Perhaps, it’s just a product of sleep deprivation. Maybe it’s my tendency to use hyperbole. Possibly, it’s accumulated stress of four months with an infant. But let me just say this with a straight face: if there is actually fire in hell, my wife and I have some books about infant sleep habits, and I’m more than willing to let them be the tender of the flames of infernal Hades.
Certainly, there are people who embrace their BabyWise or Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Baby in the same way they hug their precious child, but I’d be more than happy to spend my Friday watching interstate traffic drive over these books….from dawn to dusk.
While I am sure that these books are written by nice people with impressive educations and that their message certainly intends to help young parents, in our experience, the books encapsulate the Law in its ugliest form. As with all things related to the Law, the seduction lies in the myth that you legitimately have control over your world, that the peace (and quiet) you long for can be attained on your terms by your means.
Every young parent wants their infant to sleep from 7:00PM to 7:00AM without a whimper. These books promise to have the miracle cure for a full night of sleep for parents and baby, if you do all the right things. Some of the myths we’ve bought include:
* Regular naps during the day equate to great sleep at night: sleep begets sleep
* Maintaining a rigidly consistent schedule means baby sleeps better
* Avoiding “over-stimulation” by committing your baby to a monastic lifestyle makes for quiet nights
* Adopting the mindset of a Guatanamo Bay prison guard with regard to letting your child “cry it out” will lead to twelve hours of sleep within a week
On the other hand, you have another corpus of books that say precisely the opposite of these books for healthy sleep habits.
Underneath these “help” books lies the Law’s best friend: Accusation. If you deviate from the plan, your child will experience permanent damage and all sleep progress has been lost. It’s back to square one. If your child is not sleeping twelve hours at three months, then it’s because you’re a failure as a parent. The formula of the Law is pure and transparent in the world of infant sleep literature: control, performance, judgment, fear. It’s a combo as sweet as breast-milk, or so they say.
In four months of parenting, we’ve read the book and adopted the ultimate sleep plan. With all of the methods applied, I am pretty sure you could give seventeen pound Baby Cameron Ambien, chased with a glass of wine, and he still would bring out his 2:00AM (and 3:00AM and 4:00AM and 5:00AM) war-chant without any impediment. Cameron is the cutest, sweetest, plumpest thing in the world, and homeboy is just not ready to sleep through the night. In time he will; that time is not now.
One of the many great blessings Cameron has brought us is the brutal recognition of how little control we have in the world. He has reminded us of the gentle call of the Father, which moves us from the cruel burden of a life of a control to the freeing release of all things to His kind embrace. Christ calls us to the relief of trusting in His wisdom and love. The deepest things we need come, not out of rigid performance but out of humble submission. Thanks be to God that the way of Christ diametrically contrasts the way of neurotic, sleep habit building.