Infant sleep. That dubious measure of parental success.
Here then, the sleeping adventures of my terrible-sleeper-son-who-is-now-kind-of-improving-but-I’m-sure-as-soon-as-I-say-it-out-loud-I-will-jinx-it.
Until two weeks ago, these were the sleep habits of my darling son:
6:00 pm: Baby deep in the throes of the witching hour(s). Must hold baby. Do not put baby down. Unless it’s on his changing table, on which he is oddly happy and cooing. But only briefly. Whatever you do, do not try to change baby’s clothes. Taking his arms in and out of shirt/onesie/pajamas and/or swaddle = batshit crazy screaming baby.
6:05 pm: Even though you know better, change baby’s clothes. Baby cries in a manner that can only be described as “I-hope-the-neighbors-have-earplugs/aren’t-calling-child-protective-services.”
6:07 pm: Attempt to institute “consistent bedtime routine.” Read “Brown Bear” in soothing, bedtime voice. Baby confused, also, baby angry.
6:09 pm: Baby is still crying. Swaddle baby. Reassure baby that he does like the swaddle, even if he doesn’t remember. Realize that you cannot reason with baby.
6:10 pm: Lights off, white noise on, nurse baby.
7:00 pm: Baby asleep, falls off boob. Very carefully and quietly attempt to move baby into crib/co-sleeper/swing/rock n’ play or whatever baby vessel you are hoping MIGHT JUST WORK PLEASE DEAR GOD WE ARE DESPERATE. Curse husband for making so much noise in the kitchen. DOESN’T HE KNOW WE HAVE A BABY?!
7:02 pm: Baby wide awake and wondering where the F he is/why not in your arms/why not on the boob/WHAT ON EARTH IS HAPPENING HERE. You remember that you are a bad mother for not putting baby down “drowsy but awake.”
7:03 pm: Pick up baby. Baby instantly falls asleep in your arms. Second transfer attempt a success. You curse “drowsy but awake.”
7:06 pm - 9:00 pm: Eat dinner as fast as you can while tensely looking at the monitor, wondering when the hammer will drop. Do dishes in lightning fast frenzy certain that baby will wake imminently.
9:01 pm: Get in bed knowing that as soon as you discontinue your insane hypervigilance of the baby monitor, baby will begin crying.
9:04 pm: Baby is awake. Muster inner strength for long night ahead.
9:05 pm - 6:00 am: Baby wakes every 1-2 hours all night long. You and husband “alternate” but somehow he ends up sleeping for 6 straight hours. You’re tired and bad at math so you can’t quite figure out how this happens but you resent him anyway. In the morning husband feels proud that he gave the baby a bottle at 4 am. Husband appears well rested and declares the baby a “good sleeper!” and reminds you to “stay positive!” You refrain from hitting husband. You are exhausted and you’ve watched so many episodes of Sister Wives during the middle of the night that you’ve become convinced of the benefits of polygamy and shared motherhood. You begin to question your sanity.
Then, two weeks ago, this started happening:
5:57 pm: Baby beginning to melt down/stare blankly at ceiling fan. Begin bedtime routine. Turn down lights and speak in soft voice. Husband comes home from work and starts trying to “play” with baby by squealing and yelling at him. You become wife who is admonishing husband not to “rile baby up” before bedtime. You feel like you’re 45 years old/in a sitcom.
6:00 pm: Even though you know better, you change baby’s clothes. Baby cries in a manner that can only be described as “I-hope-the-neighbors-have-earplugs/aren’t-calling-child-protective-services.”
6:05 pm: “Read” Brown Bear from memory as baby is completely mesmerized by both the brown bear and the blue duck. But by the time you are asking what the teacher sees, baby is over it. Resolve to try different book tomorrow.
6:06 pm: Give baby “massage” with coconut oil because you read on some hippy parenting blog that this is good for baby. “Massage” is basically just you rubbing baby’s sausage legs while he looks at his fist quizzically.
6:08 pm: Swaddle baby. Reassure baby that he does like the swaddle, even if he doesn’t remember. Remind yourself that you cannot reason with baby.
6:09 pm: Sing made up song that you (falsely?) believe “cues” baby for sleep. Baby gives you look that says, “Moooooom, please stop singing.” You note the harbinger of future teen angst to come.
6:10 pm: Nurse baby to sleep because even though you’re not supposed to, you kind of don’t care because, duh, baby falls asleep on the boob.
6:53 pm: Baby is asleep! You congratulate yourself on a job well done meanwhile cursing husband for making so much noise in the kitchen. Unless he’s cooking you dinner. In which case, carry on.
6:54 pm: Put baby down - jostling him slightly because, DROWSY BUT AWAKE FTW - in rock n’ play and momentarily wonder whether he should really be sleeping in the rock n’ play because he will probably die/never learn to sleep flat on his back/sleep in the rock n’ play until he’s 18. Rock baby for several minutes as name implies.
6:58 pm: Worries of imminent infant death behind you, quietly exit room.
6:59 pm: Breathe sigh of relief.
9:45 pm - 1:50 am: Sleep. Glorious, glorious, uninterrupted sleep.
1:51 am: You are wide awake and wondering why baby is still sleeping. You wake husband to inquire whether he thinks baby has stopped breathing as there is obviously no other explanation for baby’s improved sleep patterns. Husband appears confused and disoriented and wonders why you must ruin a good thing. Husband suggests that you check on baby IF YOU MUST.
1:53 am: You wake baby up check on baby by gently rubbing his cheek to see if he responds.
1:54 am: Baby is awake and you are oddly happy to nurse him.
2:36 am: Baby asleep.
6:46 am: Unsure what exactly is happening, you are awake and nervously watching baby monitor. Baby appears alive but sleeping.
7:02 am: Casually walk into baby’s room where baby is awake and smiling to himself. You are sure baby must be on drugs because SERIOUSLY WHAT IS THIS, WHERE IS MY SON?
7:03 am: Disbelief at how the previous night has unfolded/maintaining very low expectations of such a thing ever happening again.