Losing your first battle as a father

Losing your first battle as a father
Photo by Bastien Jaillot / Unsplash

I’ve lost my first battle today. Battle of wills as my partner calls it. We had been talking about sleep training for a while without any clear actions, and following an online sleep training class that my partner joined today we have finally somewhat decided to start sleep training our daughter.

I’ve had less of an urgency to sleep train our daughter as I was not the one getting my nipples nibbled on 3-5 times a night. However, the occasional frustrating rocking sessions where our daughter demonstrates a bridge at its full Olympic wrestling might and sympathizing with my partner led me to agree to sleep training. My partner introduced me to the basics: the extinction, the chair method, the Ferber, the Pick-Up and Put-Down etc.. I suggested that we try the extinction jokingly (maybe not) attracted to its pulling-a-band-aid-off approach. In the end we settled on the chair method and the Ferber method, though we did not exactly agree on when exactly we would start it.

During her second morning nap, my partner tried the chair method. She placed Ninjingoo in bed and has read to her without picking her up. I could only hear the first few minutes as I had a class to teach (taught online for a day because of frigid temperatures in UB). It sounded like it was going well until Lhamaa grew conscious about a loud albeit not-so-distracting cry disrupting my class . This is when she picked her up and went to bed together for an afternoon nap.

Few hours after, Ninjingoo’s evening nap time came. I’d totally forgotten about sleep training until Ninjingoo would not fall asleep after an epic display of ABBA and Keane medley. I grew frustrated, perhaps, too early and that’s when the damned Ferber method came to mind. I was emotionally led to put Ninjingoo down and not come back for 5 minutes. She was alright for the first 20 seconds or so until she started crying for mommy and daddy. After all it was mommy and daddy who put her to sleep every single time since she was introduced to this cold chaotic world.

Three intervals of Ferber method later, our apartment building’s fire alarm sounded out in the hallway at the exact same moment when our air purifier (yes, we have one and that’s a topic for later) roared. Fatherly instincts and innate survival senses got me up to check for any signs of fire. This is all happening concurrent with a screeching and pleading cry to be picked up, mind you. After confirming that we would not be consumed by a raging fire, on the way back to the bedroom I see that Ninjingoo had covered her head with her swaddle and both her legs stuck in between her crib railings. Naturally, I rush to remove the swaddle from her face and help remove her legs from the railings at which point I picked her up. This was an instinctual offspring-saving, not a conscious decision to pick her up because she has been crying for a little more than an hour.

This is the exact moment when Lhamaa walked into the room and had discovered that I’d given in and succumbed to the big boss' demands. It was too late when I realized that I now had two women to make peace offerings to, one a 7 month-old joyful baby who’d probably forget the whole ordeal after a warm snuggle session, one a 290 month old woman who’d remind me of my non-existent willpower for the next 40 years (assuming average lifespan of a Mongolian man).

After making peace with the council of women, I now reflect on the day and console myself with the thought ‘I might’ve lost a battle today, but the war is not lost’ as I dream of the day when I could wake up to Alexa playing a song for me rather than a full-force slap or a kick to the face.

December 2, 2022