That nutty idea we had to sleep-train our kid, where I left the house for three nights and my husband endured the crying? It worked.
Here’s how it went: The first night, I could barely get out of the house. I felt guilty for leaving Tess and equally bad about leaving Thorold. Who walks out on their infant and husband? But he was a star, pointing out that there was no way I would sleep through her crying and he might (he didn’t). He reminded me that I had to be rested for the TV appearances tied to the launch of the book (translation: We gotta get rid of those bags under your eyes). And he recounted that I have borne the brunt of the sleeplessness for the past four months. So I went. And slept. And it was glorious.
There’s a lot of economics at work here. First, the comparative advantage: Mine is waking up when babies cry and comforting them (and then struggling to go back to sleep). My husband’s is sleeping, unless I’m totally exhausted in which case he wakes, comforts and falls asleep quickly.
There are trade-offs at work here too: he endured three nights of pain for a future of good sleeping – the kids and ours. Then there’s the commitment device I talked about: I would never have survived her crying. And now that my husband did, when she whimpers at 5 am, and I am inclined to go to her, I know it would undo my husband’s hard work. So I don’t.
And that means no more 3 am feedings. Hallelujah.