So, I sit at the computer, it's nearly 9:00 p.m. on a snowy Brooklyn night. The rest of our non-neighborhood is mostly tucked in, for now. It's quiet here, people are nice, and the pickles are good. Ocean Parkway is under-rated, and it's good to live in an area where people don't either resent you for having a child--like Park Slope--or look down on you for not having an expensive enough stroller--ALSO like Park Slope!
For now Stella Rae, the incomparable Brooklyn Baby Baby, sleeps. If I make it to the end of this posting without her waking up, it will be the true Festivus miracle.
Randi also sleeps, god bless her exhausted heart.
It's a been a week of reversions around here, sleep wise. It seems so trivial, sleep, and I can't believe, sometimes, the amount of bytes I've spilled musing about our lack of it. But sleep, like water and food, is only something you really notice in its absence. You can't store it, and you can't take it with you, it's a constant need. And one that we haven't been able to see fulfilled recently.
Stella was, of course, a horrible sleeper for the first three months, or so, of her life. At one point she stayed awake, crying no less, for about three days. And on the fourth day she slept for eight hours in a row. This, by the way, is the ONLY time she's slept that much in one fell swoop. And I think it's still the only time she's slept through the night.
But things gradually were headed in a better direction as of two to three weeks ago. She'd wake up once, maybe twice, a night, nurse and then generally go back to bed. She wouldn't stay awake all that long, and was relatively easy to coax back into Sleepytown. I'd put her in her crib, in her room, and she would roll to the side, cuddle with her lovie (aka a stuffed animal) and slide back into dreams. I started to feel like we had gone through some tough times, but had come out the other end. But the gods didn't see it that way.
As of about a week ago Stella started to wake up at 11:00 p.m. or so, and wake up screaming. I would go into the room, and get her. Then Randi would nurse her, but she wouldn't go back to sleep. She would then get on her hands and knees and start to crawl, but only backwards, down to the foot of our bed. We would then grab her back, over and over again. She would whine and moan while doing this. But wait, it gets better.
She's also developed a pinching habit, but it's even worse than it sounds. With the Brooklyn Baby Momma she goes right for the nipple, clamps down on it with her taloned little baby hands, and rips backwards! She has done this at LEAST a dozen times. If Randi is drifting off, as sensible people start to do around midnight, she is then awakened by the worst alarm clock ever invented by God or man. Often this will set the BBM into a terrible grouchy mood, but by lord, can you blame her?
I, of course, also get pinched. I thought I was smart, I started wearing a T-shirt to bed. No matter. Two nights ago she reached over, under the sleeve of my shirt, grabbed my underarm hair and tried to rip it out of my body. I don't care who you are, or how bizarre this sounds, that hurt! Other times, when I pick her up, she grabs a birthmark that is on my neck, right on my Adam's apple, and tries to peel it back from the rest of my skin. Holy crap! Can I tell you? She somehow manages to find it no matter how dark the room is, or how much I twist my head away. It's like she learned freakin' ninjitsu in the womb, or is Dalton from "Roadhouse!"
The worst part of all is how often our hopes are dashed. Eventually, over the past week, we've found that after hours of coaxing Stella will, indeed, finally drift off in our bed; from a combination of nursing and endless rounds of our own homemade lullabys. So, now that she's asleep I'll gently pick her up. Oh, my precious one, I'll say, as she rests her head on my shoulder, the picture of a little angel. I'll open our creaky bedroom door--holding my breath--and she'll stay asleep. Phew.
Then I'll open her creaky bedroom door--holding my breath--and she'll stay asleep. Double phew! Finally, I will gently, gently walk to her crib, and start lowering her onto her comfy, lovely little mattress. Before her back even hits the sheet her eyes spring open, and her body stiffens. Oh no. Then, to complete the masquerade, I will put her in the crib anyway, hoping against hope that somehow she will see fit to roll to her side, grab her lovie and take one for the team.
No freakin' dice. Now is when the crying starts, all over again, only worse because she had been asleep and is frustrated. She won't roll to her side, or if she does she will quickly roll back. And no matter how much I sing to her, or try to sooth her, she ain't having it. This kid is, once again, crying her little heart out. And I have no choice, we have to start over from scratch. I pick her up again, as my compressed back groans in complaint. It's a nightly crushing, and as you can imagine, it's starting to wear down your faithfull correspondent, just a little. Okay, a lot.
Needless to say, it's all getting a little bit old. People are denied sleep during brainwashing, you know, to break down their resistance. I think they do it to the Marines in basic, and to prisoners of war in, uh, war. Sleep is that important for functioning in a normal, cool-headed way. Without it all kinds of stuff comes loose.
Last night was a perfect example of stuff coming loose. We put Stella to bed at 7:00 p.m. Randi, exhausted, went to sleep at 8:30 p.m. I stayed up a little, but not too much, and was ready for bed at 11:00 p.m. This is when Stella woke up. From there we played out every no-sleep nightmare scenario you can imagine, including all those listed above, until 2:30 a.m.
We were desperate. We got incredibly frustrated. I started to say stupid stuff like "This is such BULLSHIT!" and I really started to resent Stella, like she was doing this on purpose. At one point I took her lovie and started to furiously hit her crib with it, the very picture of impotence: a man slapping wood with a stuffed animal. (Don't worry, Stella wasn't in the crib at the time.)
Randi resented me for resenting Stella. This I found utterly perplexing, because if there is one thing that can be said about our home it's this: we've all gotten irritated at each other for the lack of sleep. This goes for Stella too. I will pick her up, and she will pinch my throat. I will put her down and she will cry until I pick her up again. You get the picture. I can tell, sometimes, that she's not too keen on me.
At 1:30 a.m. I had even tried something desperate. I inflated our air mattress in Stella's room, so that we could sleep there and try to get her back in bed. Randi and I were so fed up we even argued about who would sleep on the air mattress: she won. Well, if you insist ...
But I couldn't stay in bed, and listen to Randi over our always-activated baby monitor as she desperately tried to soothe this squalling child. I kept on coming back in, over and over, probably making all of it worse. The door creaking each and every time.
"You go back to bed," Randi said, "don't worry. I've GOT it."
I probably answered with something smooth like, no YOU go back to bed. Only with more cursing.
Somehow, I don't know why, ultimately what happened was I took Stella, who was still crying, and put her back in the crib. Then I turned my back on her, and for reasons unknown, this immediately knocked her out cold and she slept until 6:30 a.m. What the HELL was that all about? I wish I knew. Turning your back as a signal for sleep? If only it worked like that with adults you can't stand.
Very, very quietly we tip-toed out of the bedroom, the BBB now at one with her dreams, happy at last. Then we got into bed, wiped out. And Randi stayed awake the rest of the night with insomnia.
Stella? She had a fabulous morning.