Breaking the Rules

This article, entitled "Breaking the Rules," comes from Erin Ferris at

On her first day of life she fell asleep on my chest.

Since that day she's fallen asleep primarily in her crib and then her big girl bed, and on rare occasions sleep has won her over while in her daddy's arms, on her grandpa's chest, or in her car seat or stroller. But not in my arms. Never in my arms.

It's kind of a "which came first, the chicken or the egg?" situation. Do my kids prefer sleeping independently because I sleep trained them? Or were my kids successful at sleep training because they were predisposed to prefer sleeping independently? It's impossible to say for certain, but if I were the betting type, I'd wager that my two children fall into different categories. I think my son prefers sleeping independently because I sleep trained him, and that my daughter succeeded at sleep training because of a predisposition to sleep independently.

I believed - and still believe - very strongly in the importance and benefits of sleep training. I couldn't have survived those first few months of my babies' infancies without a regular nap schedule (I recognize now that postpartum depression contributed to my inability to relax and "go with the flow" during that time period), one that included consistent nap times, durations, and locations. During the napping years - which have officially come to an end...excuse me while I shed a tear or two - my kiddos slept like champs, and to this day they handle bedtime and sleeping through the night in stride. I worked hard to give them the gift of good sleep - and to give my husband and me the gift of peace during naptime and at night - and all four of us are happier and better rested because of it.

I never felt as though I was missing out on anything because my girl wouldn't/couldn't sleep in my arms; she gave me plenty of hugs and kisses and love while awake, and I felt grateful for the comfort she experienced in her bed.

Until a couple of weeks ago, that is, when she developed an ear infection after suffering from a head cold and started crying in her sleep. The only way to console her was to let her sleep on me on the couch. As she drooled down my neck and sweated through the front of my shirt, tears streamed down my face. All I could think about was how it had been nearly five years since she had fallen asleep on my chest. FIVE YEARS.

I don't regret sleep training my children, not even a little bit. But a small part of me wishes that my sleep training manual had included a chapter on breaking the rules. I missed out on five years of naptime cuddles (and drool and sweat) that I can never get back.

About the Author...
Erin Ferris
My name is Erin, and I’m a wife, mother, and writer living in College Station, Texas.

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