Children Of The Night – Sleep-Deprived Ramblings On The Nocturnal Activities Of A Three-Year-Old And An Infant

In case you didn’t know, babies sleep a lot, just not when you want them too. The same holds true for three-year-olds.

Sam has been what I consider a very sleepy baby. I’m still not quite sure of the color of her eyes, as she almost never opens them. Most of the day, Sam is either curled up in my arms nursing or lying limp as a wet noodle in her car seat, stroller, or on the floor. The only thing that wakes this child up is her bath, which sets her to screaming. The rest of the day, she’s snoozing.

At least until midnight comes along.

It’s common for infants to have their days and nights confused. I think this problem starts in the womb. During the day, when Mommy is up and active, the baby is being constantly rocked by the motion of her mother’s body. When Mommy lies down to sleep the rocking stops and the baby wakes up. Pregnant moms will feel the baby wake up and start kicking, usually as they’re getting ready to nod off to sleep. Obstetricians know about this, which is why they instruct pregnant women to lie down when they do kick counts in their last trimester. They know the baby is going to wake up and complain because they’re not being rocked to sleep.

So babies come out of the womb conditioned to think that day is night and night is day, and it takes time to retrain them. We are currently retraining Sam.
She does okay from about 9 PM until midnight. She’ll nurse for twenty minutes and then snooze in her little bouncy chair like a champ. The problems start when she wakes up for that midnight feeding. Once she’s had a chance to cuddle in my arms and rock, she doesn’t want to be put down again. She’ll nurse and nuzzle until she’s asleep, but the moment I put her back in the bouncy chair and crawl into my own bed, she wakes right up and starts fussing. If I don’t immediately crawl back out of bed to pick her up, she starts wailing. If I try to let her cry it out, she starts screaming and I have no choice but to pick her up again.

This all started a couple of nights ago. Prior to that, she was too sleepy to tell night from day. It might have been a growth spurt the first night. Every time I picked her up, she wanted to latch on and nurse, so I spent all night lying in bed hunched over with Sam attached to me at the nipple. Not a comfortable way to sleep. The next night, to save my back, I took her to the glider each time she woke up. She’d nurse for two or three minutes and then doze off. I’d put her back in her bouncy chair to sleep (she hates sleeping on her back in the basinet) and Sam would wake up crying again. We went back and forth for over two hours, with both of us getting more and more upset as the night wore on. By 2 AM, I was swearing at my husband, who patiently lay in bed and tried offering suggestions. He got up and tried rocking Sam himself, but she wouldn’t even doze off in his arms. It had to be Mommy. We kept going back and forth with her until 4 AM when Cassie came running into our room crying. Apparently monsters were trying to get her while she was asleep. I handed Sam to Michael and took Cassie back to her room. We checked under the bed and found nothing. I got her tucked in, gave her a kiss, and told her she’d be all right. I went back to my bedroom, took Sam from Michael and tried nursing her to sleep again. Twenty minutes later Cassie came running back in, complaining of more monsters who sounded suspiciously like our cats. This time Michael took her back to bed. She stayed there another twenty minutes before coming back to us screaming about the monsters again. This time I got up, swearing under my breath at the cats, and took Cassie back to bed. I turned the bathroom light on in addition to all three of Cassie’s nightlights and tucked her in one last time. It was now almost 5 AM. I went back to my room, let Sam nurse one last time and then tucked her in too. Sam fussed for two minutes, let out a tremendous fart and finally fell asleep.

The next night, the pattern continued, except this time Cassie waited until after Sam had farted and dozed off to come running into our room. To keep the peace, I let Cass climb into bed with me, where she slept fairly peacefully for an hour or so. Then she rolled over and elbowed me in the breast, which immediately caused a flood of milk to leak out and soak us both. We did the same thing again the next night. All of this nocturnal activity slowly started driving me crazy.

So yesterday, I came up with a plan, at least for Sam. As best as I could, I kept that kid awake all day, which means she cried a lot. I did every thing I could to piss her off and make her fuss. I gave her a bath. She screamed. I made her lie on her tummy for a while. She howled. I put her down naked on the floor to air out. She wailed in indignation. I let her sleep in short snatches throughout the day, but I wanted to make sure Sam was tired when night came.

For the most part, my plan worked. Sam went to sleep after each feeding except the 3 AM one. That one took a little work. The key seems to be that tremendous fart she makes each night. Apparently the little porker gets gassy and that’s what’s been making her so fussy. I bicycled her legs, massaged her tummy and patted her back before putting her down. She fussed for a few minutes and then I heard this small, wet explosion. Turned out to be a combination fart and projectile spit up. I’m surprised the kid didn’t blow herself inside out.

Cassie still came into our room this morning and curled up in bed next to me. She slept peacefully for a while, which was good, but was a real bear when I got out of bed to nurse Sam. Michael had to take care of her, since Cassie wouldn’t go back to her room and play. But all in all, we did finally get a night of some sleep. I’m still shuffling around like a zombie this morning after having to wake up every two hours to nurse, but I can manage as long as I get some decaf coffee into me.

All in all, I can’t help but quote George Hamilton when I look back on the last few nights. Great man, great actor, that George. He said all there was to say about children and sleep in the movie Love At First Bite.

“Children of the night… SHUT UP!”

About Cynical Woman

Cartoonist, Artist, Geek, Evil Crafter, Girl Scout Troop Leader and Writer. Also, a zombie. I haven't slept in I don't know how long.
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