Last week, I made a post on facebook that said “I have now become one of those parents who brags about their child’s sleeping habits. Sorry.” What I should have said was “No, Karma. I don’t need to sleep these next three nights.”
To clarify, Mabel is a master at sleeping. Once asleep, she usually stays asleep for at least 10 hours unless we’re stupid enough to wake her up. The key phrase here of course being “Once asleep.” To the uninitiated, this is the equivalent of saying “Once I’ve trained the cat to pee in the toilet, I can usually teach them to flush it.”
Babies are a lot like people. Tiny, stupid people. They get cranky when they’re tired, hungry or otherwise uncomfortable. Where adults separate themselves from babies is their ability to diagnose their ailment and find the cure. Before you call CPS, I know babies can’t feed themselves. They sadly need our help. But going to sleep is something – possibly the only thing – that babies are born with the ability to do. They just haven’t yet figured out that sleep is the antidote to tired.
Jennifer and I are starting to learn how to diagnose Mabel’s sleepiness. The eye and nose-rubbing is an obvious hint. But it can still take up to a couple hours to get her to figure out what to do about it. I find myself playing guitar and singing to serenade her to sleep, but my set is only really about 20 minutes before I start repeating the same five songs. Thankfully, my biggest fan doesn’t really mind how many times I play Say Goodbye to Hollywood in a row. Everything I do is her favorite song. Which is great for my ego, but horrible for my callouses and my sleeping schedule. After repeating everything twice, I’ll read a Dr. Suess book to her. I’ll sing a capella. I’ll start to read her some David Sedaris because how the hell will she know the difference? I’ll cry and plead with her and try to reason with a four-month old to no avail.
But I’m now starting to figure out that Mabel has a bedtime in mind, regardless of how tired she is. And if it’s not that time yet, she’s just not going to sleep. This past Friday night, I thought we were able to get her to sleep earlier than normal at 10pm. Apparently that was only her nap and she was up 45 minutes later. Turns out she decided 1am was her bedtime that night.
Also, we haven’t been able to get her out of the swing yet. I’ve gotten mixed messages about that. The doctor and books say that she should be able to sleep without the swing or needing to feed by now. Actual parents of actual children have said the hell with the doctor and stupid books. If she’s sleeping for ten straight hours, count your blessings and don’t change anything. And certainly don’t complain about it to actual parents. If she sleeps better in the swing, put her in the swing. If she needs to nurse, let her nurse. If she sleeps better on your face, buy a snorkel mask and trade shifts with your wife.
All in all, I know how lucky I am to have a child who sleeps through the night, however long it takes and however it happens. So I’m not complaining. In fact, her 1am bedtime and 10 hours straight of sleep is pretty much on par with her father’s biorhythms anyway. Maybe they’re bad habits we’re allowing her to get into, but they’re genetic bad habits so we really had no chance anyway.