I think that the thing most obsessed over by parents of babies is sleep. It seems like the whats, whens, wheres, and hows of sleep and the most consuming thoughts during a baby's first year. At least, it is in my house.
And more so with Evan than with Jonah, believe it or not. You would think I'd have it all figured out. And I certainly know a lot more about baby sleep this time around, but that just gives him license to up the ante. I am convinced that Evan is the worst sleepinest kid ever.
At seven months, he's probably capable of "sleeping through the night" but I laugh in the face of "sleeping through the night." It's not even on my radar. At this point, I don't care if he doesn't sleep through the night. I'll be happy with just one or two wakings through the night. And I don't care if people tell me that "it's normal and every baby has their own sleeping patterns blahblahblah." No way. He doesn't need to wake up this much. And on the other hand, I don't think he's being manipulative, either. It's somewhere in the hazy in-between. (Though, I am afraid that when he's a little older and learns more about manipulation, it could quickly spiral into that kind of baby-sleep-torture.)
So nights are one thing. And naps bring different, but equally vexing vexation.
(Can you tell I'm a little tired here? I find myself casting about for the perfect turn of phrase and coming up... completely blank. Blanker than blank. It's pitiful. My similies and analogies go limp and bland and I find myself repeating words. I guess the past year of sleep-deprivation is catching up with me.)
For months now, he's been taking a not-long-enough afternoon nap, and then needing an evening nap because he can't make it until bedtime and then he's not ready to go down for the night until much later than I want him to be.
A good, adequate and predictable sleep routine with a decent bedtime is very important to me. Really important. Really, really, really important. So important that I start working toward it very soon after birth. It takes time and maturity, and I'm perfectly willing to be patient. But this is just ridiculous. I expect a newborn to wake frequently and nurse around the clock. A seven-month-old? Not so much.
There are several things at play here in Evan's little Sleep World of Mommy Horrors. One thing is his neck troubles, which I hope and pray will very soon will be resolved (progress! we're making progress!). Teething has lots to do with it all as well, I have no doubt. But there is one thing with trumps them all, and I've suspected it, and now I've put my finger on it for sure.
See, when we were at my parent's house, a large portion of his sleep troubles went away. Poof! Gone. Not overnight, but by the time we left, he was in a great routine of two good naps per day at very predictable intervals and a somewhat reasonable bedtime and even -le gasp!- only two night wakings at the same time each night. I call that pretty darn good, all things considered.
And then we came home and it all went to Heave-in-a-Handbasket right away.
So, you see, the trick is, we just have to be and Grandma's house. That's all there is to it.
Okay. Right. Yeah. No.
The thing is, it's not so much about Grandma's house as it is about Grandpa's barn. 'The barn?' you ask, 'what does all this have to do with the barn?' Ah-ha. That's just it.
Upstairs in the barn is the lovely little guest bedroom in which we slept. The lovely, little, QUIET guest bedroom. Evan napped like a dream up there. (Pun! Hee hee!) In fact, at first I thought he was just exhausted after the plane trip, but then he kept it up the whole time we were there. I'm quite convinced that he was making up for all the many, many poor naps of his life at home.
HOWEVER, if I so much as tiptoed into the room, he was awake. If, as happened a few irritating times, my little brother-who-shall-remain-nameless COUGHsamCOUGH went into the barn (not the bedroom, just the barn), he was immediately awake.
And now, as I'm typing this, I hear him crying, a mere two hours after going to sleep "for the night" because Nathan dared roll over in bed. Grr.
What I'm saying is that he's a light sleeper.
Actually that's an understatement. Is there a term for sleeping even lighter than that? Helium, perhaps?
This morning, I was waking up and Evan was snoring. (That's another thing-- he snores a whole heckuvalot for such a little person...) Nathan came up the stairs ever so quietly and Evan was sitting up looking at him in two seconds flat. "What, me? I wasn't sleepin'! I'm awake! I won't miss anything!"
The best solution at this point would be to put him in his own room with a door that closes and is away from the rest of the house (and ideally with soundproofing). But I don't have that option right now. I've always heard that if you make sure that the baby doesn't get used to sleeping in quiet, he'll won't need quiet to sleep. BULL-ogna. I did that with Evan-- never made an effort to keep the house quiet so that he'll learn to not be bothered by noise. Obviously, that has not worked.
Running a fan helps somewhat, but I shrink at what that will do to our electric bill which is already getting out of control. I found myself browsing "white noise" machines on ebay tonight. Do I want to spend that $20-30?
But here I am, trying to put a price on my sanity.
YOU CAN'T PUT A PRICE ON SANITY.
Just ask me. I know.
And the interesting thing about this? The part that helps keep me from going into screaming meemees because it just so... interesting... and my brain likes interesting things-- He seems to be a very "auditory" child. Of course, it's hard to tell much at this point, and most babies probably are interested in sound. But he seems to have an extra dollop of fascination with sound and noise. He's not very coordinated, but he is constantly trying to pat the floor with his hand or something held in his hand. He vocalizes, quite nosily, ALL the time, and loves to have us pat his mouth while he does it, "indian" style. He clicks his tongue. We play little clapping games with him and he tries to imitate us. He learned how to bang on the piano if we sit there with him. He likes us to sing or hum to him (and has since he was two days old). (And it's cute now, but I've know ten-year-old's like him and... well, let's just say I expect to continue to loose my grip on sanity as Evan gets older.)
Also, my Mom told me that my brother, Seth, used to be an extremely light sleeper who always needed a fan and took maddeningly short naps. And he's now... a talented musician with perfect relative pitch.
All I can say is, Evan had better be a downright musical prodigy.