As a first time mom, everything is an experiment around here. Actually, from what I hear, raising kids is an experiment, no matter how seasoned you are. Our daughter is now seven months old and we’re still trying to figure out this bedtime routine. For the most part, I feel pretty good with our set-up, but she likes to change the choreography from time to time, just to keep us on our toes.
Our Bedtime Routine
On a good night, we start by giving her a bath, followed by lotion, and changing into pajamas under the soft glow of a lamp. I use this time to brush her hair, clean her nose, and administer her vitamin D supplements. After saying goodnight to daddy, I nurse her with only a night light on. We switch to a pacifier until she falls asleep, transfer her to the crib and silently walk away. Yes, I put her in bed after she’s asleep, that whole sleepy-but-awake thing has never worked for us. With any luck, we won’t hear a peep until the following morning.
It’s a highly choreographed dance involving three people. Any glitch in the system can easily throw it off.
For example, if nursing doesn’t fully soothe her, then my husband has to tag in and rock her to sleep. It’s never worked for me since she associates me with feeding. She tries to nurse, prefers the pacifier and once she has it, she decides it’s back to nursing. So, it’s just better to have daddy come in and rescue us. On those nights, he can easily save the dance.
Other times, it’s the middle of the night wake up call which shifts our routine. This change can lead the dance in all sorts of directions. On rare occasions, she’ll find her pacifier and soothe herself back to sleep. Sometimes, we have to do this job for her. Even a rub on the back might get us back on track.
Then, there’s the nights when she won’t settle unless she’s picked up and soothed. A good indicator of this is when she does find her pacifier and proceeds to chuck it out of the crib. She’s seven months old and she already knows how to tango perfectly. So, in I come and nurse her back to sleep. If I’m successful and we’re both in sync, she’ll go back to bed until it’s actually time to wake up.
A more intricate dance develops when the stage gets moved to our bed. Sometimes, the only way she’ll fall asleep is if she’s being held. I don’t love it and I definitely wouldn’t do it if I wasn’t a light sleeper, but it has happened. To be honest, most of the time, she’s the one who falls asleep and I’m the one awake. At least I’m laying down and resting.
A wide-eyed baby in the middle of the night?
Yes, that happens too. Nursing doesn’t work. Rocking doesn’t work. She’s just interested in showing us how high-pitched her squeals can get. No screaming or crying, just a happy, babbling baby. She plays with her pacifier, looks at everything in the room, and blows raspberries. This last one is our cue to just give up and let her be. It can last anywhere from ten minutes to two hours and she loves to do it on nights when we’re especially tired. She’s way too cute, so there’s no way we could get upset about it.
Other nights, we have to step in and take the lead.
When she’s just fussing to be fussy, we know it’s time to let her cry-it-out. This is a very rare and special dance where we are in our own rooms, but together nonetheless. While she complains, sits, crawls, and turns, my husband and I lay very still. Usually, I’m watching the monitor, listening to her every sound, and waiting for her cries to slowly die down. It’s the part of the dance when my baby girl becomes a solo dancer and we’re just spectators, trying not to join in. Fortunately, we’ve only done this a couple of times.
It’s a heartbreaker.
Although it might get frustrating when one of us forgets the choreography, it’s always important to remember that with practice comes progress. I remind myself that even on those sleepless nights, every single second spent with her is special. No matter what style of bedtime tango we end up dancing each night, it’s only one number in the performance that we call life. Besides, if every dance were the same, it would be a very boring production!
Special thanks to our Guest Blogger, Paola Ayers, for sharing her post with us today!