Monday, December 16, 2013

It's Time to Sleep, It's Time to Sleep

The majority of nights, putting our 20-month-old down for bed (or a weekend nap) falls to me, and I've developed a routine—not that it always goes smoothly, but that I pretty much do the same things. I put her in the Moby wrap.
I give her some milk in a bottle—definitely a bottle, because it’s slower flowing than a sippy cup—and walk back and forth (or around and around), usually while singing to her. It’s often the same few songs, too. Sometimes I sing the lullaby “Go to sleep now [nickname here], baby don’t you cry,” but I don’t use that as much with her as I did with her older sister. I tend to sing Stephen Kellogg’s “Oh Adeline” and go right from that into “Sweet Adeline.” Then I sing the unofficial alma mater of my college: “Kokosing Farewell” is one of my go-to songs, and she often falls asleep during it. I'm not sure if that's because of the song itself or because it comes late enough in the process that she's often ready to nod off. “A Shooting Star is Not a Star” by They Might Be Giants also gets pretty frequent programming, but it’s not as hauntingly beautiful when I don’t have Lauren with me to make it a round. There's a children's book called "It's Time to Sleep, My Love, but Nancy Tillman, and for long stretches of time, it actually works pretty well when sung to the tune of "Halleluia" (by Leonard Cohen, though I always think of the Jeff Buckley version).
You have to fudge the lyrics and/or the tune in a few spots, but you can also easily insert a verse from the original and it makes an awful lot of sense: "Well baby, I've been here before / I've seen this room and I've walked this floor / You know, I used to live along before I knew ya." It's not a cry that you hear at night / It's not some baby who needs a night light, / It's a parent's cold and broken "Go to sleep now!"

When it goes well, she falls asleep in the Moby wrap and I lie down and carefully undo the wrapping and move her to the co-sleeper (which is basically a crib at this point).

One night not too long ago,  she was crawling all over Lauren (and her sister, and Lauren’s computer, and...), so I went ahead and put her in the Moby and gave her a bottle of milk, but she wasn’t going down easy. Eventually, I put her in her co-sleeper even though she wasn’t asleep. I hoped that by rubbing her back, she would fall asleep. Then I just sort of stayed there, doing a wide-legged hamstring stretch to just be close to her while she tossed and turned. Finally, I lay down beside her co-sleeper, putting my head up to be close to her. She would put her head up too, and lean in for a kiss through the mesh wall. She probably leaned in for kisses twenty times or more. It was sweet, but I just wanted her to go to sleep. Finally, she did.

Sometimes, it's not nearly so sweet. Sometimes, she just won't go to sleep. She'll talk in a way that would be incredibly cute if I wasn't desperate for her to go to sleep. Or she'll wiggle and squirm, or she just plain has no interest in sleeping. I like to think that I'm patient, that I'm cool and composed, but she absolutely drives me nuts sometimes when she won't go to sleep and all I want to do is, well, go to sleep. Or go type up a blog entry. Or whatever I want to do that isn't putting her to bed. I feel like such a lousy parent at that point, when my thoughts turn to such sleep aids as hard liquor and harder hammers. But we always get through it without resorting to such desperate measures.

Lately, she hasn't been quite as willing to be moved to her co-sleeper, and I've had to lie down with her in the twin bed to get her to fall asleep. Sometimes I can move her after she's really, truly asleep (which is generally after I, too, have fallen asleep for a bit), but other times it just seems safer to leave her there (anyway, we've got a bed rail on it to keep her from falling out of bed (or, anyway, to make the path it would take for her to fall really interesting).

A good night, by the way, is one that--no matter how easily or with what difficulty she has fallen asleep--she stays asleep all night. As opposed to the ones where she wakes up around 3 am.

1 comment:

  1. I used to rock my son to sleep while giving him a bottle and singing "Uncle John's Band", "Ripple", and "He Shall Feed His Flock". The Grateful Dead and Handel -- but it worked,,,most of the time.