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Fer Cryin' Out Loud

Anne was inconsolable last night. She woke up at 2am and decided that no amount of bouncing on the gym ball and / or patting her back was going to stop her from crying. We tried all the tricks we learned over the last half a year of improvisational parenting. After twenty minutes (it's a pretty short list of tricks) I gave up and we decided to cross the line.
<a href="http://www.babycenter.com/refcap/baby/babysleep/7755.html">Ferberizing</a> Anne wasn't an option I would have considered. Somehow to allow a child to cry herself to sleep seemed awfully cruel. It doesn't help when the child in question is this cute little girl with pouty little rosebud lips. But it was late at night and we had exhausted our options. I put her back in her crib.
About a week ago, Faith heard how her Vice-Principal, also the mother of a young child, conditioned her kid to sleep through the night. It involved four-hour-long crying sessions, and after two nights <em>voila</em>, baby was sleeping right through.
I looked at my watch. It'd be 7am before this stops. I wasn't sure if anyone on earth could scream their lungs out for 4 hours straight. And I sure as heck hoped that none of my neighbours owned an axe with which to chop down my door in an attempt to silence the din.
As far as screaming goes, Anne always makes it a point to exceed expectations. When you think it's impossible for her to get any louder, she kicks it up a notch. Then two. Then three. It's the parenting equivalent of "chicken" – when two stupid egoistic drivers go full speed toward each other to see who flinches first. Anne literally <strong>dares you</strong> to leave her be and see how loud she can go.
In these moments a million things pass through my mind. "Will her vocal chords be irreparably scarred?", "I'm sure I can hear this two blocks away", "Will she think I'm a bad parent for not 'being there' for her?". I look at Faith, who has the same agonised look on her face. She holds my hand.
20 minutes.
Sudden silence. I'm pretty sure she's dead. No one could hold a scream that long without breathing. I raise my head a little, in case she's still looking for a response. Her crib looks like it's been lambasted by a tornado. But at the corner lies Anne, tired silly from her own effort and sleeping like, well, a baby.
After reading all the online comments on Ferberising, I still don't know if it's the right or wrong thing to do. I'm not intentionally trying to "teach her independence". I'd like to be there for her as much as the next parent. But it is a sad fact of life that parents don't hold all the answers, and children sometimes need to find their own way. Sometimes all we can do is hold our breath and watch while they do.

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