A few months back. I wrote about my approach to get the baby to sleep. It was a fairly simple process back then. Here’s the update:
Naps are crapshoots. Yawns and eye rubs don’t mean easy zzz’s. And neither do screaming squirms in Dad’s arms mean sleep won’t be just around the corner a few minutes later. What has changed since infancy? More awareness means more resistance. Eyes that want to wander. Arms that wriggle and legs that wiggle. And, apparently not a swaddle or sleep sack on the market that will keep a good boy down.
So we have to babysit. Naps aren’t breaks; they’re parent patrol. Catch a fuss early and a nap might continue. Let it linger a second too long and he’s up for good.
A lot of times when we try to make him nap he falls asleep in our arms immediately. But it’s not always real sleep. Sometimes he’s just waiting us out. Playing dead. Because the second we put him down on a flat surface, the eyes go wide and the noises begin. Grunts and cries, yes, but also coos and giggles and squeaks to play to our softie side.
Nights are tests of endurance and patience. He may go down right away and wake up 5 minutes later. He may need 30 minutes of rocking before he’ll stay asleep in his crib. And then, after all that arm-numbing work, a twitch of the leg may wake him. Or else his farts or his arms or the shadows on the wall or the musings of the angels above. Shush is a sweet sound or a dirty word, depending on when it is deployed. Pats on the belly can help soothe or stir him up more. Snooze button at best. Ticking time bomb at worst. This sleep thing…it’s all dart throwing at a moving target with one hand-tied and eyes blindfolded. It’s maddening.
The boy who wants to put the pacifier in his own mouth (no help), who seems anxious to explore the world on his own terms and is content, most times, in his own thoughts…that boy does not seem to want to battle sleep alone. He needs reinforcement. Sometimes of a type we can’t provide. Nursing no longer knocks him out like it used to. It’s like he’s getting half-milk, half-No Dose. And sometimes at 3 a.m. he acts like Kanye gone clubbing. YOLO, right? Why sleep when you’re a DJ (Declan James) and you’re made to kick it?
So hours pass. A 9 a.m. nap can run ’till noon. Not with sleep, mind you, but with the effort that sleep entails. A 3 a.m. wake-up can stretch on until 5.
And when adult bedtime rolls around, we wonder where the day went. And then we reach the sad realization that, in our house, all life forms except the dog spent large portions of time trying, in vain, not to be awake.