Saturday, September 13, 2008

cranky babies need love, too

thought i'd start this one off with some pictures from the week:

bebe got not one, but two deliveries of the softest, cutest jammies from her mems. here she is modeling one pair while clearly demonstrating that she is, in fact, taller than the line of spit-up she shot over mommy's shoulder and onto the couch.

representing JP! she looks good in black :)

totally kabloozed.

hanging out at her new favorite place- the doctor's office.

playing with some frogs her grampa steve sent her, and sporting her new froggy diaper cover.

it's the last weekend of my vacation, and while i'm sad to see my hedonistic lifestyle fall by the wayside to make way for more episodes of 'eight the hard way,' i feel pretty ok about the time i had. i managed to spend a ton of time with beatrix and her mommy, relax, do some things i wanted to do on my own, and not think about work in any capacity. one thing i won't miss though, is the early mornings with cranky baby.

while on my vacation, we adopted a policy of alternating days to get up with bebe. one parent sleeps in while the other starts their day anywhere from between four-thirty to six-thirty am. it's admittedly more fair than the regular schedule of having the boobs, i mean mommy, wake up all night for feedings and get up with bebe in the morning so that daddy can make it to work in a semi-vegetable state, as opposed to entirely being a potato.

but daddy still has to be at his job all day, so there may be a trade-off in there after all. i'm not saying i would make the argument, only because quantifying the time and effort each parent puts forth for the baby is a slippery slope. with one of those giant meat-grinder things at the bottom. the kind that turn entire human beings into hamburger (or hotdogs, actually, but you get my point). and this is something we've been able to avoid thus far, and it may be the thing i'm most proud of. when one person needs a break, they know that freedom is just five words away: 'will you take her, please?' i've yet to refuse or be refused, and knowing that system is in place is a huge thing to fall back on. we don't argue about whose turn it is, who had her last, who's been holding her longer on a particular day. we're more likely to fight each other for a chance to hold her than we are to complain over having to hold her for too much of the time. and if you don't screw around and you're not curing cancer, there's plenty of time to do what you want in a day and still have time to hold your screaming child while your partner locks themselves in the bathroom and cries.

so we've been taking turns getting up with the beebs, but as my wife pointed out, the problem with this system is that the person who sleeps in is freshest that day, and presumably less tired that night, the night they need to go to bed earlier since they will be the one waking up with the baby the next morning. and when it's not your morning to get up, you should be staying up the night before to party. or, at our house, have that extra beer, play video games, read, clean, or write this blog entry, for instance. instead, you've been up since five and all you want to do is shut your eyes for the night at nine-thirty. especially since the mornings you're up early you can usually get the baby to play on the floor or take a snooze while you pick up the house, do some dishes or laundry, etc. so you're basically up early and going, going, going. this means, at least for me, that by four pm, you're gone.

this leads to an unfortunate occurrence i, and others, refer to as a 'nap.' i hate taking naps. i just can't do it. it totally screws up my body and leaves me feeling like a train wreck. it's also disorienting and leaves me feeling thick-headed and confused for at least the first two hours i'm awake. and there are other potential risks to napping as well. like today for instance: i fell asleep on the couch watching 'lock, stock, and two smoking barrels' and woke up watching 'speed 2: cruise control.' if you've never seen these movies, or maybe only seen one, let me assure you they are very... different from one another. the above experience is the visual equivalent of being four years old, falling asleep in the coat pile at the party, and waking up in the trunk of a car, maybe not even your own. it's distressing.

i would rather drag myself around all day and be in bed by eight than take a nap somewhere along the way and be basically useless until bed time. and if i have to take a nap, i usually don't want to be up again, so ironically i end up in bed early anyway. which sort of defeats the purpose of the nap, if said purpose is to replenish sleep so as to remain awake at a later point. the true irony is that i write this at a time when we are basically begging bebe to take more naps, and she is forcing us to take ours.

when we were at her doctor's office this week, lb asked how much sleep she should be getting (this is the question most parents ask when their child is simply not sleeping). the wife and i had a good, long laugh later on when one of us recalled his answer. a baby of her age should be sleeping anywhere from sixteen to twenty hours a day. are you f*@king kidding me? that's how much time this kid spends awake! she fights with herself to stay awake! why, god, why?

and just when you start to wonder what the hell you're doing wrong, along comes a book to spell it all out for you. thank you, Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Child (with a foreword by cindy crawford- hubba hubba!). within the pages of this magic book are all the answers one needs to forcing one's child off to never never land (and no pictures of cindy crawford). goodbye waking, interactive moments, hello cousin of death (or brother of death, depending upon which cultures you derive your non-christian deities from).

the foundation which marc weissbluth, md builds upon is the premise that if a baby is taught to develop solid sleep habits, then the parents get to sleep too. everyone wins and the family that sleeps together... stays together? you know what i mean. there's nothing worse than being tired. add a screaming baby into the mix and disaster is one dropped binky away.

hi beebs, can i talk to you for a sec? your mother and i need you to sleep more.

don't give me that look! growing babies need their rest.

when you really think about it, we'll all benefit.

you'll feel better and be less cranky. it's no fun being overtired.

and if you're getting rest, then so are mommy and daddy.

'i'm not so sure about this daddy. are you saying that sleeping more will make my awake time happier?'

'what am i gonna miss while i'm asleep? tape lost for me!'

so after reading some of this book (ok, my wife does the reading), we realized that had we been paying closer attention to our baby's sleep cues, we could have saved her the trauma of being overtired, had more time to ourselves, and basically could have avoided what has easily been the worst week with baby so far, coincidentally my second and last week of vacation. shit. live and learn, my friends. live and learn.

we had already been experimenting with nap times where we put her down half awake and let her fall asleep in the crib. that was actually working some of the time, and it came from the book, so i was ready to follow some other tips. i didn't shy away from the 'paper bag' method- place a snug-fitting paper bag over the baby's head as you put them down for a nap. their developing brains need all the carbon dioxide their little lungs can produce. who knew? also, the 'pillow method' whereby you gently but firmly place a pillow over the waking child's face, until they return to sleep. hokey-dokey, doc. if you say so.

just kidding! those aren't in the book, and they're not even good ways of getting your baby to nap. how could i think of such things? welll, you try sleeping for ninety minutes at a time and having your baby scream bloody murder into your face like someone stabbing your eardrum with a pair of scissors. which brings me to my final point for this entry (as if there were other points in there somewhere- writing is delusional and fun) and that is that at no time have i or wifey been upset at beatrix. maybe a little in the beginning, but we quickly realized that we have it pretty easy compared to most folks, and more importantly that it's not her fault she's screaming her head off at three in the morning. she'd rather be sleeping too. i think.

and no matter how tired or crappy that loss of sleep makes you feel, if you love your baby (and we all do, don't we?), all it takes is a gurgle and one half of a faint smile at five am as the rising sun lights the room to make it all worthwhile. and in fact, there's no place i'd rather be.

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