To cut to the chase, I think it's both, but I did confide in him one of my insecurities about sleep training. What if The Baby is not actually sleeping any better? What if all we're doing is choosing to ignore her distress so we can sleep better and have more hands-off time during the day? I suspect if you've gone through CIO sleep training or are considering it, you've dealt with this feeling or something like it.
As part of my therapy (finally had my first appointment after almost three month's wait!), I'm working on identifying the thoughts that bring me down and make me feel angry, identifying how they make me feel, and working to get to the bottom of whether or not those thoughts and feelings are rooted in the real world or not, and ways of redirecting them. It's called Cognitive Behavior Therapy, and what I've just written is about as much as I know about it, so if you want to know more, you know... Google it up.
Anyway, as part of trying to figure out if thoughts and feelings are rooted in reality, you look for objective evidence, i.e. information that another person could look at and that would lead that person to the same conclusion that you did. So when I ponder that question of whether or not I look to our trusty spreadsheet:
Couple things: C = crying, A = awake but content, A/C = intermittent crying. On the 9th, The Baby had her 4-month vaccinations, which accounts for the hug sleep numbers over the next 24 hours.
First thing to note is those HUGE, uninterrupted blocks of time down at the bottom. That's right - all week we've been putting her down at 6:00 give or take, and she's staying down until after midnight. HELL YEAH! We had friends over for dinner the other night. They got to see The Baby for half an hour, then we put her down, and we enjoyed adult time for the rest of the night. Magical.
Second thing to note are the sleep totals at the bottom. Pre-training, we were working really hard to get 14 hours a day. Totals have gone up, and we're not working at it like we were before.
Third thing: Not much crying toward the end of the week. This isn't to say she never squawks, but she is more content between sleep cycles and moves more quickly and smoothly from wake back to sleep. We've had minor regressions that still make me feel like a bad parent and horrible human being, but the spreadsheet helps me see that we're on an upward trajectory.
So are things really getting better, or did we just do it to make our lives easier? Honestly, it's probably a little bit of both, but way more of the former than the latter, and here's the thing about the latter - it counts. If I'm better rested, my mood is brighter, I'm more patient, and I'm better equipped to give The Baby the care she needs. Maybe I'm justifying here, but I'm learning to think of health holistically. It's not JUST about what's right for The Baby, or for me, or my wife, or the dog. Each has to be considered as part of the overall health of The Family. Our #1 priority is The Baby, but not if it means the dog is neglected and starts to piss and shit all over the dining room (which happened). We'll make sure The Baby is getting the care she needs, but maybe pull back before it sends Papa to the looney bin, eh?