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.
Thanks for the touching article, Gordon.
I’m curious about having your son sleep on his belly. I always thought that position increased the chances of SIDS:
For the majority of his life he has been a back sleeper. It has only been recently that he has developed into a belly and side sleeper. Even when we put him on his back he flips over. We both check up on him during the course of the evening to make sure he is okay.