Constant Revision

Maybe I shouldn’t be so optimistic when I write about baby sleep stuff. Because as soon as I’m all, “Oh hey, he’s taking two good naps a day, one in the morning and one in the afternoon and even though we seem to be playing the evenings by ear, he seems like he might be heading toward a routine,” suddenly it’s not happening anymore, and also? The nights have become completely insane, too.

At first this week it seemed that the days when he actually napped significantly were the nights when he barely slept. Or at least, I barely slept. So when he didn’t really nap well, he didn’t wake up in the night until about 4:30am. That was good, but it meant that I had a couple of pretty long days in there. But this theory, too, was only in its very forming before he didn’t nap much yesterday and then didn’t sleep well at all last night. There were a couple hours there, between one of his wakings and the next, when I could do nothing but lie there and listen to my husband snore. Which is not nearly as glamorous as it sounds.

The books say that better naps encourage better night-time sleep. That babies need a bunch of sleep to grow well and thrive. They also suggest that a routine is good for them, especially once they reach this age. But the breastfeeding gurus say that between four and six months is when they are growing a whole lot and to continue feeding at whim to keep the milk supply up. Ergo, it’s actually NOT a good time to get them on a schedule at all.

Sigh.

Unfortunately, all this conflicting advice is accompanied by the stipulation that every baby is completely unique, and only you know your individual baby, which you know, is totally helpful when the only thing you know is that in the daylight hours, your baby seems like one of those incredibly adaptable children who wouldn’t mind if you tossed him in a burlap sack and took a pogo stick halfway across the country to see your family; but after sunset, when everyone’s exhausted and short-fused, he arches and squirms and protests the thought of doing anything that conflicts with his own arching, kicking and crying agenda.

I do feel like I am getting to know my baby somewhat better, lately. But even though I can tell when he’s tired, hungry or wet, it’s often through trial and error or sheer luck that I manage to address the right issue on time (if I do actually manage to do it after all). When I was talking to the pediatrician, he said that it’s best to know why a baby is doing something before trying to change what a baby is doing. So how does one go about finding that answer?
Why can’t these little creatures come with their own personalized instruction manuals? Or at least an outline? Crib notes? Bullet points? Road signs? Anything at all a parent out just a little bit? God? What do you say, could you get on that one for me? Thanks.

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