Our strategy yesterday in getting Jada on Philly time was to try to limit her day-time “nap” (because of jet lag, she had slept eight hours during the day on her first day in the US), keep her awake and stimulated during the day, and leave her alone – even if she cried – at night. A sharp contrast to our usual belief, that when a baby cries you should always respond, so that they learn that they can communicate their needs.
(The other school of thought, of course, says that doing so will cause them to take advantage, get dependent, and make it impossible for the parents to get the child on a reasonable schedule. Having read the literature, I believe that school of thought to be false, and that it is good for a child to learn that she can control her situation and that her parents will do something in response to her crying. But all of this has been theory until now.)
Her day-time “nap” was five hours this time, and would’ve been shorter but both of us were just too exhausted and relished having such a long period of time to catch up on things. Her grandparents arrived in the afternoon and were immediately assigned the responsibility of keeping Jada awake and getting her tired. Evening rolled around, we went through our bedtime routine, and got her down at a sensible hour, hoping she’d sleep through the night but guessing she wouldn’t.
She didn’t. She awoke just a few hours later, and Amy tried desperately to feed her and get her back down, hoping this would just be a middle-of-the-night feeding that wasn’t unusual for Jada when she was in China (either at the orphanage or with us). I awoke at 1:00 am when Amy returned to our bedroom, having finally gotten Jada to fall asleep. But no sooner was Amy under the covers that Jada awoke, crying. Amy and I huddled up and decided to let her cry – for up to one hour.
Well, cry she did. At 2:00 am, Amy went down and repeated the middle-of-the-night feeding routine. I fell asleep, and awoke at 4:00 am, and Jada was crying and Amy was asleep. It is likely she will have cried for most of the night.
We are at peace with our plan. Jada is clean, fed, and loved. The only reason she’s crying is she wants to be with either me or Amy. She has to learn to fall asleep on her own and sleep through the night. Amy and I agreed that even if Jada didn’t sleep a lick all night, but cried all night, if we let her cry and we went to sleep at least the two of us would have energy during the day to keep her awake and get her tired enough to sleep through the night the next night.
Other parents who are reading this may be horrified or supportive of our choices. We welcome your feedback and covet your prayers. While it pains me that Jada cried for most of the night, I feel good that we are probably closer today to her being on East Coast time than we were 24 hours ago. And I also feel good that I got some uninterrupted sleep, and that Amy did too. Last night wasn’t great, but at least two of us slept.