Going from two naps to one is not rocket science, but it sure can seem as difficult

Zach slept through his first haircut ever (in March).  He never even opened his eyes.  My friend took pictures to prove it (and if she gets them to me, I will post one here).  It happened because he was transitioning from taking two naps to one, and he had been up too long, and he – was – zonked.  And more than three months later, he is still transitioning from two naps to one.  For every day he takes one nap, he has a day he takes two.

Changing from two naps to one happens around 15-months: the same time a child is teething either some molars or canines or both.  This is cause for extreme parental confusion because you often can’t tell if the child is over-tired and cranky or in pain, or both (which is SUPER fun for you, the parent).  There is no math formula you can use to deduce the answer of how and when to do it (as it is for many aspects of parenting, which drives someone like me crazy).

Maybe this hasn’t been your experience, but I found that with my first child, I often felt helpless because I didn’t really figure out what was wrong with Eliza until whatever the problem was had been resolved for a few days.  You can watch for the signs of teething, and your baby might have them all: low-grade fever, excessive drooling, spitting up, orneriness, and gnawing on anything he can get his hands on like your jewelry, furniture, the dog’s bones, and everything that’s NOT a teething toy (because neither of my kids actually wanted to chew on something meant for chewing).  But until you see that tooth start to come through the gums, you wonder if your child is getting sick, or has cancer, or has decided you’re a horrible parent and you can no longer console her because she wants a new mom.

So when Eliza started fighting taking a nap in the morning around 13 months, I thought she was in pain because she was teething, so  I continued my two nap schedule.  (And I probably pushed a bit more ibuprofen than the poor thing ever needed, but when you’re beyond done listening to screaming, you’ll medicate in case pain is causing the relentless episode.  Don’t act like you don’t know what I’m talking about.)  I tried to force her to sleep in the morning, and she would cry in her crib for, like, dozens of minutes.  And then she’d get so exhausted that she would crash at about 11 a.m. and take a three-hour nap.  And thus, she’d skip a nap altogether in the afternoon, and I finally put two-and-two together.  So after about a month of fighting her to take two naps, I gave in and at 14-months, she was taking one, nice long afternoon nap.  (It was easy to push her one nap about 10-15 minutes later every day for a few weeks until it was around 1 p.m.)

Of course my experience with Zach has been completely different because he’s 18-months-old and – as I mentioned above – he still naps twice some days.  But I’m much more likely to let him make the decision instead of force him to take a nap he clearly doesn’t want to take.  I know he’s a different child, but I’m also a different parent, too.

I was more rigid with Eliza, thinking, “You need a nap right now.  I know you do because you do every day at this time.  So you’re going to sleep even if you cry for 45 minutes.”  Now I can take Zach’s cues a little better and go with the flow a bit more.  But I will say he’s the more sensitive to pain of my two kids, so the fact that he’s been transitioning from two naps to one for several months has meant that he has teethed through all four molars and all four canines in the process, and that’s thrown me for a bit of a loop.

That said, I think I see a light at the end of this – in the scheme of things – short tunnel.  Until now, on the days Zach has been taking only one nap, he seems unable to take a LONG nap.  But he’s finally extending the length of the one nap, so I think we’re almost there.

It’s a good thing, because he already needs another haircut, and I don’t want to schedule one until I have a better idea of when he’ll be awake and when he’ll be asleep.

The “big deals” of child rearing that we dread don’t always turn out to be dreadful

Killing two birds with one stone is awesome, especially when it relates to kids.  Often, it seems like forces are working against you as a parent.  Some days nothing goes as you wish, you feel like a failure and Murphy’s Law kicks your butt.  But sometimes, you get pleasantly surprised.

I’ve been dreading weaning Zach from his pacifier.  Of course I read somewhere that kids shouldn’t need them or use them past the age of 1, so as Zach is 13+ months, I already feel like a failure in this area.  (We type-A folks put a lot of pressure on ourselves.)  Side note: I know plenty of two- and three-year-olds who still use them, and they seem to be doing just fine, but that just isn’t for me, like changing two- and three-year-old poop diapers isn’t for me.  (See all my posts about potty training Eliza at 23-months.)

So, Zach has used the pacifier to sleep since he was a newborn, and he just started sleeping 12-hour nights consistently a few weeks ago.  So the idea of weaning him from using it was looming over me like a storm cloud.  I didn’t want to lose my newfound seven straight-hours-of-sleep nights that have made me feel like a new woman.

Welcome to real life, where children younger than five get an average of seven infections a year and a bunch of viral colds on top of that.  A week ago Zach started hacking so badly it made him throw up.  For the first several nights of the sinus infection that has now infiltrated us all, I gave him his pacifier but he kept spitting it out.  He could not breathe with it in.  And finally, I just stopped giving it to him at all on Tuesday.  He has been pacifier-free since then.  Granted, he’s not sleeping great anyway because he’s sick, but I’m not planning on giving it back to him.  In the quest to get him well, I’m also fixing his pacifier addiction.  I was anticipating a difficult, drawn-out process, but this illness has forced me to have more sleepless nights, and presented the perfect opportunity to wean him because he can’t use it anyway.

I love it when things like this happen as a parent.  You can keep changing phases and stages so quickly that all you do is dread the next big thing.  The problem is you forget to remember all the progress you’ve made and all the things that end up not being a big deal.  It’s amazing that Eliza has mastered so many skills that seemed so onerous when they were on the horizon, such as feeding herself and using the bathroom by herself.

So with Zach, it’s amazing that he’s mastered things like smiling, feeding himself finger foods and crawling.  I don’t want to forget to be thankful that we’ve passed through these phases joyfully.

Now, if only there were a way illness could get him to walk.  Oh well.  One thing at a time.  It’s pretty hard to kill three birds with one stone.

The illusion of sleep

Last night was the first night since June 26th that I slept for 7 straight hours without moving.  Well, perhaps I moved, but you know what I mean.  (Incidentally, don’t ever expect to get good sleep on your first trip away from your kids if you’re at a college reunion, sharing a house with 16 other people.)

I didn’t get up to pee.  Nor did I get up to change Zach’s diaper, put a pacifier in his fussing mouth, or rub his back and make sure he had his blankies just how he likes them.  I didn’t spend time rocking or holding him to get him to go back to sleep.  I didn’t spend 2 hours dealing with one of Eliza’s night terrors that begins with screaming cries of “MOMMY COME!”  And I didn’t have to take her to the bathroom (because now that she uses the potty, she doesn’t ever want to use a diaper).

Nope, last night I slept like a baby.  (What a laughable phrase.)  And it got me thinking about sleep in general.  I find myself continuously hoping my sleep life will revert to what it was at a certain phase in my life.  It’s like how you always look back and wish you could just get back to your college weight once you’re out, but when you were in college, instead of appreciating how great you looked then, you wished you weighed what you did in high school.

For example, the best, most recent phase of sleep I had was between when Eliza was 4-months-old, when she was sleeping through the night and my boobs finally let me do the same, and when she was 8-months-old, when I got pregnant and immediately began having to get up at least once to pee.  I have not slept well since then.  And I thought at this point, with Zach being 7-months-old, that I would be in sleep heaven.  But on any night that Zach seems to make it all the way through, Eliza seems to wake.  And on the nights she sleeps well, Zach inevitably wakes.  Of course, there are the nights when one of them is so loud it wakes the other up as well.  That’s even more fun.

What I’m coming to realize is that just like I will never weigh what I weighed in high school or college again, I will never sleep like I did in those years again either.  I am realizing that I’m chasing a pipe dream of sleep.  Here’s how I know: I might not remember waking my mom as an infant or a toddler.  But I remember being 5- or 6-years-old and being scared of the leaves on our tree out my window that looked like the profile of a scary old man.  I remember going to get her several nights, and her lying in my bed with me to help me get to sleep.  I also remember when I was a teenager and my brother and I would come in from being out, and I would hear her finally relax enough to sleep tightly, knowing we were home.  And now, as a grandma, she’s here visiting, and she’s up when I’m up, offering to help so I can get some sleep.

It makes me realize that by the time I’m done raising kids who keep me awake, I STILL won’t be well rested because I will have to get up to pee (like when I was pregnant), or I’ll have back pain, or Greg will be snoring much more loudly.  Take your pick and fill in the blank.

So, I’m on a new mission.  I complain out loud and in my head – a lot – about not getting enough sleep.  Instead of letting it get to me, I’m going to be glad that once a month, I seem to get 7 straight hours of blissful wake-up-in-the-same-position-I-was-in-when-I-went-to-bed sleep.  And perhaps there will be more and more of those nights.  At least until Eliza starts dating.  Which won’t be for a long, long time.