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Thursday, September 22, 2005  

Bedtime Stories

Last night, M. Small went to sleep quite a bit earlier than normal. Before his last bottle of the night, in fact, which lately has been around 9:00 or 9:30. We let him sleep for an hour and a half, and then I made up his bottle and took him out of his crib at around 10:15 to feed it to him.

It was pretty much the normal feeding routine, except that it was an hour later in the evening, I was doing it instead of Trash, and I was waking him up to feed him instead of feeding him to put him to sleep. He put away eight ounces and change without ever opening his eyes. I rocked him for a bit to lull him the rest of the way back to sleep, stood up, stepped over to his crib, and bent down to put him in it.

As soon as his back touched the mattress, it arched up and he made a sound like somebody was poking him with very long, hot, electrified needles.

I picked him back up and snuggled him against me as I stood there at the crib rail. He went back to sleep almost immediately. I swayed from side to side for good measure for a few minutes, his head on my shoulder. And then I put him in bed again, and his imaginary torture started all over. Repeat half a dozen times.

This has happened several nights in the past few weeks. Our perfect, ideal, angel child, who was sleeping through the night at four months, has apparently decided that that's for babies. If he's going to sleep, he wants to be held while he's doing it. For a while, the only way to get him into his crib was to make sure he was well and truly asleep before putting him there; essentially, fooling him into lying down. And even then, just putting him down would often wake him up again, and begin the cycle anew. It must seem strange to him; he never goes to sleep in his crib, but he's always waking up there. Kind of like being a drunk with a really determined enabler.

We're pretty sure that he used to wake up in the middle of the night, and just lay there watching his mobile in the glow from the nightlight until he fell asleep again thirty seconds or two minutes or five hours later, because what else was he going to do? But now, he's realized that we exist even when we're not there in the room with him. So how to get us there? Send up a storm of howling, naturally. I don't know how many nights Trash and I went down, trying to soothe him into a state where he would go into his crib again, only to have him sit up crying every time until Trash gave up and slept on the sofa with M. Small snuggled in just above the space between her body and the back of the couch. So the kid actually got plenty of sleep. The wife? Not so much.

This was at its worst the week before we went camping, and the week immediately after. Not least of all because it kept happening at different times: at midnight, at one, at two, at four, at five. And the night after that one was even worse.

The worst of that is over (for now, at least), but his schedule is shifting so that he takes longer naps during the day and falls asleep earlier at night. I wasn't about to let his 8:45 bedtime turn into just a ninety-minute nap. Last night, at 10:45, after trying over and over again for about twenty minutes to get him back to sleep, I knew what I had to do.

It was one of Trash's rare nights off from childcare, otherwise I would have called her in to put him to sleep for me. And even then she might have ended up doing the same thing I did, which was to carry the mostly-sleeping kid out to the couch and let him burrow in.

We have a pretty comfy sofa. There's a nice pillow from our bed on one end of it, because we got tired of carrying it up and down the stairs and just left it there. There are sheets and blankets, and if there's anything more snuggly than almost thirty pounds of fleece-clad deadweight drooling onto your shirt, I'd like to know what it is. All those nights I tried to convince Trash to go upstairs and sleep in our bed while I took a turn at couch duty, I wasn't being entirely selfless.

As I lay there, and as he made sleepy and sporadic attempts to wiggle out of my arms, I thought of how there have times when I've looked forward to when he's older. When he can either sleep through the night reliably or entertain himself when he doesn't. When he's old enough to talk to us, and feed himself, and not need his diaper changed every few hours, and not have someone in the room with him almost every minute he's awake, and be able to leave the house for an afternoon without a big duffel bag full of supplies. And then I thought about how when he's that old, the days of me lying on the couch while he sleeps on top of me will be over. Done. Gone.

And then I wasn't in such a hurry for him to get older any more.

Something tells me it's not really up to me, though.

* * *

As if to drive that very fact home, his first birthday is just a few weeks away. Feel free to send him a birthday message at m.tinygiant@gmail.com. And keep it clean, please. I don't want any language he doesn't hear at home.

* * *

Today's best search phrase: "Seinfeld Puddy have to listen how you're smarter work everyone." Smarter than…who, again?

posted by M. Giant 10:12 PM 10 comments

10 Comments:

At first, I was thinking acid reflux since you'd just fed him. But my seven-month-old went thru that (and I'm well versed in the couch sleeping position) very early on and continued with it sporadically until we just put her in our bed. So we co-slept until she was about 3 months (something I SWORE I'd never do). She started it again a few weeks ago, and it turned out to be an ear infection - the pressure on her ears was worse when we laid her down. I don't really have a point, other than I feel (felt) your pain.

By Anonymous Vanessa, at September 23, 2005 at 5:38 AM  

One of my most favorite things to do when my kids were babies was to have them sleep on my chest while they napped. Now that they're three and five it's just a distant memory but one that I'll always treasure. Enjoy every minute. Goodness knows they grow up fast.

By Anonymous Stephanie, at September 23, 2005 at 7:15 AM  

Okay, it's hard to come up with a tactful way to put this, and I'm reasonably sure it's something you've probably heard, and you're careful to avoid this, and even if you hadn't heard it wouldn't matter anyway, but Just In Case I should bring it up:

There was a period, a few years ago, when parenting books and pretty much everyone encouraged parents to sleep with their babies because it encouraged Bonding and they instinctively wouldn't overlay them and smother them and it would be fine.

Recently this is being questioned after multiple incidents in which exhausted parents slept with their babies, both in beds and on couches, and smothered them.

I fully understand the whole "whatever gets the kid to sleep"/"total parental exhaustion" thing, but in case you hadn't heard that the "sleep with your baby, it's fine!" advice turns out to be less than entirely good, I thought I'd mention it.

By Anonymous Anonymous, at September 23, 2005 at 7:19 AM  

This makes me laugh. Apparently, I did exactly this for ages as a baby, driving my mother insane. (I think she planned on being a stay at home mom until I started this. Then she got a job teaching at a technical college! No crying babies there.) Apparently, I use to start to cry as soon as I was lifted down over the edge of the crib. I was fine until I entered the Evil Sphere of Influence, or something. No advice, sorry. Just saying you don't have the only baby who develops a completely random aversion to sleeping in the crib. Hopefully it passes soon.

By Blogger peasantwench, at September 23, 2005 at 7:39 AM  

I was looking at M. Small's wish list link on the right, and it gave me an idea. Since he seems to like Baby Einstein so much, maybe you could have a tape start in his room and he might fall asleep watching it. Not a perfect solution, but you wouldn't have to stay up as long with him. Just an idea.

By Anonymous Erin, at September 23, 2005 at 9:14 AM  

Isn't there a web site that shows important events and famous births that happen on your birthday? M. Small might like to have that e-mailed to him so he can read it when he grows up.

Are you getting billions of e-mails?

By Anonymous Anonymous, at September 23, 2005 at 2:00 PM  

Have you tried having him listen to the soothing sounds of Britney Spears?

By Anonymous Anonymous, at September 23, 2005 at 6:34 PM  

Don't worry about it. We've read that kids go through rough spots when they are working on developmental jumps. m.small is probably working on either vocabulary or grammer (making two or three word sentences). Just imagine how hard it must be to learn English... and English with no swear words!


He's ok. Get him when he's crying so hard that he won't sleep. But if he's just fussing, give him a comfort object like a teddy and tell him that teddy is tired and that m.small has to hug teddy and get teddy to sleep.


And in general... you do what you have to do for your baby. It may be different from what I do for my baby, but what is right for you? is right for you.

By Anonymous CUjill, at September 23, 2005 at 9:25 PM  

I enjoyed your post so much, because when I'm on the floor sleeping with little D, I have those exact same thoughts. About once a week he decides to scream from 10-11pm and will only calm down with me laying on the floor with him. (This is a compromise so I can fall asleep--sort of--instead of sitting in the rocking chair). We play the Innocence Mission lullabies and when What a Wonderful World comes on (goofy, I know) I think about how much I love having him fall asleep by me and how quickly he's growing up. It makes the screaming part bearable.

By Anonymous Anonymous, at September 27, 2005 at 6:29 AM  

Oh, the things we parents do for our babies!

I feel your pain, M.Giant. Lucas went through the same thing, and we finally had to bite the bullet and get him into a bedtime "routine". It's easier than it sounds. We basically made a big show of getting his jammies on, getting his Elmo doll ready, brushing his teeth (tooth?), reading a book, and bringing him upstairs with his bottle, to his dimly lit room. We'd then give him the bottle, and when he was done, roll him over to burp him, etc., all the while saying "night night time (or whatever phrase you'd choose to use). Then, when he'd be nice and sleepy, we'd put him down in the crib on his belly, and rub his back, saying the same phrase.

This took about two weeks, if that. He's now at the point where he's pretty much still awake when we put him down, but we still do the back-rubby and night-night-time things. Good luck, I know you and Trash have it in you!

But isn't it the best feeling having a snuggly baby nap on you? Lucas pretty much naps in his crib with no problems, but every now and then I like to have him nap on me. So relaxing!

-Kat from Jersey

By Anonymous Anonymous, at September 30, 2005 at 11:31 AM  

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