The naptime fight

My son hates to sleep.

I guess most babies do — perhaps because they’re afraid of missing something, an infant-sized dose of FOMO that compels them to scream their heads off when you even venture near the crib.

Where Oliver would once drift off in his rock ‘n’ play without much of a fight, our almost 10-month-old (I’m sorry, did I just type 10-month-old?) now loses his noggin if he even gets a whiff of you wanting to put him down for a snooze.

The problem? He’s exhausted, of course. And when he gets exhausted, he gets mad. Our easygoing, never-met-a-stranger child becomes a possessed possum when he’s sleepy: clawing his way back to consciousness, refusing to give up the ghost.

I have no idea what his kind day care provider does, honestly. She never reports a problem. But I’m kind of afraid to ask.

There is no foolproof solution to this. He once wanted his bottle before drifting off, but eventually gave that up. He doesn’t take a pacifier anymore. Spencer and I just do the best we can, soothing him into his midday snoozes with a story or well-timed car ride. He goes to bed just fine at night, thank God, but those naps are a fight that takes all the energy we’ve got. And some we don’t.

That’s most of parenting, I’m finding: everything you have until you are empty, depleted. It requires you to become an excavator, digging around for something — anything — to give again.

But then they smile at you, reaching out a chubby hand or thoughtfully tugging a lock of your hair.

It is hard. It is so worth it . . . but it is hard.


sleeping


Yesterday morning, I sat by his crib as he rubbed, rubbed, rubbed his eyes and screamed, a red-faced and angry shriek that cut straight to the bone. It took everything I had not to reach in and scoop him up, whispering anything I thought would comfort him, but I knew the war would only wage again five minutes later.

I reached for a book, perching in the rocking chair just out of sight — close enough to hear every breath, grit my teeth through every cry, but not where Oliver would see me.

Maybe he sensed me there, trying to relax while my child kicked and howled. Maybe, in a strange way, it was comforting.

But he finally relented, falling fitfully into baby sleep. His face eased. The tears — thick rivers down his cheeks — quickly dried. I moved delicately toward him, pulling a bunched-up blanket away from his face, and crept downstairs to finally eat the cold English muffin I’d toasted an hour before.

And then the doorbell rang: solicitors. With pamphlets.

And I guess that’s just parenthood, too.


Sleepless in Maryland

Sunrise

If you’re looking for me, I’m probably watching the sun come up.

At this point in his young life, I know we can’t expect our newborn to sleep through the night . . . or even for a few solid hours. Especially my 10-week-old preemie, who is actually two weeks old when adjusted for his early arrival.

But is the idea of five hours of unbroken sleep a beautiful fantasy?

Absolutely.

Oliver’s schedule can be somewhat flexible, now that he’s getting bigger, but he generally eats every three hours. Spencer and I took turns with the feedings at midnight, 3 a.m. and 6 a.m. when I was home, but I’m strictly on the 3 a.m. shift on our work days.

Sometimes Ollie falls back asleep after that feeding . . . and sometimes he doesn’t.

Sometimes I fall back asleep after that feeding . . . but often? I don’t.

I think it’s a combination of middle-of-the-night overthinking and listening to every whine, gurgle and hiccup our infant is making. Oliver sleeps in a bassinet in the corner of our room, recently moved from right beside the bed. When he first came home, I was up constantly to check his breathing — like every anxious parent — and have since released some of those nerves, but am still on alert for anything that seems amiss.

I’m okay if I fall asleep before Spencer and Ollie. In a quiet, dark room, it doesn’t take long for exhaustion to pull me under. But when I’m roused by his cries for the 3 a.m. feeding and get up for the half hour or more it takes him to finish his milk, I’m finding it harder and harder to go back to bed myself.

How can I be so tired . . . yet unable to rest? It’s torturous. After Ollie finished his bottle around 4 a.m., I should have collapsed immediately. But even with my little guy actually settling himself down, I was staring at the ceiling feeling the minutes tick by.

I’ve quickly realized I can’t do the math. Initially, I became obsessed with the mathematics of sleep: as in, “Well, if I go to bed right now and Ollie sleeps for a few hours, I’ll get three hours now and maybe an hour later, possibly two . . .”

And when that didn’t happen, I would calculate how much I actually got while waiting for the Keurig to spring to life. And the answer was just really depressing.

Spencer is so wonderful, and we really take turns with these nighttime misadventures. Parenting is a shared contact sport at our house. But at the end of the day, if it comes down to Spence or me, I try to let him sneak in some extra shut-eye. I know he’s just as worn out as I am . . . and has to go to work even earlier.

So at 5 a.m. this morning, rather than spend another few restless hours in bed before I had to get up, I decided to try and make the most of that time.

Oliver was fast asleep, of course. Because why wouldn’t he be — then? So I dragged my laptop upstairs with a fresh cup of coffee and settled in.

I wrote this blog post. Answered emails. Placed a Thirty-One order before the party closed. Uploaded some photos, replied to Facebook messages, perused some books on Goodreads.

And away from the digital world? Well, I eventually squeezed another few ounces of milk into Oliver’s reluctant, fussy tummy. Got myself showered, dressed and makeup-ed. Packed my lunch and his bottles. And then, my crowning achievement: I got dinner — this tomato basil chicken stew — in the Crock Pot.

It feels like I’ve lived a full day before I even left for the office.

Better than tossing and turning for hours? Definitely.

But let’s hope for a better night tonight.

Even coffee fanatics have their limits.


Rudy takes himself a ‘dirt nap’

Enjoying my new weekend freedom, I tackled a project this afternoon I’ve been putting off forever: burning my digital photos to CDs. I take a ton of pictures, uploading all of them to our somewhat-ancient PC. This is definitely a recipe for disaster. So I started transferring everything I have off here, including last year’s photos and many from the spring and summer.

I came across these two of my dog, and this one is probably my favorite:

But I love the next one too! My dad was laying sod in the back yard in the early summer, so he had dirt delivered and tilled what was already there.

And Rudy decided to take himself a dirt nap — literally:

Hilarious! And needless to say, we had to get him cleaned up after that . . . but it was worth it for Dad to get this shot!