Thursday, June 5, 2008

No Sleep 'Till Brooklyn (And Even Then ... )

All hail the Sleep Sheep!

Ugh, the sleep chronicles continue.

Stella, as wonderful as she is, just does not like to sleep. It’s like she finds it painful. I know what some of you are thinking, call Social Services. But no! It’s not like that! We take such good care of her; Randi especially tends to her needs all day, every day, while I’m out editing business stories. But this girl doesn’t take naps, she doesn’t rest, she just likes to stay awake. And then she cries about it because she’s tired! Already a woman!

Tonight is similar to many other nights in the BBD home. I got home from work, and saw that Randi sat in the darkened bedroom, with Stella at her breast, exhausted, physically and emotionally. Stella wasn’t even really sucking on the breast, it was like she just liked having it there if she wanted. Kind of like those long-time smokers who become addicted to the ritual as much as the nicotine. She digs having a boob near her face. And, sure a lot of us do, but some of us have to go to work in the morning. Randi kept trying to get her to settle down, and she almost would, and then she’d explode into fussy crying.

It’s frustrating that nothing we do seems to get her to sleep. We’ll give her a pacifier. It makes her CRY. Seriously, it’s called a pacifier, they’re not supposed to be that upsetting. But she just won’t have it.

I guess, now is a good time to talk about what Stella’s like, at seven and a half weeks, as a person. She is a very alert baby. Right from the moment she was born she looked at everything. She is so alert, in fact, that it’s hard to get her mind to relax.

We have this thing called a Sleep Sheep made to do just that. As the name implies it’s a stuffed animal—in this case a sheep. It has a little device that sticks out of its back that plays different soothing sounds designed to get a baby to go to sleep. We are very grateful to have received the Sleep Sheep as a gift from our friends Debbie and Mike. It's definitely surprised us.

One sound mimics what the human heart beat must’ve sounded like for the baby in the womb. One is the sound of rain. Another is ocean waves, and the fourth, for some goddamn reason, is psychedelic whale calls. What calling whales have to do with sleeping babies is anyone’s guess, but there you have it.

The Sleep Sheep actually works great—on us. Within three minutes of listening to the soothing sounds of rain I’m almost always asleep. Often the Brooklyn Baby Mama will then wake me up, as I now snore. I didn’t use to, but now I do, under some unwritten rule that I must age much more quickly than before the child was born. It’s not just the snoring, I have way more gray beard hair, my eyes are perpetually heavy, I’m tired, and I yell at kids to stay off my lawn, despite my lack of a lawn.

Stella could care less about the Sleep Sheep, unfortunately. True it worked the first two nights, but as is her wont, never again. Oh, but it was so nice those first two nights.

That’s the thing about Stella, nothing works on her for long. Any little gimmick, or trick designed to lull her into sleep won’t cut it, she catches on! One night I soaked the pacifier in Gripe Water, and it worked like a charm. That worked exactly once. She's smart, but in a way that's wearing all of us out, including her.

The only thing that consistently calms her down is close contact with a parent. Randi usually does the honors, because she’s around Stella more, but tonight I got lucky. I held her and “shuuushed” her, slowly. Her eyelids became droopy and she passed out. I don’t what I did wrong, somehow she stayed asleep. It probably won’t work tomorrow.

I put her down on the bed and she spread out as wide as possible, taking up as much room as one infant ever could. She always gets a smug look on her face, too, when she sleeps on the bed, like, “Hah! Got what I wanted!” I left her there for about 15 minutes, until she finally seemed out of it, and put her in the bassinet. So far it’s working, but I’m keeping my fingers crossed.

My feeling is that Stella is a sensitive, but good natured baby. Sensitive physically and emotionally. Physically, she’s had non-stop colds practically since she was born, and just, just got over a terrible rash. Her skin gets real red when she cries and she had colic, as mentioned before. She’s just vulnerable to typical baby stuff, at this point.

Emotionally, she picks up on things, both good and bad. She’s smart enough to already follow along with--and look forward to--her favorite book, The Very Busy Spider. Credit to BBM for reading to her so much already. Stella also picks up on any tension in the house real quick, and finds it hard to calm down. And, to be frank, some tension is inevitable in a home where people aren't sleeping enough.

On the positive front, she tracks with her eyes really well, and seems to read our facial expressions cleanly. I honestly feel she's a smart one. I guess we'll see. It’s hard to know what’s going on in a baby’s mind, and maybe I’m glad I don’t know. It seems to change pretty fast. But for now I’m enjoying a rare moment of calm.


Judy Knight said...

Hi David & Randi:

I am a friend of Nora's. You need to get a copy of the DVD "Happiest Baby on the Block" It is great. You may be able to check it out at the library if you don't want to buy one. It will be a life saver!

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the tip! Today she's being a doll. But we can always use some good advice.