Being in a new house surrounded by throngs of loving aunts and uncles is a great way for a five–month-old to spend the holidays, but it can be very taxing on the baby’s sleep schedule. This came to light around 4:45 this morning when I heard my wife say to me, “Honey, I’m so tired, can you take Maddie for me?”
Well of course I can! I stumbled out of bed and gently lifted my little girl into my arms – Her feet were kicking wildly and she was obviously ready for some thrills and action! After a quick diaper change, we made our way downstairs for a little bit of holiday cheer.
After about five laps around the kitchen and the living room, Maddie was restless and contemplating a shocking wakeup treatment call for the entire household. This is when we decided to take an early morning drive and perhaps try to coax out some that early morning energy.
I got Maddie all bundled up all nice and warm before we began our car journey to destinations unknown. I had just strapped Maddie into the car seat when she suddenly decided that this was not the best time for a car trip. She was quick with the anger and more than happy to give me the business just as we eased out of the driveway, I reached into the back and let Maddie hold my pinkie as a peace offering.
Maddie fiercely gripped the finger and tried to decide whether or not this was a worthwhile gesture. After we made it about 300 yards down the road it really didn’t matter any longer, because the baby was fast asleep.
We drove around for about an hour and even got the chance to visit a McDonald’s drive-thru. By the time we arrived back at home, all sins were forgiven and Maddie had a nice little nap under her belt.
As it turned out, she would need every second of that sleep, because putting her bed later that night was all but impossible. As we know from past experience, it will take a day or two to get Maddie comfortable and sleeping well in a new setting.
Maddie and her family hit the road heading west this morning to avoid the living hell known as I-95. We decided that the entire family would be more comfortable in a bigger ride, so months ago, we decided to rent an SUV for our holiday trip.
The bigger vehicle allows one of the parents to hang out with the Mad Madster in the back seat. This arrangement seems to work well for all parties involved. Now when the baby is awake, the parent in the back can provide either food or entertainment to keep the baby happy and the spirit of Christmas alive during a long trip.
Gina took the first shift in the back seat and marveled at all elbowroom. She also noticed that Maddie is paying far too much attention to the straps on the car seat, almost as if she is planning an escape. The baby seems to understand the fact that if she can get out the straps, she won’t be locked in. Hopefully this scenario won’t play itself out for a few months yet, but the possibility is now on our radar.
Maddie was getting some pretty good sleep during this particular trip – but the time had come to take a break and air out the baby. First we took care of a little diaper change and then gave Maddie a chance to stare at some of her fellow travelers.
Once our break was over, it was my turn for a little backseat time with Maddie. I gave her a bottle and then watched as she quickly faded off to sleep.
Gina and I have both noticed that when Maddie is sleeping on the road – she has developed a very cute habit of checking her surroundings. She appears to be sleeping soundly when her eyes suddenly snap open and she stares directly at you. The baby looks deeply into your eyes for about 6 seconds, makes sure you are the person she expected to see and then she’s out again. But this new habit also begs the following question: Is Maddie really checking out her surroundings or is she quietly plotting, getting ready to make a break for it? Only time will tell!
For such an amazingly photogenic baby – Maddie was not interested in participating in a little holiday photo cheer this evening. For a little girl that is always ready with a smile and who loves nothing more than attention, she was really grinching it up this evening.
We tried a variety of outfits and poses, but the little cutie was not playing our game this evening. I snapped picture after picture, but honey badger don’t play that game! I was actually quite entertained by the spectacle – a Christmas card shot tonight would have the caption under Maddie reading, “What’s your major malfunction?”
The more my wife and I talked sweetly or tried to excite the baby, the more she dug in her heels to let us know that tonight was NOT our night and she would not be sweet-talked by anyone including her parents.
We tried a variety of locations including the Bumbo chair, the floor and even under the tree – but Maddie was quickly losing her sense of humor with her inept parents and their wild shenanigans. After I shot a little more than 40 pics, it was time to suspend negotiations and give it a try some other time.
Apparently the baby was exhausted after all the paparazzi attention because the second Gina took the baby back to the room, she literally passed out. Gina laid Maddie in the crib and the baby simply checked out. I don’t know when our next photo shoot is – but Maddie assured us that we better have a smarter plan in place if want to make it through the day unscathed.
With all the mayhem with Maddie at the Short Hills Mall yesterday, a couple of friends reached out to me about the fear factor associated with having a baby. This is when I realized that I left out a few critical components in telling yesterday’s story.
First let’s recognize the obvious points of my poop adventure at the mall.
- It was pretty nasty.
- It was relatively embarrassing.
- It definitely sapped every ounce of energy out of my body.
But believe it or not – there were multiple positives that came from this uncomfortable situation. Spending time with your daughter is an amazing experience even when everything is going to POOP in front of you.
Number One: When you are walking through a public place and the baby is screaming – you are much more focused on soothing the baby rather than the stares that are coming your way. That focus on the child makes this walk of shame much more palatable.
Number Two: Many other parents were very kind and offered words of encouragement as Maddie and I passed by. One guy even stopped and said, “I’ve been there, man.” Another woman held the elevator for me and assured me that things like this happen from time to time.
Number Three: When Maddie and I finally made it to the car – She gave me a big warm smile and fell asleep right there in my arms. There is no feeling that compares to that in the world.
So despite the day’s trials and tribulations, I was practically swimming in my love for little Maddie. No matter what adventures we enjoy or are forced to struggle through together – the love for the baby overcomes all difficult or unsanitary situations – even when you are slugging it out through a poop storm at a mall in Northern New Jersey.
Maddie and PaPa had just finished a quick and efficient trip to the mall in Short Hills, New Jersey when things took an abrupt and alarming turn for the worst
We had been in the mall for less than 20 minutes and were already on our way to the car. I lifted Maddie out of her stroller and stopped dead in my tracks – say it ain’t so! The stroller had a long brown smelly stain that could only mean one thing – BACKDRAFT! Backdraft is the name I’ve given to the gravity-defying phenomenon that takes place when poop blows up the baby’s back instead of where it belongs into the diaper.
Much to my dismay, I turned the baby around and the evil gravy had obliterated her shirt! You cannot be serious! Now it’s decision time. At this point, the baby is still happy. Do I risk taking her home covered in the goop or do I risk a trip to the public bathroom? The last time we changed a backdraft, Maddie screamed bloody murder for several minutes. I made the only decision I could – try to clean things up and hope for the best.
One we got into the bathroom, Shakespeare came to mind: “Cry havoc and let slip the dogs of war!” It was a nightmare! To date, it’s the worst diaper disaster I have ever encountered. I honestly didn’t know where to start – there were nasty pockets of poop in too many places to count. As soon as I started cleaning up Maddie, she went nuclear, screaming at the indignity and discomfort of it all.
Now it’s a party! Poop, screaming and penetrating stares from fellow shoppers! The only thing that could possibly enhance this experience would be if my baby bag were missing a backup outfit! Yahtzee!!! No backup!
Now what? Just like in the movie Legends of the Fall, I had to wrap Maddie in a bearskin! Well actually it was my fleece jacket, but you get the picture. Now Maddie is really screaming as PaPa rushes through the mall in search of some baby clothes.
Some people are giving me encouraging or sympathetic looks while others are shooting daggers at me – Honey Badger don’t care, she’s just screaming. I rushed into Macy’s and told the clerk, “I need a onesie – Right now would be good!” I laid Maddie down at the register on my jacket and dressed her right there. I’m already doing things I never imagined and Maddie is only four and half months old. I think this parenting thing may take a little more practice.
Once again (just like Thanksgiving) Maddie has renewed her own personal holiday tradition of boycotting sleep. This weekend, Maddie used holiday activities like shopping and visiting friends as a platform to strike down naptime as completely uncalled for.
This nap drought was NOT due to a lack of trying by her parents – Maddie was put down in her crib time and time again, only to rise like a warring Phoenix from the ashes. She woke time and time again screaming and demanding liberation from the confines of her crib and the terrible injustice of naptime.
If there is even the slightest hint of any activity in the house, Maddie is determined to place herself in the center of it like she did this weekend. It doesn’t help that she is always more than happy to charm and delight anyone who enters our home. We had some friends come over for a little holiday cheer this afternoon, and the Madster was in full entertainment mode.
As soon as she spotted our friends Dan and Michelle, a huge welcoming smile spread across her face. She batted her eyes and let them know she was ready to play and ready to party.
Everyone was having a great time, but after a couple of hours, Maddie began to rub her eyes. This is the telltale sign that our little treasure is losing stream and needs a nap. Mom shuttled her away and began the unenviable task to trying to put our little lion club down for a nap.
It lasted for all of 15 minutes before the little war eagle was screeching from her bedroom yet again. Gina went back and forth with her until the angel was back out front with us living the dream.
It’s nice to fantasize that naptime will get easier with Madeleine, but we have actually come to grips with the fact that our little girl will likely be combating naptime for years to come.
Maddie celebrated her first Thanksgiving holiday in style surrounded by loving relatives in Northern Virginia. A good time was had by all, but with so many activities underway across the house, Maddie repeatedly refused to participate in the napping process.
The baby rolled out this afternoon showing off the latest in turkey-wear including her gobble-gobble shirt with a little turkey on her butt. Maddie spent special one-on-one time not only with her grandparents, but her aunts and uncles as well.
The girl just loves a party and is always terribly nervous that she might be left out of the festivities. So she waged a single-handed war against every attempt to put her down for a little shuteye.
Some naps lasted 15 whole minutes, but most never made it past ten. Even after the sun went down, Maddie was still too hot to trot. During a 9pm diaper change, the baby was flailing on the table like it was 6am – wide eyed, wide awake and chattering away like a wild little monkey.
So PaPa had the unenviable task of trying to put the wild banana to sleep. However, after 30 minutes of wild howling – it was time to call in Grandma. Grandma did just fine until she tried to put Maddie down and that’s when it hit us – Anybody trying to put the baby down is enemy!
These trials continued for some time proving once again that when you break the baby’s normal routine – you MUST pay the piper!
For those of you who live on the East Coast, you already know that Interstate 95 is chalk full of traffic jams due to idiots who wreck their cars and SUV’s going at least 25 mph over the posted speed limits. However, after more than 40 years of driving on that god-cursed stretch of road between New York and DC, today was the worst trip ever and poor Maddie was front and center for the entire 9-hour ordeal.
That’s right, 9 hours to go a little over 200 miles and every suicide jockey in a 400 miles radius was looking for a prom date to the hereafter.
It’s a very bad feeling when you have a 4-month-old baby in the car and every inadequate loser is zipping by at speeds of up to 100 mph on rain-slicked roads. Maddie and her parents got snagged in at least 4 dizzying traffic jams in three different states due to the exploits of these expert drivers with amazing insecurity issues.
It is hard to fathom how Maddie endured hour after hour with Zen-like patience as her parents complained bitterly about the nightmare that would not end. We had to stop and feed her twice, but she was such a good girl and helped her mom and dad keep their wits about them.
Maddie was sound asleep when got off the highway nine hours later. We were less than a mile from her grandparents house when Maddie was jarred awake by the sound of a terrible impact. Her father had just tried to straddle a dead deer on a curve, and the undercarriage of the car made full contact with the carcass.
Even after being woken up by this spectacular impact, Maddie took the incident in stride and didn’t even cry. I don’t know how she keeps her cool like that, but there is a lesson to be learned here.Maddie was obviously thinking that despite the exhaustive journey and mashing the dead dear underneath the car, it’s important to be thankful that everyone arrived safely. She also couldn’t have been happier that once again, it was time to eat!