We adored every sleeping and waking minute of sharing our bed with our mini miracle until all of a sudden -- somewhere between molar two and three and around the bend from the fine line in the sand between love and hate -- we realize that this arrangement no longer works.
Our leading lady has been molaring for the past two weeks and the drain of hourly moonlit milk bar breaks have turned our universe of co-sleeping bliss into a twisted silver screen feature starring Papa bear as Scar, while my impersonation of Cruella Deville incites Oscar buzz.
We are sleepwalking messes with nerves so tense they'll pop like tendons. I don't like me. I don't like Papa and I (God forbid) may not actually like whiney bébé. The shiny instaready bubble has burst and something's got to give.
Thirteen sleepless nights into the nightmare my stoic lover, turned husband, turned baby daddy downward spirals into the mucho dollar, Canadian made glider (that only ever rocks our guests to sleep and has no such effect on said bébé) and loses façon: "blah blah, missed our window, blah, blah, exhausted, blah, blah, no light at the end of the tunnel, blah, blah, and I miss my wife!" Is this the same man, who just a blink of an eyelash ago loudly proclaimed his love for baby feet in his face?
Oh Schatzi, your message is signed, sealed, delivered! Granted, I feel like shooting the messenger and throwing myself off the balcony.
The rip line has to rip before this trio crashes to planet earth without an open chute.
I don't hesitate to ask the google for help and up she pops. The fairy godmother of 12 hours rest with enough nap time in a day to shower and use the loo without a tiny person wanting in on the action. Hand me the seashell and I'll encapsulate my singing voice for all eternity.
I dial. We talk. She sets a date. September 19th (she's taking her babes to the land of mouse-eared fairy princesses). Audible relief.
Instead of complimenting my promptness in plea resolve, he cries: "Twenty-one nights from now?!" and he's right. Our bubble is a frightening fantasy version of the land of (no) nod and time is of the essence when it comes to saving sanity, a marriage, and our belief in parenthood.
Stinkies hit the fan and I decide to veni, vidi, vici it.
That evening Papa bear is nowhere near the platform where the sleep train is set to leave the station. He cannot hide his cynicism while negotiating our way through a Swedish furniture mogul's "we don't offer replacement screws for cribs for safety reasons" dilemma, and refuses to run after the choo choo, while we drive home with a screaming, Maxi Cosi prisoned toddler burdened by our strain.
When we enter our Chinatown pod, without screws, but feeling fully screwed, the silence is sliceable.
Without a word he disassembles the bedside hamper and rebuilds a crib in a bedroom I vaguely remember decorating in pastels, while the beat of a second heart rocked my world.
It's an ill comprised plan and the first night a blur. Too exhausted and grief struck over forcefully closing chapter one of the high contrast baby book, we sit and wallow, each drowning in our own puddle of longing and doubt.
Night two involves adult grape juice, 1980s dancing and perhaps the magical creation of a little someone who knows nothing about sleep directions in beds shared with giants.
Turns out, distraction is the life hack to the spiel while we suffer the performance of the philharmonic trained heartstring player. 7:01: she cries, 7:01 I cry, 7:01 Papa bear cries. 7:01 she's still crying. 'Mission abort?!'. No. Miracles take time.
On night three Ella gifts us the elusive twelve-hour miracle. No nursing, no rocking, no word of a lie! Loss of consciousness on our parts is the only logical explanation.
Night four we host dinner with friends who reframe her "you're ruining my life" cries as "you've got to be fudging kidding me that you made me share a bed with you two morons when I could have had my own w(ahhhhh)nderful quarters all along."
Our story isn't your story, but together we wrote history.
Put a pin into the all things worth doing are hard Pinsteration? Whomever calligraphied such wisdom into the ancient cave of parenthood unequivocally got it right.
What makes us great parents isn't choosing to let our mini-mes cry it out or keep them in our beds until college. It's that our choice authentically resonates, suits the little in question and is guided by the brightest four letter word of them all: good old fashioned LOVE mixed with a buttery scoop of acceptance that all our littles have their own vibrant styles too. I don't know who she will become, but she already knows who she is.
Ella craves space and considering that a good thirty per cent of our exorbitantly priced, doll sized Vancouver condo is specifically decorated to suite the needs of someone roughly her age, weight group and size, we decide to go out on a limb and let her have it; four walls to embrace her irresistibly eclectic, wildly irrational and intoxicatingly charming, beyond her years independent and wise self.
A room where she can close her door and perhaps her heavy lashed eyelids knowing Mama and Papa are on the other side, quite possibly counting down until she wakes and joins the pillow fight.
For every Bernie there's a Trump. For every know-it all wise crack, there is a Ph.D. quack with a reputable counter study. All carbs, no carbs. Good eggs, bad eggs. It's what make the sparks fly while we churn. Gather evidence that vibes with you and if nothing does then draft your own darn white paper.
Tonight we'll macramé teepees, infuse potions, learn calligraphy or otherwise spend our newfound freedom. Yup! This li'l fam jam is once again dreaming.
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Babies often fuss in the night. Keen parents hear their baby fussing on the baby monitor and jump out of bed to respond. The reality is that many babies make noise and fuss without being fully awake. Parents often unwittingly rouse their sleeping baby by checking on them. Instead: Wait until you are convinced that they are awake before responding.
It's wonderful for a baby to have a soothing sleep prop or ritual to help ease them into sleep. However, because nursing or rocking a baby to sleep is so common, your baby might easily develop a dependency on you to perform these actions in order to fall asleep. It’s better for children to learn their own self-soothing methods. Instead: Soothe your baby until they look very sleepy, then place them down to sleep awake.
Who hasn't taken a crying baby into their bed just to get a good night’s sleep? Babies learn that if they cry long enough you might just let them sleep with you, which means your one-night solution creates more nights of tears. Instead: As exhausted as you are, it’s better to make and stick to a sleep training plan than to cave into your own exhaustion.
We associate good sleep with being cozy and warm and we assume children are afraid of the dark and need quiet. In fact, the human brain needs certain conditions to help it enter and stay in its sleep cycle: a) Dark room (try black out curtains) b) Cool room (a drop in body temperature helps melatonin production) c) White noise (infants have been listening to their mothers heartbeat in utero for months, so white noise is more comforting than silence)
Because babies spend so much time sleeping, parents often wait too long before beginning evening tuck-ins. Instead: Make a baby tuck in routine. Here is an example: bath, sleepers, diming the lights, evening feed in the same chair, singing the same song, rubbing their back while the crib mobile plays the same song, kiss and leave. The brain learns to recognize this pattern, anticipates sleep is coming, begins producing melatonin, and brain wave activity starts to shift towards REM sleep.
When our babies wake in the night it can be a challenge to get them back to sleep. Frustrated parents can become so awake themselves that they decide to turn on the TV, cook a meal, do some laundry and make the best of it. The light and noise of the TV, along with all that activity, make it harder for a baby to distinguish day from night. Just the exposure to light alone arouses their brains to a more wakeful state. Instead: Keep at it. If you have to do something to pass the time yourself, try listening to music on headphones or reading to regular light rather than the light emitted from screens or phones.
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