That title is a ruse. I would love it if the kid would take a longer nap. But let’s forego the details for the moment and get a little reflective.
My wife and I were talking about sleep. (remember month 5’s theme? Sleep? Well, that has continued on to month 6.) Our initial strategy with nighttime sleep was to do a modification of put him down awake, pick him up as soon as he cried, comfort him, put him down awake, repeat till he slept. That had started out and we thought ‘ok! We get to hang out after we put him down!’ but it wasn’t really improving. That is, every night it seemed like he really only went to sleep after all his cries were out.
At the recommendation of a friend, we read (the relevant chapters of) the happy sleeper. This book calls for the ‘sleep wave’ which is all about predictability and stability. You have a routine that you follow precisely for naps and nighttime (different routines for the two) and you lay the kiddo down awake. When he or she cries, you go in after five minutes of crying and you say this particular phrase (ours is, “Have a good sleep. I’ll be right outside. I love you.”) then you leave the room without providing physical comfort. The idea is that your child knows you exist, and that by this age (we started this when he was about 5.5 months) they don’t think you have up and ceased to exist when you’re out of sight. The child is left to their own devices for self-soothing. Our son had become a whiz at finding his hand and sucking on it (strangely, his typical fingers are the middle and ring fingers).
The approach worked surprisingly well. But wait, it’s reflective time.
In last month’s blog I mentioned saying that I wanted to baby my son because … he’s a baby. But it struck me, later on, that my mom’s saying over and over that her children will always be her babies could prove true for myself as well. Pain and discomfort are good things – they are really educational. I’m glad I struggled at times in school, I’m glad I had my heart broken, I’m glad I lost at many, many things. And yet, it’s a struggle to knowingly allow my son to feel discomfort or pain. And then I bounce right back, come on, self, he’s just crying a little bit while going to sleep! Anyway, it was a moment of wonder realizing that I will likely forever feel his pain as though it is my own.
My wife and I have a system where, if the kiddo wakes up in the middle of the night and struggles to go back to sleep, one of us tends to him while the other stays in bed. We have a white noise machine in our room for just such an occasion. But occasionally, if the white noise isn’t loud or he has an especially upset cry, you still hear him. And then you lay in bed, not sleeping and not helping anything. It made me think of my mom, wondering if she did this same thing while her children were grown, after, say, one of her kid’s experienced a heartbreak. Somewhere my child is in pain.
Those aren’t particularly deep thoughts – but they were interesting to me. Suddenly I was generation-less, just a person in a line of parents and children, where each person has felt love and heartbreak for others.
Back to the sleep thing. The first night the kiddo protested, of course, but it took hold and he slept 11 hours with only one wakeup to eat. Holy pleasant night of sleep Batman. That was incredible. Before that he was waking up 1-3 times a night, sometimes to eat, other times just … I don’t know. Because why not?
The next night he slept THROUGH THE NIGHT! MY GOD.
But, that day was rough on the kiddo and dear old mom and dad. Up to that point I would walk him around or dance in the Bjorn to get him to sleep. This meant sometimes two hours of constant dancing and moving in the Bjorn. Trust me when I tell you this is really uncomfortable and tiring. BUT! He was a happy kiddo. Tough to get to sleep, yes, but happy. That day he was a not happy kiddo. He began to recognize the sleep routine and he would start crying, and crying.
Our nap routine is simple – change his diaper, put him in a sleep sack, pick him up and sing to him while you/he holds on to his ‘lovie’ (Harry Elefante) and then you put him down. The last nap of the day I was putting him down and he started crying from go. Oof. It was heartbreaking. Putting him down on the changing pad the face immediately turned to a look of devastation and there was no coming back. When it came time to sing to him peacefully to soothe his little soul before putting him down? Forget it. I was crying and singing (quite a sight). I sang all of about 10 seconds because no words were coming.
The nap, not surprisingly, did not go well. It involved a lot of the going in to check every 5 minutes.
But … here’s the bright spot. For the most part the night sleep turned tremendous. Suddenly we were able to wake up feeling somewhat rested. Hurrah!
I’ll be honest … I started writing this about two weeks ago, so now he is about 6.5 months old (so grown up) and already month 6 feels so far away. As is typical of this past half year, it’s hard to remember last week’s woes because this week’s woes are all important. Two of the last three nights he has struggled to fall asleep, and we hadn’t experienced that since we started down this road, pretty much one month ago today. It is disheartening, and a little confusing. But hopefully things will be back on track soon enough.
Also, about the title. That’s a lie. I have not embraced the short nap. It is what he does, and that’s that … But we have done a number of car rides to create a 1 – 1.5 hour nap. A great joy of mine is taking the kiddo out to some shop or area to have strangers ooh and ahh and tell me how cute he is, and then buy some junk food, then cruise and listen to the radio while eating said junk food. Oh yessir.
Random thoughts, you say? Sure.
- Sometimes when I blow my nose in front of my son I feel guilty. Like he is looking at me thinking, ‘oh if only I could do that.’ Imagine sneezing and then just sitting there … not having the ability to blow your nose. Torturous.
- My wife and I have not been posting pictures on Facebook or any social media for a number of reasons. But, like probably every parent, I feel the world is being deprived of cute baby pictures. The other day a coworker stopped by my cube and said, ‘any new pictures?’ then glanced quickly at the ones I have hung up and said, ‘nope’ and walked away. Smart move, dude, because I was about to bust out my phone and put you through a three hour photo sharing session.
- We have a toy with a little wheel-type device with pictures on it. Sometime in this month he began to realize he could spin this. My wife likes to say he is looking through his rolodex. Spin, spin, stop, stare (we comment, ‘oh Bob, haven’t talked to him in ages, hmmm should I call Bob?’), aggressively spin (‘eh, Bob’s a loser’), slowly rotate, stop, stare (‘oh Jean, wonder how -‘), spin (‘FORGET JEAN!’).
Ok, note to self. Do month 7 on THAT day. I swear, last week is already a blur.