Baby (Monitor), Bye, Bye Bye!

Baby (Monitor)

I’m doin’ this alright?
You’re probably gonna cry all night,
I know this can’t be right.
Hey baby come on!
I love it when you sleep
When you aren’t next to me.
So now it’s time to leave and make it alone
I know that I can’t take no more
It ain’t no lie
I don’t wanna hear you snore
Baby (monitor), bye, bye, bye…

The baby monitor—a necessary evil. In an age where SIDS is the scariest thing most new parents face, baby monitors are typically at the top of every soon-to-be and current mom’s wish list. Sure, some parents co-sleep or baby-wear for naps, and they don’t need a baby monitor (and let’s not forget the parents who win the baby lottery and have babies who sleep immediately through the night). But for those of us who chose a crib (or who didn’t win the super baby lottery), a baby monitor is a parenting essential.

While of course my husband and I wanted a baby monitor, we went the economic route and bought a simple audio-only model. Initially, we had the crib set up in our bedroom for the first few months, and the monitor was strictly for nap time use, or for the hour or two she went to sleep in her crib before we called it a night ourselves. At first, the baby monitor and I, we had a good relationship. I could rely on it to let me know why my daughter was up and moving, when we finally moved her into her own room and she needed a nighttime feeding, or when she was having an occasional night terror.

But then we hit the six month mark, and my husband and I began to disagree on sleep solutions for our daughter. He was a fan of the Ferber/cry-it-out method, and me, not so much. There’s just something about being a mother; it’s just really hard to hear your child cry in the middle of the night (and I wasn’t even breastfeeding). So there I would be, laying in bed, listening to a heart-wrenching cry and hearing my husband say, “You know, if we keep giving in, she’s going to realize that all she has to do is cry and we’ll go get her.” A dilemma for sure.

We eventually reached somewhat of a compromise; I would agree to let her cry it out for 10-15 minutes, and if it went on longer, I would check on her. And in doing so I learned that sometimes babies will just cry for a few minutes and go right back to sleep. But I also learned that sometimes, she really was hungry and needed that nighttime feeding. And sometimes, she just wanted to be held. But as a working mom, I could only do so much nighttime holding without being a zombie the next day. Sometimes, I would get up, feed her, lay her back down, and she would cry and cry and cry because she just wanted to be held. I felt pretty darn guilty turning the baby monitor volume all the way to low, but it had to be done.

And then one day, a tragedy/miracle happened.

Our daughter, growing ever mobile, dropped the baby monitor down a flight of stairs, and it was a goner. My first instinct was to rush out and buy a new one, but I decided to give the motherly instinct a try. And you know what? It worked. If she cried for a few minutes, chances are that I slept through it, but if she needed to be fed, I knew it. I didn’t need to rely on a baby monitor to tell me. Occasionally, I would still wake up in the middle of the night and just peek in on her, and to this day, my husband and I still check on her before we go to bed. Maybe we got lucky in our own way; it could be any number of factors, but my daughter has been sleeping through the night since she was about eight months old, and I have to give a little credit to the broken baby monitor (and my wonderful husband for decent compromise).

I’m not saying baby monitors aren’t a necessity…if I had another newborn, I would still be likely to purchase another. But I think sometimes they surpass their usefulness, and not in a good way. Responding to every cry, whine and moan doesn’t lead to the most restful sleep for parents, and sometimes babies really can soothe themselves back to sleep. Even if you rely on a baby monitor, just don’t be afraid to rely on your motherhood instincts.

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