Sleep Part… I Don’t Even Know Anymore, Man

Is anyone sick of hearing about my sleep struggles yet?

Oh wait, I DON’T GIVE A SHIT! I’m going to keep talking about them anyway!

I think where I last left this is that I was forcing Edith to fall asleep in her own bed whether she liked it or not, but I was still sitting next to her and rubbing her back, putting her pacifier back in when she hurled it across the room in fury, etc. So not really sleep training exactly, but not rocking her to sleep in my arms anymore.

This…kind of works. Some nights she wails for an hour, other nights she goes right to sleep, but either way, she stays asleep from then on, and has stopped doing this thing where she wakes back up three or four times needing to be rocked again before she is fully down for the night.

However, when she wakes up for her middle of the night feeding, it is absolute torture trying to get her back to sleep. One night, we spent two hours at it. So I was really thrilled when she started sleeping through! She now pretty consistently sleeps through the night, which would be perfect, except…

She is waking up for the morning 20 minutes earlier every day. The first time she did this, she woke up at 6:00 a.m. which is earlier than I preferred (we had been getting up at 7:00), but not out of bounds, so we just got up.

The next morning, she got up at 5:30 a.m. which was too early to get up, but too late to feed her and put her back down, so I just popped her into bed with me and dozed while she played with my face. I suspected this might be a mistake.

The next morning, she got up at 5:00 a.m. Again, I put her in bed with me, and managed to semi-nap for another hour.

Then, this morning, she woke up at 4:40 a.m.

This removed any doubt I was clinging to as to where this is going. Having been firmly uninvited from bedsharing at one end of the night, she is now working at it from the other end. It’s brilliant, don’t get me wrong! And I respect her game!

But what am I going to do now? And perhaps more importantly, how does a stupid infant keep checkmating me like this?

Food Face

Before I became a parent, I had OPINIONS about other parents’ assumptions of random people’s level of interest in their children. Specifically, I did not understand why any parent thought it would be charming for others to see pictures or videos of their child with food smashed all over its face, as well as open-mouthed chewing, spitting, etc. I did not find this particular vein of content appealing in the slightest and I was often annoyed by coming upon it unawares. In fact, I found it disgusting.

Last night, I introduced solids to Edith for the second time, this time chunks of avocado. For a long time, she just kind of mopily pushed them around, and then she spent a good bit of time chewing on her bib, and then after she had done absolutely everything she could think of to avoid it, she picked up a piece of avocado and shoved it in her mouth.

She then made an absolutely hilarious repulsed face, spat avocado all over her front, and stared at me with a deeply offended expression. And I miraculously caught all of this on video!

Well, I immediately texted it to everyone I know. Who wouldn’t want to see my baby covered in mashed avocado and making some cartoonishly adult expressions?

It wasn’t until much later that I even realized what I had done.

Toy Vocalist, Update the Second

Deb Lyons kindly got back to me, and it turns out that she is not the singer of the Fisher-Price Kick and Play Piano Gym (although I am not the first parent to email her and ask). She did record songs for two other Fisher-Price toys, but not that one. So the search continues!

She also satisfied my curiosity as to the payment structure: whereas you might be able to negotiate a bigger deal if you are the recognized voice of an established toy or character, most toy vocalists receive a one-time fee.

I have emailed Fisher-Price to ask if they will identify the singer. I’ll let you know what I hear.

Banana

Last night, I gave Edith her first solid food — a banana cut into large chunks. I have decided to do baby-led weaning because…well, I don’t really know why. I guess because it’s now “the done thing” for moms in my social circle? I have some vague idea that this is the best way if I do not want Edith to inherit my many eating disorders. I mean, I didn’t breastfeed her, which depending on who you ask could mean I’ve already doomed her to a life of stupidity, insecurity, and diabetes, so this is really the least I can do.

I had been terrified to introduce solids because of choking, but that turned out not to be an issue. I guess I vastly overestimated her interest in eating. Edith got right down to business studiously moving the banana pieces all around her tray like a tiny businesswoman arranging her paperwork, or a three-card monte dealer, but although for months now she’s been sticking everything she encounters into her mouth, she had zero interest in trying it with the banana. This was frustrating for Mom and me, who were staring at her, vulture-like, anticipating the second she would take her first bite.

She made us wait for a ridiculously long time, and then she gummed at one of the pieces and grinned delightedly, but I think we responded with too much over the top enthusiasm, because she dropped the grin (and the banana) with a suspicious look, and then she could not be induced to repeat the experiment. She did, however, spend about an hour voraciously gnawing on the nylon strap of her high chair.

Although in the end she only managed a single lick of banana, she did generously coat her entire body, face, and all of her hair in banana mush (as well as every part of the high chair), so the cleanup job took the rest of the evening, and am I really expected to do this for every single meal? Because frankly even once a a day seems excessive. Will she still learn how to eat if I start off by only feeding her on the weekends? How much practice does it take, really?

A Full Night!

Last night, a miracle occurred. Edith complained and shouted and kicked her way to sleep from 6:15 to 7:00 p.m. and then, readers, she slept until 6:30 THIS MORNING!!!

At her usual night feeding time of 4:00 a.m., I woke up to see why she wasn’t getting up, and at the same time, she issued a single trumpeting shout into the darkness, but then she was quiet again. I woke up again at what was probably 5:00 wondering why I was asleep, and it was still quiet. I assumed it was 4:05 a.m. and I would be getting up shortly. Then, Edith began to cry and I got up and looked at my phone, expecting it to be 4:30 and, lo, it was fully morning.

I felt more exhausted today than I’ve felt in months, for some reason. I am trying not to get my hopes up that this might happen again.

San Marcos and Buda

One nice thing about having moved further south is that we’re now in easy driving distance to any number of cute Texas hill towns and other little cities. I feel this new compulsion to go do something every weekend day, because I think I’m afraid that if I don’t, if I let myself succumb to torpor for a single day, I will never do anything with Edith and she’ll become a depressed hermit like I am. Which is a stupid concern, because I’m told that kids eventually start talking, and then they demand things. But I haven’t really thought about it that much — I feel the need to go somewhere, so we go somewhere.

This morning, we drove about 20 minutes south to San Marcos, which is a small college town, to go to a farmers’ market. It was kind of a dumb waste of time, because when we got there, Edith had fallen asleep because she’d missed her morning nap (I was trying to make her fall asleep on her own like I do at night, and it did not work at all). So I sat in the car with her while she slept. Unfortunately for me, we parked right next to the bandstand, and I would not say the musical acts were excellent!

She finally woke up, and I put her in her carrier and got our high SPF parasol out and we walked through the farmers market, which was probably about ten booths, but very cute. There was a tarot card booth and an astrologer and lots of cakes and barbecue and honey and only one produce stand, and everyone there was very attractive. Then, we walked around San Marcos’s historic little town square — every Texas town has one, and I love all of them. It was boiling hot out and I had to pee and was wearing a jumpsuit and realized that there’s really no way for me to pee with Edith with me without help, especially in a jumpsuit, and especially without setting her carseat on a public bathroom floor, which I would just as soon not do. So, we got back in the car and headed home. On the way, Edith started wailing because it was time to eat, so I fed her in a parking lot about a block from my house.

It was still nice to get out and drive around. As we drove through the countryside, we passed a lot of big old farm houses and ranches and things that are open to the public either as a store or a winery or whatever and that I want to check out at some point.

In the afternoon, Mom and Edith and I all went up to Buda and had a very late lunch on the patio at a Mexican restaurant in the charming little downtown there. They were having a plein air festival and there were a lot of people out and about, and Edith got to watch the train go by twice (she hated it) and to play with a menu (she wanted to suck on it and I cruelly thwarted her), and I had some outstanding breakfast tacos. Now we are home and she is passed out in her carseat, and I get to go to bed in a mere two hours.

Six Months; One Week

Edith is six months old today! This is a real benchmark in a number of ways; one is that she can now eat solid foods. Or more to the point, I can now give her solid foods, which she can smash into her face and hair until she at some point figures out what eating is. There are probably some other ones, but I am too tired to think of them right now. Because,

It’s Friday of my first week of being back at work. I remember when I graduated college and got my first “real” job, there was this point where I suddenly realized there would be no summers off anymore….ever. Like, I was just going to be working year-round for literally the rest of my life. I knew that long before I felt the reality of it, and when the reality of it sunk in, it felt impossible.

A similar thing has happened this week, as I realize that parenting is 24/7. I knew this intellectually before, but I did not experience the reality of it until this week. When I finish a day’s work, I can’t collapse. I have to care for an infant until I am back at work again. And now that it is Friday, I do not have two days of watching Netflix or reading novels or whatever. Instead, I have two days of full-time parenting.

It’s not that this is impossibly hard or anything, just like it wasn’t impossibly hard to quit having summers off. It’s just a massive mental switch in terms of how I think about what I need for my own personal wellbeing, and just in the rhythms of what it feels like to be a person. Like, I still have the expectation of two days of solitude and quiet, and I keep being surprised that they aren’t coming — and not just not coming this week, but never coming again (well, for many years at least). This is pretty identical to learning to stop anticipating the eventual conclusion of a year in three months off, to finding a different way to think about what “a year” meant. Now I have to change my definition of “relaxing” and “solitude” and “free time.” I can still have those things, but on a very different scale than I did previously.

I imagine this will be a bit easier when Edith starts reliably sleeping through the night, because at that point, each day will have an end again. Right now, my days do have a pause between about 7:00 p.m. and anywhere between 11:00 p.m. to 4:00 a.m., but this is more a break than a hard stop. As to when Edith starts sleeping through the night, going by the experiences of my friends who have had babies, this could begin anywhere from tomorrow to seven years from now. There is simply no way to know for sure.

Poop

It is not apparent that Edith misses me much now that I’ve gone back to work and she spends all day with her nanny. She’s always thrilled to see her nanny, and while she’s also happy to see me again at the end of the day (or if I say hi on a break), she doesn’t seem, like, devastated at my absence.

However, she has moved her daily BM to exactly 30 minutes after her nanny leaves. Every afternoon like clockwork, I pick her up and cuddle her, we start to play, and then she grins at me and…expresses herself in the way babies do. This is not actually new. Every time my mother has spent a day with her, Edith has invariably saved the dirty work for when I’m back on shift.

I’ve decided to interpret this as some bizarre form of compliment, but I’m not sure that it is.

Sleep. Again.

Edith and I continue to negotiate vigorously about our sleeping arrangements. I think when last I shared about this, she had finagled her way into my bed on a pretty much permanent basis; however, since then she got herself uninvited due to excessive nighttime dancing. We had reached a fairly acceptable detente where she slept in her own bed most times, but occasionally joined me at 5:00a.m. if she was having a rough night.

However, right as I reentered the work force, she decided she wanted to go back to sleeping exclusively in my armpit, and so she started waking up and crying repeatedly no matter how many times I put her down. After two nearly entirely sleepless nights, I reviewed all the sleep training methods for the thousandth time and reconsidered.

My issue with sleep training is mostly that it just seems too complicated, and there are way too many contradictory opinions about what will and won’t work, especially when it comes to sleep training before your baby is on solids. But what I’m trying for the moment is putting her in her basinet and refusing to pick her back up no matter how much she fusses, but sitting there and rubbing her back and stroking her head as she flips around and screams and thrashes her way to sleep. This seemed to work ok last night, although it’s rather like attempting to soothe an electron into stasis.

Further updates as events warrant.

Treadmill

I have a little treadmill that goes under my standing desk, so I can walk and work at the same time. I’ve had one for years, and I use it very sporadically. Sometimes I use it every day and other times I don’t use it for months on end. But since coming back to work, I am using it a lot (well, it’s only been two days) because unlike other times in my life, I genuinely have no time at all for exercise. I have at most three hours per working day to spend with Edith when she’s awake (well, not counting the hours and hours in the middle of the night when she is suddenly very much awake and when I would greatly prefer not to be spending time with her), so I’m not going to spend an hour of that exercising. So I’m really grateful that I have the ability to multitask in this way.

I know that people sometimes work on treadmills in actual offices, but I don’t see how. When I walk and work at the same time, I am quickly drenched in sweat, and I don’t even walk very fast. I wear workout clothes to do it and it would be completely impossible to do in an office at all, and especially in street clothes. But then, I find that people are very different in terms of how much they sweat. For example, some people jog on their lunch hours and don’t shower and go back to work in their office? Or bike to work? This is simply not possible with my body chemistry, but I guess I’m happy for them that it works for them. I’ve always been very irritated by breezy “just do it on your way to other things or during breaks!” exercise advice from the sweatless, though.

Pregnancy changed a few things about the way my body works (the texture of my hair, for example, and of course, my waistline), but it does not seem to have made any difference at all when it comes to how much I sweat. Also, all the changes have been detrimental, which just further goes to illustrate how much nature despises women. I mean, why the hell doesn’t pregnancy make you stronger, healthier, and happier so you have more babies? That would be more adaptive, no? Instead, it makes you fatter, slower, more anxious and more depressed, and it actually makes you stupider for a year or more. What purpose does any of this serve?

Anyway, I like my treadmill.