Sleep Habits

All That Work Comes with a Price

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I’m just resting my eyes

After 14 straight days of standing, crawling, skydiving, bull riding and nunchuck fighting demonstrations, guess who finally hit the wall? That’s right, my little Maddie, the 10-month-old dynamo was forced to call a truce with the universe this morning.

I actually never saw this coming. Maddie roared awake at around 5am and was ready to take on all comers. She seemed even more anxious than usual to express some very loud opinions and get going with some rigorous full-contact outdoor activities. Right after we dropped her mom off, Maddie made it clear that I had about 10 seconds to storm the local Dunkin Donuts and liberate a whole-wheat bagel for her to destroy.

Within moments, the helpless bagel was struggling for survival as pieces of dough exploded out of Maddie’s stroller. Horns were blowing and rescue teams poured into the area as bagel pieces rained down on helpless commuters, pelting light rail passengers and shattering windshields within a 3-block radius.

“I need more speed,” demanded Maddie as I pushed the stroller towards the waterfront.  The baby rolled her eyes with disdain and suggested that maybe it would help if she got out and pushed. She’s been dragging her feet on a decision to replace her dad with a more obedient stroller driver, but still hasn’t had the heart to pull the trigger.

As I quickened my pace to avoid any further controversy, I noticed that the stroller compartment had fallen uncharacteristically silent. I slowed my pace so that I could catch a glimpse of what Maddie was up to now. I almost tripped and fell over when I saw that she was actually sound asleep???

Maddie hasn’t fallen asleep in her stroller in months. I slipped the stroller into a lower gear and made a subtle break for home. 20 minutes later and the baby was still sawing wood. I found a quiet section of sidewalk and decided to let her sleep it out. More than a half hour later and Maddie hadn’t even budged. It appears that my force of nature has finally decided to take some time to recharge.

The calm before the storm

I’m glad to see her getting the rest, but I have to worry what she might be like once she catches up on her sleep. I know she’s contemplated running a marathon and scaling the Empire State Building, but for now I intend to enjoy this scant amount of downtime.

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Helping Baby Beat Back the Bedtime Blues

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Can you please bore me to sleep?
Bedtime at night has always been an area where Maddie’s parents have found safe haven. Sure naptime has been an up and down proposition, but once the lights go out, Maddie is not far behind.
 
Tonight’s nighttime routine was in line with what we’ve been doing since the beginning of the year. Maddie gets a little food, some bath time and then a bottle sends her right into dreamland. However, Maddie’s GPS must have shorted out tonight because dreamland was apparently off line.
 
Maddie’s mom laid the baby into her crib and closed the door. But one look at the monitor and it was obvious that Maddie had other plans for the evening. She started swinging her legs up in the air from one side of the crib to the other. Each time her feet would land with a crash into her shuddering crib. There were no screams, cries or protests – just vigorous crib activity and a few giggles. What was that wild banana up to now?
 
Her mom tried to coax her back to sleep with some more bottle, but Maddie was all fired up with no place to go. Once she was back in her crib, she picked up right where she left off. She was engaged in some sort of ancient steel cage kick fighting match with an entity that only she could see.
 
She must have lost that fight, because once the physical activity stopped, she started crying. I knew that it was time for the one activity we share that literally bores her to tears. That’s right, it was time for dad to break out the Fuzzy Little Duck storybook.
 
I started reading with a dull and totally monotone voice that seemed to suck the energy out of the room. I droned on in flat and disinterested voice that quickly turned the tide on my little powerhouse. She gave me a bored long look, silently imploring me to stop the madness. But I was too bored to notice and Maddie was quickly losing steam. I finally put the duck book out of its misery and laid Maddie into her crib without protest.
 
So was this rocky bedtime a blip on the radar or a sign of things to come? Personally, I’m hoping this was nothing more than an isolated incident, but there are a whole stack of baby books just waiting for me to butcher and drain of any potential interest.

Baby Daughter Demands Equal Driving Time

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Who took my sunglasses??

Maddie’s driving continues to improve each day, but her parallel parking is still a disaster. Actually, Maddie was great a passenger both to and from the airport during this most recent trip.

We had to find the perfect balance of snack time, bottle time and naptime but it all seemed to come together with a minimum amount of carnage during these 3-hour-marathons back and forth to Chicago.

I’ve become the designated sleep whisperer for all trips surpassing the two hour mark. If I’m not driving, I’m in the back seat sleeping with my little commando. The motion of being a passenger in any vehicle or airplane puts me right to sleep. Maddie is not the best sleeper in a moving vehicle unless she’s stuck with me.

Where are you going to sit?

The best way to keep the baby sleeping comfortably in the car is to know where a pacifier is at all times. This is true even if you are sleeping right along with the baby. As soon as Maddie starts to stir, my eyes snap open so I can quickly locate the closest pacifier.

 

 

Maddie opens her eyes the tiniest bit. I pop the pacifier into her mouth. Then the baby confirms that she is in the company of loved ones. In less than 8 seconds the event is over and the princess is back in dreamland. I always make sure that I am not too far behind.

For whatever reason, this shared sleep method does not work for us during air travel. But at least Maddie gets a reasonable nap before we begin to battle the forces of evil at the airport.

Baby’s Rooms Sounds Like 1940’s Aircraft Carrier Deck

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Music to Maddie's ears

Maddie’s parents have been forced to battle the noise of multiple construction projects using the loudest industrial fans made by man. Instead of a baby’s sleeping area, Maddie’s room looks and sounds more like a vintage aircraft carrier flight deck.

This is all necessary because some guy in our building hired the Acme Construction Crew from the Roadrunner and Coyote cartoons. These master craftsmen have been trying to build a recreation deck for months now. The only problem is that they are moving at a snail’s pace with no noticeable progress. If Noah had hired them for arc construction, none of us would be here today.

However, this doesn’t stop them from hammering and power sawing every day like they were building a wooden dock out to the Statue of Liberty. They power saw so frequently that they have literally cut every piece of lumber within a 50-mile-radius. You would think that they were nearing completion on a full-size wooden replica of the Great Wall.

The problem is that Maddie’s bedroom has windows that overlook the courtyard where this historic undertaking is underway. So today I decided that since I can’t beat this deafening symphony of confusion – I should add to it. Gentlemen start your engines! That’s right, break out the fans and yell, “CLEAR!”

So as we fire up the engines, the $64,000 question is will Maddie be able to find sleep on the deck of an old school aircraft carrier? Maddie and I fought our way through the gale-force winds of the bedroom to lay her down in her crib.

Like many parents, we have a baby monitor to make sure the baby is sleeping peacefully and not repelling off the side of the crib. I stared at it with unabashed curiosity watching every move Maddie made. Within just two minutes, Maddie had already checked out and was sound asleep.

Obviously we don’t want to get too cocky, but for one day, we found a way to overcome the slow motion construction project forever taking shape outside of Maddie’s window.

Curse of the Late Afternoon Nap

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I feel so refreshed, let's make it a late one!

Few things rip into a peaceful bedtime routine like the curse of the late afternoon/early evening nap. But what can do when that’s when the baby wants to nap? Apparently, not too much.

When Maddie snags a good nap in the morning or early afternoon, bedtime is a breeze. But if she is still napping around 4pm, undesirable nuggets can hit the fan with great velocity. There was a time when we foolishly believed that any nap the baby took was a good one. Maddie has been more than happy to dispel this misconception for us.

At 5pm this afternoon we could feel our anxiety mounting as Maddie slept like the angel she truly is. At this point we knew two things were in store for us.

  1. Once the baby woke up, she would be in a wonderful mood.
  2. Once it was time for bed, it would be time to pay the piper and deal with what we like to call the wild banana syndrome.

Both of these predictions soon came to pass. Maddie woke up sweet as sugar magnolias. She was fun, charming and bursting with love. We fed her pork and vegetables and she was the perfect little lady.

But once it was time for bed, a dark shadow crept over the house. That sweet disposition tuned sour and the angry bedtime antics began. First came the angry protests that quickly escalated into an-all out temper tantrum. The nerve of these idiot parents trying to put me to bed, do I look tired to you??

Letting Maddie work it out in the crib is never a big hit either. She expects full payment of these parental follies and wants it all up front. She also demonstrates great athletic prowess by flipping from one side of the crib to the other.

In the end, it just takes a little extra love and patience along with about 45 minutes of hanging out in close proximity to the crib. Eventually the queen burns herself out and is hopefully asleep for the night. All that’s left to do is go to bed early and hope tomorrow delivers an earlier naptime that doesn’t trigger another extended witching hour.

Maddie’s Stroller Takes Down Helpful Neighbor

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Someone should be selling tickets to see this!

It was a contest of epic proportions – man versus stroller in a winner take all grudge match. I tasked my neighbor to bring in Maddie’s stroller and the sparks began to fly. Foul words were spoken as the tempestuous contraption put the screws to my friend who was only trying to help. It seems no good deed goes unpunished in Jersey City.

It all began with Maddie’s typical outdoor time. The weather was noticeably colder so we grabbed an extra blanket to go along with that fresh Jersey air. We hit the local Starbucks in a flash and were already headed home when I saw that Madeleine had fallen sound asleep in her stroller. This is despite the fact that she had only been awake less than 90 minutes.

As I got closer to home, the quandary loomed larger than the Statue of Liberty. How would I get the sleeping baby up to her crib and secure the stroller at the same time. You can’t leave anything outside in Jersey City and expect it be there when you get back. I decided on an unorthodox approach and called my neighbor for backup. I asked him to round up the stroller for me while I ran Maddie upstairs into the house. She could keep sleeping and the stroller would not end up in some back room pawnshop traded in for crack money.

I showed my neighbor the pull cord that allows the stroller to go flat and headed upstairs with sleeping beauty. I laid the sleeping angel in the crib and quick-stepped it downstairs to see how my neighbor was faring with the stroller. What I saw next was priceless. The image of a grown man literally wrestling with the baby buggy will be seared into my memory for months to come.

If the stroller was a deadly python, it was surely getting the best of my poor desperate friend. I watched for a moment as pushed it, prodded and maybe even took a swing at it. He even lifted it off the ground in a WWE move that I thought would signal the end of my baby’s ride.

Finally, I had to put an end to this conflict before someone got really hurt. I thanked him for his efforts as I corralled the man-eating stroller. He said WAIT, I want to see how you do this! I pulled the cord (printed with the word PULL) and the stroller obediently snapped into a flat and easy to carry package.

The afternoon was a success, Maddie got the nap she so desperately needed and I was witness to a performance for the ages.

Sleep Sack – Blessing or Curse?

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Is there broken glass in this thing?

From the parents point of view, the sleep sack is a blessing – but I think our darling 7-month-old daughter Maddie, would beg to differ. Once you start zipping the sleep sack up with the baby inside, you have a life and death struggle on your hands. At least that’s my little girl’s reaction to the process.

Maddie takes the advice of the famous poet named Dylan Thomas who wrote: “Do not go gentle into that good night.” She actually takes things up a notch with her “Rage, rage against the dying of the light.”

Just the thought of being put to bed and zipped up into the sack is such an alarming prospect for my little girl. Her reaction is nothing short of bizarre. It’s like there’s broken glass or live bees waiting in the sleep for her.

For a while, I was actually fooled into opening the sack to make sure there was nothing in there that was causing any discomfort. That’s always a mistake though, because trying to zip up the sleep sack is like trying to put a rabid Rottweiler into a Tupperware container. Those pulsating legs have no interest in being tucked away and will fight until the bitter end.

The process itself actually takes a little less than a minute. Once my little angel is tucked away, all that anger and anxiety gently drifts away.

I have tried time and time again to talk her through the ordeal, but it’s becoming more and more apparent that I have to let her work it out. She doesn’t want to be soothed, she just does not want to put the outfit on.

However, as I noted a few weeks ago, putting Maddie into the crib without the sleep sack is a wasted effort. She will sleep no more than 30 minutes at a time without it. With the sack on, she sleeps anywhere from one to two hours with each nap. So that 30 to 60 seconds of raw carnage is obviously well worth the effort – its just a little bit confusing.