Sunday, January 4, 2009

Sleep Sagas

© Rohit Seth -

In my circle of mommy friends, it is widely known that the Babe is not a big sleeper. It now strikes me as ironic that when he was a week or so old, I almost paid good money for a book with a chapter on sleepy babies; when we first brought him home I was in a flat panic because he slept too much. Too much. I don't think I'll ever utter those words again. As he has become more alert, he has discovered that the world is entirely fascinating and doesn't want to miss anything. He's now approaching six months and we've tried every trick in the book (rocking, nursing, making weird sshhhing sounds directly in his ear), except crying it out. (You can tell which books I've read right? Baby Whisperer, Dr. Sears, Healthy Sleep Habits ...)

Naturally, I wonder how much our living situation contributes to his sleeplessness. The Babe is strong enough now to get into a push up position and throw his head back far enough so his little eyes peer over the crest of the crib. On alternate nights he'll either be in such a deep slumber he is not roused by an ambulance or he'll wake up at the sound of my typing. When he wakes I can sometimes pat him on the back and he'll doze back off. We did try not to make eye contact, but the moment he spies us, it's over. He lets out a winper that I swear means, If you're not sleeping, I'm not! Usually though once he's awake it starts the whole going to sleep process over again. Exhausting!

Here are some of the things we've tried to make the Pod as sleep-friendly as possible:

1. To substitute for black out shades, we draw our shades. It doesn't get pitch black during the day because the Pod faces East and is literally sun-drenched but it does get dim enough to induce a yawn or two.

2. At night when it is dark out, we keep one strategically placed light on near our bed by the kitchen. The fixture is on the opposite side of our L shaped studio from his crib so it doesn't shine directly on him. It provides us just enough light to eat dinner, check email and (maybe) have a conversation.

3. The hall light is another matter - that shines brilliantly into the crib like a police car's flood light. The crib is positioned in a little nook to the right of our linen closet, so when the linen closet is open - voila! - it blocks a good portion of the light. We use this trick when one of us comes home at night and doesn't want to walk into the wall.

4. We no longer watch TV with the sound on. (Are wireless headsets green?) And just lately we've taken to not watching at all because I was convinced the flashing lights emanating from the screen were flickering in his face.

These tactics have gotten us to month 5 and so far it's been liveable but we have taken for granted that young babies tend to sleep through the occasional ambulance, shutting door and other not-so ambient sounds. It means we can't have anyone over after 7 pm (bedtime) because conversations are limited to a hushed staccato of words. It also means I've been nervous to hire a babysitter because how exactly do you explain to someone that I might be paying you $15 to sit in the dark for a few hours. Just typing it sounds utterly ridiculous. (For the recond, I was typing very lightly.)

Most nights we can go about our business as usual. I make dinner, but I'm careful not to clang plates and I don't dream of loading or running the dishwasher. Whispering sweet nothings has new meaning in my life! You certainly can't have an argument, let alone a heated conversation when you're whispering.

We were initially planning to stay in the Pod until 2010 but not sure if we're going to make it.

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