Sunday, January 21, 2007

Sleep, and love/like, and help

Sleep

Having read all about WonderBaby's nocturnal activities of late, and of the toll they are taking on her bleary parents, I didn't want to jinx my own run of good fortune by telling you all that Miss Baby had gone about 10 nights straight with not night-time wakeups. You will of course notice the past tense in that last sentence. Jinx need no more be feared. Last night, after going peaceably to bed at 8:30, Miss Baby did her town-crier routine at: 4:00 (boobie), 4:24 (Dada), 5:05 (boobie once more), and 6:12 (grumpy and confused Dada). She then got up at her usual and accustomed hour of 8:30, ready to cheerfully greet the day. Now, the last time she pulled this routine, we felt like we were going to die. But today it was okay, because, I think ...

Love / Like

I am starting to like my daughter. Now, of course, I have loved her since the get-go (and before) even if sometimes this love felt more like guilt and sometimes more like hormones and sometimes more like social pressure. But she's turning ever more into a little person, one who finds stairs terribly amusing, who likes to be spun at great speeds, who looks surprised when addressed in French, and who enjoys talking to all the photos of little babies taped up above her change table. She looks pleased to see me in the morning. She can be calmed by voice. She can be distracted and amused. She reaches for me. She is starting to lose that look of being completely knocked over by the wash of stimulus that is the world; she is beginning to process this world. She's erecting her own little breakwater of expectation, personality, and self-hood against this onslaught. Consequently, she's not so easily rattled, and she enjoys her interactions with the world more. She's becoming a little bit self-aware (to coyly but deliberately expose and hide her neck to my tickles, for example) and a lot more social (tipping her head to flirt with strangers).

Anyhow, we would have expected a bad day today following such a craptacular night. But no. She was cheery and charming and played independently and ate happily and laughed at and with her bleary parents. Who were cheered and charmed and forgave. She even made a happy addition to a dinner party at my godparents' tonight, a feat of adaptability heretofore nearly unknown from her little self. Which leads me to ...

Help

We brought Miss Baby to my godparents' for dinner tonight. They live one town over, an insurmountable distance for those months when Miss Baby could and would scream the entire 20 minute car ride. The evening was remarkable first because we can now travel by car for these kinds of distances without anyone bursting into tears. Second, it was an evening in which we had help with babycare. My godparents love children: they have eight grandchildren (two of whom they were watching for the evening) and are godparents to my sister's two sons as well. They are happy to hold and play with Miss Baby. My sister and her husband and their two sons love babies as well, with my sister falling all over herself in her rush to volunteer to give Miss Baby her evening squash and peaches. My nephews like to entertain their new cousin: the five year old likes to hand her toys and make her laugh, and the 11 year old will prop her up between his legs to play, catching her when she tips over. There were six adults and five children, and it was happy and fun and a little noisy, but everyone got to eat supper, no one freaked out, and all the adults got to talk to each other for more than 30 seconds at a time. In these extended family groupings, kids play with each other, and babies get passed around, and everyone pitches in, and it's all just so. much. easier. than going it alone, like we do every other day.

It made me think how, generally, we all do so so much without any kind of help at all, which really tends to exacerbate any tension on the sleep or the like/love fronts. More hands on deck to help means a more even keel as we navigate these choppy choppy waters of early infancy. And junior parenthood.

So now we're home, and Miss Baby (stimulated to within an inch of her life by cousins and aunts and uncles and godparents) went gratefully and quietly to bed, and Pynchon and I can chew over the conversations we each participated in. And, of course, pray that tonight's sleep is a little less fragmented than last night's.

8 comments:

bubandpie said...

You had a baby who cried in the car! That is a hard, hard thing. I can remember one or two journeys with each baby where the blessed and expected sleep did not occur (those memories are burned on my brain), but otherwise car rides were necessary times of respite.

As for your point about help - it's so, so true. I covet those nephews of yours: my babies will probably not have any cousins, and I really regret that on their behalf.

Mad Hatter said...

Tried to comment here last night but Blogger was being a pain in the patootie.

At first I was going to be a smart ass and say, "are you sure that's not just 10 days of well-restedness speaking?"

But really, I know exactly where you're coming from. Isn't it positivley wonderful when they start becoming endearing, interactive friends?

As for the help part of the equation, I really do wish I could relate. It has been very hard for us trying to do this parenting gig so far from family. At times, it has seemed almost overwhelming.

Mimi said...

I was having a really hard time disentangling what I initially imagined as three distinct threads: sleep, love/like, and help. But they are so tightly wound together, and my decent mood and non-overwhelmedness only comes from the combination of the three. So it might be 10 good nights talking. Or it might have been a family dinner. Or it might have been Miss Baby discovering rice rusks and chewing happily by herself for 20 mintues. But I think it's the combo.

I'm sorry, Mad, you're so overwhelmed. God knows we feel it over here too, just not so acutely as you.

NotSoSage said...

I am constantly torn by my belief that "it takes a village" to raise a child and my feeling of (for lack of a better word) ownership over how she is raised. I might feel a lot less of the ownership if I felt that people in our families agreed with and respected the way we were raising her, but I digress... Parents really do fare better with help and having a break now and then, but it's hard to balance that with allowing people with such different beliefs and values to have a hand in your child's development.

I, too, had a child who screamed on every car trip until she was about 14 months old. I couldn't believe it because I'd only ever heard about people lulling their children to sleep in the car. Not her!

kittenpie said...

god, even though we now just get brief night wakings on rare occasions, it kills me. This weekend, for example - she woke up for a few minutes one night and the next morning I felt like I'd been hit with a 2x4. It makes me wonder how the hell I am even considering starting over with the baby business. I'm not sure I would survive it...

NotSoSage said...

Just read your comment over at Beck's and I had to concur. We don't get the G&M anymore but when we did, I would sit at the table raging over Leah McLaren's articles and Joe would always ask, "Why do you read it, then?"

Why, indeed. Sigh.

Her Bad Mother said...

Yeah, gotta watch the jinx. In the past, when I've crowed gratefully about WB sleeping well (finally!), I've been punished. The gods watch me, I tell you, for any sign of impiety.

Beck said...

Isn't that the funniest, sweetest thing when you realize that you've made a person that you actually LIKE? I have to tell you that my 7 year old daughter and I are hanging out, we have the BEST time. A friend mentioned the other day that she was going to loan a certain book to her teenage daughter and that they'd talk about it later and I got so excited because someday I can talk about books - real ones! - with my kids.
Thanks for clearing up the comment mystery! That columinst was perhaps the most annoying person eveeer, but I also hope she doesn't google herself and see me making fun of her. :(