Thursday, September 10, 2009

Sleep Baby Sleep.

There is nothing better, as an exhausted parent, than feeling a baby slumped on your shoulder, heavy with sleep. There is certainly beauty and joy that comes with holding a baby in your arms, hearing their babble, and feeling them kiss your cheek which, as of now, consists of a large open mouth that drools and energetically clenches your cheekbone with glee - but when you're feeling especially sleep deprived and desperate for some sense of reliable schedule, nothing beats the peacefulness that accompanies their rest. Since our voyage out West, Lily has fallen into a mercurial sleep pattern, which succinctly can be described as having no pattern at all. Or regularity. I texted a friend the other day who was also trying to get his babe to sleep and asked if nine minutes counted as a nap. "Yes" he replied, "if you're a hummingbird". Sadly, and happily, Lily is not. Days later, just when I think we're back in stride she's willful in her determination not to sleep or fitful as she does. As a parent, it is a test. Of sanity, and will. It feels like quicksand, laden with fears that out of desperation your "dynamic, soon-to-be self-sufficient" infant will become your bed partner for life, eternally parked at the milk truck, or spread out comfortably next to you, hand grazing some part of your body that you now cannot move. Last night I armed myself with a bottle of wine and a pound cake, prepared to indulge as I let the newest love of my life cry it out in the other room with my set limit of 20 - 40 minutes depending on my inner strength of the moment. It is torture hearing your baby scream, during which feelings of guilt, and fears of forever scarring your child take hold. You try to rationalize soothing them in order to help them form healthy relationships further down the line, or take comfort in the idea that leaving them distraught helps shape them into self-sufficient beings. Both options seem unacceptable, and sometimes coming in briefly to quietly calm them results in a burp worthy of a bar stool or calms them enough to help them get back to sleep on their own. If you do not go in, you envision them stuck in a position they cannot get out of, hyperventilating with sobs, or terrified, waking from a nightmare. Last night I ended up with a five minute interruption and the rest of the evening was golden.
I still had the wine and pound cake.
Earlier this evening armed with yet another backup plan I found myself walking around the apartment during twilight hours with a small bunny between my breasts, yes, a bunny - in my bra, hoping that my scent would rub off on Lily's friend to help ease her into sleep. As it happens, so far this evening the bunny, Bunny, has not been called to duty but he is in the crib with her, on deck if need be.

I need to work on my lullabies but I do remember a Simpsons episode where "Rock-a-bye Baby" was illustrated and the lyrics paint images that are anything but soothing - a bough breaks, the cradle falls, down comes baby.
Maybe not.
While Lily has her pre-bed aperitif I often find myself - beyond tired - nodding off, and in between nods I tell her how her dad was an enthusiastic nap taker. She needs convincing. But today was a long one for her that began with music class and ended with some dreamy Aretha in our room now evocatively lit like a bordello. So I am hoping, praying, that all of the activity will keep her deeply asleep throughout the night. Deeply asleep, deeply asleep.

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