Sleep training gets a bad rap. You don't have to talk to too many moms or look on the internet for too long to get this message. If you want your child to sleep well (especially for reasons that don't purely involve your child's welfare), people start to point fingers and call names.
"What a bad, selfish person!"
"What an uncaring, lazy parent!"
"How dare you not put everything, your health, well-being and marriage, before your child's every need and happiness."
"What a bad, selfish parent!"
Maybe you don't even need someone to tell you this before the guilt sets in. As parents, we give physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually to our children all day, every day. We sacrifice like crazy. We try so hard to do things so perfectly that feelings of failure and guilt are never far from many of our minds. But what about us? What about our marriage? What about our family as a whole?
Can nurturing ever be taken to the extreme?
I think it can.
Balance is needed in everything. And we have our own limits to consider. There is a time when we turn from a great mommy to a mommy martyr. And it seems the subject of sleep is often one of these times.
We need sleep to survive and most of us need a fair amount of it to take us from mindless zombies to functioning humans (I know I sure do). We shouldn't feel guilty because we want some of it. We need it just like our children need it. It isn't a desire, it is a need. Sleep is food for the brain.
Inadequate sleep has many costs. If you aren't getting enough sleep you're more vulnerable to depression, your marriage can suffer, your temper and emotional stability suffers, your health suffers and your children can suffer. "A sleep-deprived family is an unhappy, unhealthy one." (Bedtiming 4)
See adults and sleep and children and sleep for more on this.
We need to balance our needs with the needs of our family. We are no use to anyone when we are too tired to think or control our emotions or function in any ability beyond eat, step, sit. If you aren't nurturing yourself, you don't have any energy left to nurture your family.
A baby's sleep must work for the entire family. Everyone's needs should be considered. You are a family, after all.
Maybe this means you will continue doing what you are doing. Everything is nice and peachy. Maybe this means your sleep training will only involve the encouragement of good sleep habits (see how I define sleep training here). Maybe this will mean you will do some other form of sleep training (some thoughts on some of that). Personal capabilities and limits vary just as situations vary. We need to do what is best for us, our baby and our family.
So drop the guilt. And get some sleep!