong antibiotics, and we had to use formula for the first time. We gave her a big bottle before bed, and then she started sleeping from 7pm until 5am! WHAT??? So then I felt TERRIBLE because clearly WAS SHE REALLY HUNGRY THIS WHOLE TIME??? Man, parenting is tough. 🙂 Also, bless the dear parents whose babies sleep through the night beginning at 6 weeks, but please dear parents, don’t tell us your stories!

  4. Tawnya Faust June 4, 2014

    Hey! Stopping by from the link up! What a great post!! Also I am NOT judging AT ALL 🙂 I think every child is different and we as parents do what we have to do to make it through, if that means letting your kid cry in the crib to teach them to self soothe than so be it. If you’re not comfortable with that, that’s totally OK too, there are other ways I’m sure 🙂

    We sleep trained at about a year, and I will NOT be as hesitant to do it the second time around. I found my relationship with my daughter improved when I was getting sleep. I was so worried about ruining our relationship by letting her cry in her crib for 5 minutes when in reality I was tainting it by being such an overtired mama!!


  5. Courtney June 5, 2014

    Before I had Aria, I was like sure we might do some crying, I can see the logic when she is old enough if we need to. Then I had her and we tried it and that crying was the hardest thing to not react to ever. I think there must be some biological need to go in and get your baby when they are crying, it was SO strong a desire. I think as a parent you should do whichever sleeping you prefer! We did 5 minute and then increased from there. She’s a great sleeper now, and we are all happier with a full night of sleep. Hopefully it won’t take Mary too long to figure out that she can self soothe back to sleep, and everybody can have a good night sleep.

  6. Christin June 7, 2014

    Gosh I love your realness! There isnt a right or wrong its what is best for yall and I respect the heck out of you for your vulnerability! Love this blog! Thankful I came across it on Casey’s linky!

  7. Sarah June 28, 2014

    Haha, I loved the ending! We did the crying too because my daughter needed to learn how to put herself to sleep instead of being rocked to sleep. It took about two weeks but she cried less and less each night. Bedtimes are now easy, here’s to hoping that comes your way!


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *