The intellectual equivalent of a ham sandwich.

Posts tagged ‘sleep’

Month Six, Or How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Embrace the Short Nap

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.

/End reflection!

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.

    IMG_20180318_103149350

    The spinny-thing has some sort of bug type creature on it.

  • 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.

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The Carousel of New Parenthood

I’m casting side glances toward my son in his swing, full of fear and dare I say hope? No. Because I have no hope. The theme, dear future self, of month 5 (by which I mean starting at 4 and ending when he turned 5 months) … is sleep.

Sleep. What do you talk about when both parents are awake at 3:23 am? Sleep. You talk about his sleep. You ask, ‘when did you last feed him?’ And the mrs. responds, ‘like 10 minutes ago …’ then you sigh and get up to dance the kiddo back to sleep and she says, ‘wait! No! I haven’t fed him since midnight.’ Then if you weren’t so sleep you’d smile, but instead you just plop back into bed and thank the good Lord for the fact that only women have a milk supply.

(And now he is glancing at me. I just looked up and I saw his little eyes staring right at me. Oh dear.)

It has been a huge month in terms of sleep development for us. Here’s the rundown, as far as I remember.

***

We hadn’t been anxious to do any ‘sleep training’ because his poor stomach had been a nightmare. But with that a little more under control we decided to start making progress on the sleep front.

First up, we started putting him down for naps in his swing. Prior to this his naps were on one of us. Cozy? You bet. Productivity inhibiting? Most certainly. Helpful for his ability to sleep without a warm body and a heartbeat to listen to? Perhaps not. This effort started on a weekend and at first resulted in quick wake ups. He’d be put gently, oh so so gently, into the swing and I’d sit down glance at my wife and smile and then a look of terror would cross her eyes followed quickly by a smile. The kiddos eyes were open, and he was grinning at seeing dear mama.

But in a short order, before the end of the weekend, he took a nap in the swing for over an hour. OVER AN HOUR! Do you know how long it had been since both my wife and I had been able to just be still at the same time? It was glorious.

From there we took an adventurous next step – naps in his own room! Well, friends, it felt like freedom (after it took hold). Such freedom.

But then it stopped. The progress vanished like that. My wife began holding him for naps again but no, that won’t do either. If you wanted him to nap for more than thirty minutes you needed to do more than just hold him – you also need to walk around bouncing gently. I have done this a few times (yesterday I danced gently for 2 hours while holding him in the bjorne). Great nap, painful shoulders. My wife found a blog post from a woman who experienced the same thing. We had so many things in common it was great to read – especially since she mentioned the nap woes were temporary.

Our son, and the fellow bloggers kiddo, were going through a big development jump. Suddenly way more chatty and tons of extra movement. This blogger talked about how the kiddo was so invested in being awake because there is so much to experience! Well, how can we fault our smily, quick to be fussy, overly tired, chatty, kick-punch champ baby for wanting to be awake when his parents are just so fun?

There really is comfort in seeing others having gone through the same pain, talked about it, and mentioned that it ended.

***

At night he was still inclined to need a lot of effort to get a nap in, but his bedtime routine was great … mom would feed him, I’d walk around holding him while humming and he’d pass out after some period of ‘hey dad! Let’s hang out! Hey dad? Hey dad! Hey dad! … Dad. Dad? … zzzzzz’

(Another live update – after ten minutes of intense, creepy staring he knocked back out for fifteen minutes. And then I heard a little noise and sure enough, we have eyes. I’m now intently staring at my computer. Meanwhile my wife is texting me from the basement wondering when the coast is clear for her to use the bathroom. The tiny tyrant rules all.)

Fast forward to about a week ago and my wife wants us to take a next step in the nighttime sleep department. It’s wise, and the right thing to do, but I don’t want to rock the boat. But what is parenthood (in my limited experience) if not a series of never-ending opportunities to feel comfortable for a moment only to realize this is exactly when things are needing to change?

The plan was to put the boy in bed at night … while he was still awake! Revolutionary! This is a modification of a plan we read about online where you would put the kiddo down drowsy but awake, he/she would begin to cry, you wait a minute, pick the kiddo up, put them down as soon as they stop crying. My wife was all for this. I responded, “he’s a BABY! Let’s do BABY STEPS!” (This made her wonder if she is going to be the one to punish the kiddo because I’m a softie. I think we will both have our areas.)

I had been cheating (unknowingly) and laying him down asleep. In my mind, ‘very drowsy’ is what he was after being asleep for a few minutes. Honest! This is how it would go in my mind – he falls asleep, you put him down, the movement wakes him up, he glances around, thinks ‘eh I’ll cry later’ and then boom he’s out. We did our first actual putting him down awake last night and it took a while, but after many pick-up put-downs he finally honked out for real. We celebrated by eating ice cream in bed. It was glorious.

***

Oh yeah and other stuff happened this month, too. He is grabbing stuff much better with his hands (reaching out to grab things). He is finally getting a better head of hair (not yet at birth level but close). He GIGGLED! MY GOD. How could I have forgotten that? Ok, sure, no one else would recognize this as a giggle … it’s a whisper of a giggle. Instead of a big grin you get a big grin and a … gurgle? Some happy guttural noise? How do you describe it? Anyway, it is my new motivating factor in life. One day he made this noise while sitting on my belly when I sat up making funny noises. This meant I ended up doing sit-ups for giggles. How weird is that?

140910083846_1_900x600Speaking of sit-ups – the child is making me fitter, I think. He’s the only workout I get, and my arms have benefited from his maybe 15 pound body.

Another fan favorite is ‘tree sloth’ mode. I have my arm under his belly, his legs on either side, his arms randomly pulling at my wrist, and he gnaws on my finger like a champ. It is essentially the world’s most adorable curl. I like to pretend that I am diseased and he is just some form of flesh eating bacteria that is growing on me. (My wife is perpetually delighted by my charm.)

***

As my wife said recently, ‘the pool of love is deep and intense.’ It has been a month of struggles and triumphs (as every month has been). Thus the title – parenthood truly is a carousel ride of ups and downs, and often, somehow, a smile throughout the ups and downs.

Ok well this blog post is so long no one except me will ever read it.

(And for completeness. He has been asleep for an hour! Thank the fickle God of Naps and Greying of the Hairs. Is this the sign of him re-embracing naps, or a random gift to toy with my heart? Time will tell.)

Noon Year’s Eve Party

Dear fellow new parents and otherwise sleepy individuals,

How are you? Are you excited about New Year’s Eve? Kind of an ‘eh’? Hey, me too! And guess what, I’ve got a party for you!

That’s right, it’s Noon Year’s Eve! We’ll have brunch (eggs, bacon, another helping of bacon, biscuits, hash browns, and tortillas in case a fork isn’t your thing and you want to eat your food in an edible carrying case) and then count down to 12!

Twelve noon.

When noon hits, we’ll continue to sip coffee and talk and sit around. It’s only noon, you seriously already need to go to bed? We’re a judgement free zone, so, sure, go ahead. There’s a bunch of blankets in the corner, we call it ‘blanket corner.’ Head over there and knock out. It’s fine. But I hope you can sleep over the uproarious sound of forks on plates (cinnamon roles for dessert, anyone?) and spoons stirring their coffee.

Join us, sleepyheads, and we’ll rock in Noon Year’s Eve, because midnight is too damn late.

Top 5 Signs to Tell If You Didn’t Get Enough Sleep Last Night

Top 5 Signs to Tell If You Didn’t Get Enough Sleep Last Night
Or
Are You a Grumpy Pants? Hmmm?

1. Local news anchors lack of budget/skill/professionalism/general ‘local news anchor’-ish behavior is not funny and endearing but annoying to the point that you turn off the TV.

2. On the drive into work overly aggressive drivers are not given the benefit of the doubt and assigned a reason like being late to something important, but are just plain jackasses who are … they’re freaking kidding me right? They really just cut that dude off twice? And for what, to hurry up and get to that red light? Moron.

3. The thought of having a genuine runny-nose, high fever, weak feeling, sore throat COLD is more appealing because it means you don’t have to leave your home.

4. Part two of the title annoyed you.

5. Having social plans for after work that night makes you angry the first half of the day.

The Delegates Assemble

Brain: I’ve called this emergency meeting of the department heads today because lately the body hasn’t been getting enough sleep. I’ve formed what I think is a pretty good plan for how to deal with this … Staggered start times. You see, we will introduce the body’s full potential slowly as the day goes on. That way we don’t use so much energy trying to get everything going for no reason.

Hand: I see what you’re saying but … what can you cut? You need us for cereal!

Brain: Yes, hands, feet, legs … You guys are important. Priorities one and two are peeing and cereal and those must be handled quickly.

Eye: You usually turn on the news so you’ll need us and the ears.

Ear: Yep.

Brain: Uh, correction, the LOCAL news. Ears and eyes needed at about 20% for the sake of everyone. You guys will ramp up slowly and be good to go by commute time.

Heart: So … you’re calling for this change in procedure?

Brain: Yeah … so …

Heart: It’s just … Last night everyone agreed they were tired … Eyes, legs, feet, back, just … everyone, even YOU … And yet …

Brain: Look I’m the first to admit, last night was a mistake. I didn’t need to watch an hour of bloopers from shows I’ve never even watched at a time when I should have been asleep.

Heart: LAST NIGHT? You make it seem like that’s not the way it normally is? I think it’s time we vote for new leadership, and I put my name in the mix. I’m the HEART. This show wouldn’t run without me. And what’s more, I’m pretty dang consistent unlike the brain who sometimes chooses to sleep in the middle of the day but wake up at bedtime.

Brain: The brain wants what it wants! And listen, new leadership is –

Foot: I also want to throw my name into the mix for the new leader.

(Heart and Brain laugh.)

Brain: What … How are YOU important?

Foot: …I represent a very important delegation for dancing!

Hip: Not more important than us!

(Everybody laughs.)

Brain: Thanks for the laugh, hips, that was needed. This was getting tense.

Hip: No really. We are important. You can’t ignore us forever!

Brain: Shhh, shhh, shh. Quiet down. You can raise any concerns at the quarterly meeting.

Hip: …You’ll regret ignoring me someday.

Heart: I don’t see why I shouldn’t be leader, really.

Brain: Heart, you operate at 100% necessary functionality always. Everybody knows I’m willing to sacrifice myself for the good of the body, sometimes forcing myself to ramp up from 10% functionality to 100% functionality over the course of HOURS.

Hand: …Lazy.

Brain: What was that?

Hand: Nothing.

(Suddenly a man on horseback rides in.)

Brain: Who are you?

Mysterious horseback man: My name is Charley, and this is my horse. I’m taking over this place.

Tomorrow Brad

Lately I have been trying to be a better friend to myself, aka Tomorrow Brad. You see, my absolute favorite person is Right Now Brad (RNB), and sometimes I have acted just for RNB.

“I feel like if I slow down for a second I will realize I’m already stuffed … Better eat faster!!”
-RNB

RNB can be a real jerk to Tomorrow Brad, as you can see from the above quote. And don’t even get me started on RNB’s sleeping habits.

“Oh man it’s midnight? Well I’m already gonna be tired tomorrow so I may as well watch one more episode …”
– Classic RNB

Here’s my revolutionary idea: acting on behalf of Tomorrow Brad more and more. I feel like this is the part about being an adult that no one warned me about.

When I was younger Tomorrow Brad and Right Now Brad saw eye to eye on a lot of things. Right Now Brad might say, “I should get Taco Bell!” and so I would. Then Tomorrow Brad would say, “Later we should eat half a pumpkin pie! While you’re out for Taco Bell pick up some more whipped cream!” The two would high five and all was merry.

Now Tomorrow Brad acts almost immediately in reaction to Right Now Brad. “Oh man,” Tomorrow Brad says 10 minutes after finishing Taco Bell, “that was such a bad idea …”

Maybe getting older isn’t about maturing or becoming more intelligent, but instead feeling the repercussions of bad ideas with force and surprising speed. Running miles on end, then eating fast food for dinner and staying up late to play video games was a dream Saturday only a few years ago … Today, it is a recipe for sadness.

Let’s hear it for our future selves, the most demanding friend you have.

Soooophisticated!

Airplanes, her brother and I went and saw the symphony at the Sydney Opera House. It was great. They performed Beethoven’s 9th, which was a joy. An … ode … to joy.

Anywho.

Before the symphony we decided to go to the Opera Bar to eat a little bit. I decided to have a drink. Airplanes also decided to get a drink. I was going to get a beer, Airplanes was going to get a glass of the Opera Bar Shiraz. Then, inspiration struck. Why not just split a bottle of this Opera Bar wine!? Brilliant!

The key to going from being sophisticated to soooooo-phisticated is having half a bottle of wine. Yes, indeed.

With some wine in me, and noticing a fellow opera frequenter (I’ve never actually seen an opera) who was sporting the sweater tied around his shoulders, I decided a photo op would be nice!

Sydney Australia

Splendid, I say, what what! Am I right?

Notice that behind me, to the right, is a person also holding a glass of some booze. Turns out she was a fellow jokester, and wanted in on the action. She jumped up and gave me rabbit ears, to try and ruin the picture. I had a pretty good laugh at that, so then we staged a sophisticated photo, together.

Sydney Australia

Check out the fella to our right, deliberately not looking at us. This guy was the angry boyfriend. Whoops! Apparently his girlfriend was having a much better day than he was …

***

After the lovely symphony ended, Airplanes, her bro, and I headed outside for some more pictures of the Opera House. How could we not? My motto for this trip was that there’s a good chance I’ll never be back to Australia (do you know how far away that place is!! and how many other places in the world there are to see!!), so I had better take 4 billion pictures.

Thankfully, Airplanes’ brother noticed a great photo opportunity. A woman, with her family, was passed out cold. Happily residing in sleepy town.

Maybe she had decided to take on a full bottle of wine by herself before the symphony. I’m not sure. Anyhow, I jumped at the opportunity and took a spot beside her. (Why? Because I am sooooophisticated!)

Sydney Australia nap

It would’ve been better without the program over my face, but I couldn’t help but laugh.

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