Anyone watching Jane the Virgin, on the CW? You’ve got to if you’re not. So funny! So soap opera-y. All kinds of twists and turns. Great cast. Great storyline. Fun watch.
One scene that stood out this morning, while watching a recording of this past Monday’s show (S2|E9 “Chapter Thirty-One) is how Jane (the main character played by Gina Rodriguez) deals with her baby waking up at all hours of the night, crying.
What a blast to the past! Elizabeth was my baby-in-training. Without much thought, just lots of common sense, when Liz arrived to that point when she cried during the night, was no longer a ‘newborn’, rather she was around the 9 month mark, I knew I had to break her of the potential bad habit of wailing unnecessarily and me running to her, attending to her every whim. Hence, the “Let her cry.” situation started, no matter Rudy’s apprehension.
During the show’s episode, Jane spends lots of time reading up on material explaining the value of gentle, soothing ways to help babies sleep through the night, which disrupts everyone else’s sleep, and irritates Grandma, the character I most identify with. She tells Jane to just let Mateo (the baby) cry. Jane thinks that’s a mean, selfish remedy.
Back in my new-parenting days, my adorable, bright smiling Elizabeth was beginning to recognize and understand (as I am sure we are all attuned to, even at such a young age) routines, our daily happenings and what happens when. So, for me, 7:30 pm was the prime time to put her down to sleep for the night. Beforehand she ate (her delicious jarred baby food, a warmed bottle of milk) and had a soothing bath. I swathed her in comfortable cotton baby wear, gently laid her in her crib, kissed her goodnight, told her how much I loved her, then walked out of the room, closing the door behind me. (Note: Rudy was part of this routine, though there was a long span of time he was working the graveyard shift, therefore Elizabeth’s sleep routine was almost solely my own).
Anyway, five minutes later she began to cry. In my heart-of-hearts I knew I was doing the right thing by leaving her to cry herself to sleep (plus, a doctor once told me that Elizabeth was strengthening her lungs with all the hollering she did, which I considered a healthy bonus). Knee-deep into the routine was when Rudy experienced the crying for the first time (because of a night off from work). He’d sit outside her bedroom door and feel for her. He’d shed tears, and say things like “Just let me hold her for a minute.” but I knew I had to be firm, not really because of the crying but because I was trying to establish a routine for Liz.
It took about two weeks, maybe two and a half, for Elizabeth to realize her crying wasn’t getting her the attention she desired so that when, one night, I followed the same routine I always did she watched me walk out of the room, heard me close the door, and fell asleep.
Allowing her to fall asleep on her own, without me spending time rocking her, holding her, feeding her at all hours of the night, in the long run benefitted all of us, but mostly Elizabeth. As she grew older, bedtime was just that. Bedtime. She never challenged us. She knew 7:30 pm was the end of her day and as she got older and the time changed to 8:00, then 9:00, then 10:00. And she accepted each time frame. And overall, in the end, Elizabeth loved bedtime, going to sleep after a long day of play, school, or whatever.
Jane’s grandma has it right, in my opinion. Just let Mateo cry himself to sleep. The benefits out-way anything else.