Tuesday, September 28, 2010

The Bedtime Routine

We began the bedtime routine last night. I'm told it's what conscientious, responsible parents do for their children. It instills a sense of normalcy and stability in a child. I like both of those things, so I decided it was time to give it a try. We've been letting him sleep in the bed with us. A warm, cozy baby is a baby who sleeps through the night. Some parents will never know the joy and the luxury of having a four-week-old baby who sleeps for seven straight hours. We do, but from what I understand, having a co-sleeping baby who sleeps through the night is akin to a baseball player taking HGH. It's cheating. Having Robinson all snuggled up in my nook is the closest thing to putting him back in the womb. Of course he sleeps through the night. Let's see him sleep through the night in his very own crib, then we'll brag.

We've made no attempt to schedule any part of his day up to this point. I always thought that was something you do later, when the baby is older. I spoke to other parents who have babies close to Robinson's age, and their babies' days are so structured, our house is like the Wild West in comparison. Not wanting to be viewed as mavericks, I decided to get with the program. Our little Doc Holiday just got himself a bedtime.

10:00 - Bath. Ok, I'm pretty sure all the responsible parents started the bedtime ritual a couple of hours ago, but this was sort of spontaneous on my part. Plus, Steve doesn't get home until 8:00 and I wanted him to be able to spend time with Robinson.
10:15 - Storytime. For our very first bedtime story, I read The Giving Tree. By the second page: "Once there was a tree...and she loved a little boy." My voice cracks and my eyes fill with tears. Again with the tears! My life has turned into a freakin' Hallmark Hall of Fame Movie. Everything is so touching and poignant, I just can't help but display emotion.
I summon my inner Kindergarten teacher, and do my best to read the story with enthusiasm and inflection. He was still wide awake, so I read The Sneetches. Now he's sleepy.
10:30 - Lights Out. Rob's in his crib. He looks impossibly cute in his new footie pajamas. I turn on his Sleep Sheep (sound: The Ocean) and he's fast asleep.
11:07 - Crying. Ugh, already? I listen to him on the monitor for a few minutes, because Dr. N. says it's important that I give him a little time to try and console himself. I decide a bottle might be what he needs, so I head to the kitchen.

Steve: [super loudly, bursting into the nursery] Hey, little nugget!
Me: [hissing from the kitchen] Shhhh! Hey! Get in here now! [waving Munchkin formula hand mixer like a wand]
Steve: [bewildered] What?
Me: [sternly] Once bedtime begins, we do not entertain or otherwise engage him.
Steve: Jeez, sorry.
Me: We've been over this. We're trying to teach him that this is not "awake" time, and we can't do that if you go prancing in there like a freakin' marching band.
Steve: You're in charge.
Me: I don't make the rules. Listen to what I read: You are supposed to give him a chance to console himself, and if he can't, you calmly meet his needs: binkie, bottle, diaper, whatever, without getting him all stirred up...are you even listening?
Steve: You don't have to be so mean [he looks down at Libby as he says it, and she stares back up at him as if to say "I know that's right."]
Me: Well, I'm sorry, but I had to stop you before you go in there and start making balloon animals for the kid. He'll never simmer down.
"Samantha, the clown is an unnecessarily creepy touch."
I didn't mean to sound cross (as Hayley Mills would say), I just wanted to create a calm, ambient mood so he'll be sleepy and I didn't want anybody to disrupt it.

11:15 - Bottle. 4 ounces. Respectable. No burp. That's unusual. I spend 15 minutes trying to get a burp.
11:35 - Back in his crib. He's awake and content, but not for long...
11:42 - Crying. He goes through this cycle of crying and quieting down, always getting quiet just as I was about to give up on the possibility of Robinson self-soothing and check in on him.
12:35 - Check on him. It occurs to me that in the midst of all that crying, he could have burped and spit up, and that my sleeping baby might be sleeping in his spit up. Gross.
12:37 - All clear. Robinson is sleeping soundly and still clean as a whistle. I should try to sleep while I can...
4:10 - Hysterical. After several minutes, it becomes clear he isn't going to stop wailing. I feed him 2 more ounces, successfully burp him, change his diaper, and put him back to bed.
10:20 - Morning, Sunshine! I don't hear a peep from my monitor, which scares me. I peek in on him, and here he is, happy as a clam.
Assuming he's starving, I scurry off to make a bottle. I return to find him sucking his thumb and staring at the circles on his bumper.
I say hello, which startles him and he bursts into tears. I decide I should leave, since I'm the crazy mommy who scares her kid. He simmers down in a minute on his own. Time to feed him again. I proceed with caution...

All in all, I think last night was a success!

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