Letters to Harrison,  Parenting

Harrison (Used to) Sleep Great

I have a complex relationship with sleep, Harrison. I have appreciated it, gone without it, struggled to achieve it, and coveted it. I hope you inherit the gift of being able to sleep like your father.

You are a predictable guy

So far your sleep patterns are something I’ve come to appreciate. I am not a routine-committed person, and I find it amazing that despite this you have developed your own.

Oh boy, have you! From the day you were born you have been predictable to within minutes. Those first three weeks at home, you slept all the time (as newborns tend to). Among the overwhelming chaos of being new parents, me and your dad would strategize wakeful periods with sleep and feeding so that you could be awake  to meet your new friends and family. Through the night however? No strategy ever required. Your nighttime patterns were, and still are, comparable to those first weeks. I laugh each month as I fill out your baby book, because “how does baby sleep?” is for the eighth month in a row filled in with one word: “Same”.

10pm, 2am, 6am. Every. Night. Doing that for nine months one could envision exhaustion, but at this point I find comfort in your predictability.

Your Dad shares the burden

Your father has several times been assigned to night-shift feeds so that I can indulge in a full night’s sleep myself. He has done it with loving intentions, which is important, because for me it goes like this: You wake me with a rousing shout for attention, and build up to a full throated cry. It transmits down the short hallway between your room and ours, amplified through the baby monitor beside my head. The noise ascends in volume when un-attended to (I typically catch you somewhere around the “rousing shout” stage).

When your father is on “watch”, this still consists of me waking and listening to your alarming progression until I realize: No, the frantic calls of his child will not in fact wake your father. He is then usually woken in a more…”physical” way by me. I then lay there for whatever duration it may be while your dad retrieves the milk (feels like a decade, at this point you are still wailing). Your milk is heated either by the the approved method (hot-water bath, which by the way, takes FOREVER), or the less recommended microwave (which renders my breastmilk roughly the temperature of boiling magma, and must then cool).

Sometimes while I lay awake in this scenario (you crying still in your crib), your dad pauses for a minute to go take a pee. Priority-wise, this gets me seething, because the purpose of this is for me to get some sleep, and if he is PEEING, what urgency is he applying to quiet you, and thus let me get some sleep. Following this, we add 20-odd minutes to bottle feed (once optimum milk temperature is acchieved), and your dad, lacking biologically-functional breasts will spend about 45 minutes from bed-up to bed-down. I could have fed you three times in that duration, and as such have just accepted night feeds as my domain.

Out and about

Our small nap time routine is a very portable one, well utilized in those first days of my cabin-fever. We had to leave the house at least once a day for my sanity, and at the first sign of rubbing eyes, your “chooch” (pacifier) got popped in and on would go the portable sound machine. The kicker, however: NO EYE CONTACT! You would happily accept your fate and doze on to sleepy-time, unless someone should happen to catch your eye….it’s like you would suddenly realize everything you might miss out on by sleeping…SERIOUS “FOMO”. That happens less these days, and unlike many kids, you don’t often pass out in your carseat, which thankfully gives me the opportunity to get you home and into your crib.

What. Do. You. Want?!

The repeated statement when sharing my pregnancy with the world was “good luck ever sleeping again”. I took that to heart, truly expecting that for the next 2 years of my life I was condemned to wake on the hour every night, and would soon learn to get by on a daily 4 hours of sleep. Imagine my surprise when I would wake at 8 am with you each morning feeling blissfully rested, having missed perhaps an hour of total combined sleep. I was overly self-righteous by how consistently well your sleep patterns endured (annoyingly so, looking back at myself now, I deserved to be put in my place).

Once established, daytime naps followed the night, and the 9 am-12 pm-3 pm schedule has endured until very recently. Lately, to my confusion I’m left wondering “Will it be two naps or three today?”. It’s a simple question, really, but with severe consequences if I miss-judge.

The days of blissfully predictable nap-times have taken a hiatus and we are currently amid a “Charlie-Foxtrot” of duration, timing, and compliance. Last week you got up at 4 am for the day (I know for some this is normal, but for me? Oh, the horror!).

Tuesday, both naps were 2 and a half hours.

Yesterday? You flat out refused to sleep at all until 3 pm for 45 mins.

Then there’s this morning, where I desperately breastfed you back to sleep 4 times between 4 and 6:30 so that I too could go back for more Z’s. I have given up trying to read our day, and accept that our daily activities are going to get “messy”.

Blissfull night’s rest while spooning a small angel:

I have wanted to co-sleep with you from the beginning- if only I could lay with you and facilitate comforting sleep, you nestled in my warm embrace. Why won’t you co-sleep with us, dammit? Other than when necessitated by travel, I can count on my hands the number of times we have brought you to bed with us. Other than the time you projectile puked breast milk all over our fitted sheet, you do typically become quite pleasant upon joining us. That’s pleasant: playtime, not pleasant: blissful sleep. You giggle, laugh, rock, roll over. We receive hands in faces, bonked heads, and in your dad’s case lose small fistfuls of chest hair. You are an independent guy, and I suppose as such prefer an independent sleep.

And here we are

I could accept all of your current sleep eccentricities more if I could identify the root of the problem. Is it teething? Sleep regression? Overtired? Undertired? Impending milestone? Presently, we are amidst a wonder week (or, rather, a wonder month if you follow such things). According to the app on my phone, this leap will end on February 10. I am clutching at that small tidbit of unsubstantiated data, because this needs to end soon. THANKS TO GOD when it does- and hopefully in that timeframe, because February 11 we leave for New Zealand.

And naps there?

Right now, I shudder at the thought.


I had a “winning-mom” moment while washing your hair yesterday. You slipped forward and bonked your cheek on the faucet. I tried to engage my lightning fast reflexes and catch your face to prevent a rebound-bonk…and I did so by grabbing your entire face with a palm full of shampoo suds. I’ll bet the only thing better than a fresh bruise your face is a fresh bruise on your face AND soap in your eyes. Sorry.

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