Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Night is dark and full of terrors

This post is really delving deep into mommy blogger territory. To be honest, I said I never wanted to be one of those people that talked ad naseum about their baby but secretly I suspected that was how things would shake out. I don't want to continue this path indefinitely, but in the early days, when I'm home with him 24/7 and just trying to navigate this unfamiliar territory and make it to Oregon without dying of dysentery, it's all I've got. Someday I hope to have thoughts to share about something other than rock and plays and dream feeds and diaper duty.

So over that noise.

While I was having lunch with my dad and Dalton at Wegmans last week, a woman wearing an ugly Christmas sweater for real, not to be funny at a party, approached us. I've learned that having a baby means you need to be prepared to talk to a lot of strangers. She strongly encouraged us to create and stick to a schedule for the baby, claiming "research" as a reason.

Since I do take all my child rearing advice from strangers in grocery stores, I implemented the schedule immediately. The problem was Dalton refused to follow it. I scheduled him for sleep from 9-6am, and at 1am, he was still ignoring it. I had it laminated with cute little clipart, and even sent him an outlook reminder. Nothing but defiance on his end.

I can't tell if my sarcasm is evident, so just to clarify, we never tried to put a newborn on a schedule. However,  routine is just an order of events, not setting specific times for things, so that was reasonable, right? Wrong. For some reason, since giving birth, I've found the idea of a bedtime routine terrifying. Everyone was doing it, everyone had thoughts about it, and I would break out into a cold sweat when people spoke of it.

As a creature of habit, I've managed to embrace the completely unstructured days of life with a newborn. I remember when my na├»ve pregnant self thought exercise would be as simple as running while the baby sleeps. That was before I knew some days meant 3 hours of soothing to get a 20 minute nap. Then yesterday I plopped him down drowsy and ran for an entire Game of Thrones episode without a peep. I broke the cardinal rule of baby sleep and told one person about that and had the night from hell where he woke up every 15 - 20 min.

Then just fell asleep after eating. Being up all night is exhausting.

Nothing is predictable. He eats and sleeps at entirely different times every day. I just stare at him constantly trying to notice the first little signs of hungry or sleepiness and go with it.

I think for that reason, the idea of attempting any sort of semblance of a routine sounded like madness. But I have a new sleep book now, and I like it, but it said my goal for this month is a simple bedtime routine. And I'll be back at work soon, and then we will at least need a morning routine to get us out the door. So that seemed as good a reason as any to tackle my fear.

No relevance but this was one of the first times he rolled over and didn't get mad about it.

I was still scared though. I just didn't know what time to do it. Some nights he's exhausted at 8pm, and some nights he sleeps from 7-9pm. There's just no way to know! Finally, I realized the bedtime routine police weren't going to come arrest me if we did it at 7:30 one night and 9 the next. We could just try something, and if it didn't work, we could change it. Revolutionary stuff. I think part of what makes parenting so hard is that you're so sleep deprived that you overlook really obvious solutions to things that are not even problems.

We went for it. It's been like 3 or 4 nights now. Those are really small numbers so I should be able to figure out which it is. But I can't. Because last night was not the best. I'm not blaming the routine yet though. Dalton seems to like it. It's pretty simple.

  • Bath
  • Massage (I thought this was BS when I was pregnant but we took a class and now we all love it, I think)
  • Swaddle
  • Try to fit in a super short book but sometimes he's already done
  • Nursing
  • Rock and Play (I realize those are verbs but it actually means put him down in his baby bed), ideally drowsy but awake
Really this kid doesn't know how good he has it. How much would you love to end your night with someone washing you in a warm bath, giving you a soothing olive oil massage, and then rocking you to sleep? I'd be all over that.

So the timing is all over the place, but the important thing to recognize is that I faced my fear and should be commended for my bravery.

And that's the story of the bedtime routine.
To be continued...

When's the last time you faced a fear?

If  that wasn't enough mommy blogger stuff for you, check out my friend Jessy's blog for her post partum survival guide to a vaginal delivery and my guest post today, a post partum survival guide to a c section delivery.






  1. I never bothered trying for a real routine except bedtime. By 3-4 months leif set his own schedule after being completely random for the previous months.

  2. Good for you! Back in the fifties, common "wisdom" insisted putting the baby on a feeding regime (no one actually nursed back then) and if the baby was hungry ahead of schedule, you had to let him scream until feeding time. Fortunately, your grandmother and my mother did not follow this nonsense, but others in the family did. Fortunately again, we all survived, although some are pretty darn neurotic.

    I am facing a fear tonight, my gala book launch party, where I will -- gulp -- read aloud from chapter 2 of my novel.

    Would it be really tacky if I start putting "buy" links in all my comments, lol?

  3. First time commenting, but reading your blog since before baby days :) I had my son in May and TOTALLY understand what you are going through. I have now stopped telling people that he slept through the night because it typically goes downhill after I brag about it. Truth is that you can't have a schedule. Every baby is different and who knows how long it will be before they get a hint, but they will do what they want every single night of their infancy. I've learned to cherish the nights he sleeps 6+ hours and always assume that the following night will not be the same. Thanks for posting this! Have a great weekend :)

  4. We've had a bedtime routine in place since he was about a month old. It's nothing that he really follows, because he is a baby and doesn't get it, but we do have a series of things we do in the same order every night:
    -bath time (every other night)
    -turn on projector (fishes!) and the baby monitor
    -bed (usually still awake, at least a little bit)
    We started it early because he has been sleeping in his crib in his room since he was 3 weeks old and now we can get him to go to sleep without really fussing, even if he is still awake. I'm trying to work on a schedule because he will be coming to work with me and for my own sanity I need to have some semblance of routine to get us through an 8 hour work day.
    Good luck and stick to it!


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