This is a true story about one of the most difficult things I have ever had to do in my life.
For months, my wife and I had a routine — I would rock Chaim Yosef to sleep and then put him down in our bed.
I would then get in bed and, knowing that he was surrounded by a virtual fortress of protective pillows, fall asleep until at some point when my wife would get in bed later.
He would comfortably sleep through the night, sometimes waking to nurse — but since he was right next to my wife, this was no problem and continued being no problem until a crib was introduced into the equation.
My wife insisted that he had reached a phase in his life where, if left alone, he would fall asleep on his own if he were sufficiently tired.
I tried it one evening but he started crying immediately after I put him down, and I spent two hours rocking him to sleep — my wife reprimanded me for not doing what she said was the right formula for getting him to sleep independence.
The following evening, I did exactly what she specified — I put Chaim Yosef down in bed at the right time, belly down, and covered him with a blanket, and walked away despite the howls and the tears and the pain in my heart that I felt hearing him cry.
I walked away, as hard as it was, and just sat down with my wife to watch television, sure that it was just a matter of hearing twenty minutes of crying — Elizabeth’s limit before taking further steps — and I would be back in there trying to rock him and dry those tears on my shirt.
Nearly seven excruciating minutes later, there was complete and total silence — and it turned out that not only had he fallen asleep, but I had learned a valuable lesson about how I may have been not helping Chaim by being there.
Now we still do need to intervene and rock him a little — but generally speaking, he is just fine falling asleep all on his own just because he is sufficiently tired to do so.