I have all sorts of things on my heart and mind that I want to blog about, but at the moment my brain is mush because this week was on the more difficult end of the baby spectrum. So today, a brief update from the trenches of parenthood.
Lesson learned: Never count your naps before they happen.
On Monday I was on the phone with my mom gushing about how sweet and easy Henry is. Because he mostly is. He is pretty chill be nature, and he accepted the Baby Wise schedule concept pretty easily, so that at 12 weeks we have a baby who is fairly predictable, goes down easily and self soothes remarkably well, sleeping 11 hours at night with one quick snack at 4 am, and rarely just cries on end for no reason.
At least, that’s the baby we had on Monday.
Sometime during the night he morphed, and we all woke up on Tuesday to a baby who fights every nap and then only sleeps for 30-40 minutes, which means that we have a crabby baby and a desperate mama by early evening, frantically texting James “ARE YOU ON YOUR WAY HOME YET????” On Friday I finally caved and just hit the sidewalks, pushing him in the stroller, as not even a mighty nap striker can resist the stroller. I grabbed an iced coffee from my favorite neighborhood coffee shop and walked, crying as I listened to this podcast that gave me the encouragement I needed.
It’s tempting to count on naps before they happen, to game out how you will fill the time, what lofty things you will accomplish. But until a nap has happened- you do not have it. You can count on nothing, trust in nothing, believe in nothing. You will experience the full range of emotions during these non-naps. Smug contentment when the baby goes to sleep quickly, followed by calm and joy as you pour that cup of coffee and settle into the quiet house. This will change to anxiety and fear as the minutes pass, every slight sound a potential wail, and you tiptoe back to the room and peak through the crack in the door to assure yourself that the tiny tyrant sleeps. And then they come, the wails, and you jolt back and forth between anger and fear and sadness and panic and this is parenting from the trenches. Finally the resignation sets in, and the nap is over.
I’m not putting this up to ask for advice, or to be reminded that this too shall pass (unless you have a totally foolproof solution, then by all means DO SHARE). I know that. And the Internet has no lack of advice, all of which has been tried. I’m just giving you an update from the trenches, lest you too are there.
I started the week turning to Baby Wise, convinced that they would have a solution. Instead, I just found “By 12 weeks your baby will be taking 1.5 hour naps,” and elsewhere “Make sure that your baby naps for 1.5 hours.” Baby Wise – you are delusional and fired.
Sometimes, James and I try to control the narrative. Like if Henry woke up after 26 minutes, we would let him fuss a little, as last week, he would fuss for five minutes then sleep for another hour. This week he proved that he has ENDLESS stamina, and there would arrive a moment where we knew the nap needed to be over, but we didn’t want to “reward” him for crying. Our solution? Wait for the first pause and then burst in, all smiles, saying things like “Henry you had SUCH A GOOD NAP! Don’t you feel so rested???” That’s right, we try playing mind games on our baby.
One time, I got him up from a nap that lasted all of 32 minutes and as I pulled off his swaddle, that cheeky little baby stopped crying, looked me in the face, and then laughed at me for a solid 3 minutes. This was the same response he gave when he produced a spit up of epic proportions all over James the other evening, only to follow it with a deep belly laugh at his ability to soil clothing.
And it’s moments like that that I lived for this week. That resignation I mentioned above, the final emotion in a gauntlet of highs and lows? It is so often replaced by gushes of tenderness and joy at the little baby who is so happy to be done napping and back with his mama. When you’re in the trenches, sometimes success doesn’t look like lengthy naps. It looks like baby grins that light up all the registers of your brain that has slowly been shutting down from sleep exhaustion. It looks like frayed nerves instantly soothed, not by peace and quiet, but by baby giggles and coos.
Now then. Back to the trenches. Further updates as warranted. Send caffeine. I’ll just be over here rapidly rotating between laughter and tears, frustration and elation, exasperation and love.