We’ve had fabulous weather over the last couple of weeks: gorgeous sunny days with a crispy winter edge. We’ve explored more of the tracks in Herbert Forest, and Husband’s been out fishing with Agent of Death twice. I want to take Finn out in the boat to get him used to sailing, since it would be awful if he ended up with Andrew’s stomach (forcibly ejects contents when a duck paddles past). Her Goatiness is horrified by the prospect, being of the opinion you can’t train a baby to grow a pair of sea-legs.
The Boo turned 12 weeks last Thursday and appears to have grown again overnight – it might have been Monday or Tuesday.
He spends much more time awake now and is generally a happy go lucky little fella, quite content to squirm around his mat, kicking his legs, gnawing his fists, gurgling, chatting away or working out complex algorithms in his head. His pure, gummy grin would make me weep for joy if I didn’t get a grip. When he’s like this, I love his company; there’s nobody else in the world I’d prefer to spend time with.
BUT THEN, in the early evening he turns into Tiny Monster; kind of a miniature version of The Incredible Hulk – only in red. Over the last few days his scream has evolved/mutated into a screech that wilts the plants at the top of the drive. He can occasionally be pacified with dancing, but I just don’t have the energy or, for that matter, the moves or hand-eye coordination.
Furthermore, he had grown accustomed to falling asleep on top of me. When he was younger, I was fairly confident Finn was down if he didn’t wake up within 15 minutes. However, it got to the point where I’d carefully peel him off my shoulder, lower him slooowly into his carry-cot; and even if I managed to avoid whacking him on the hood, his eyes would snap open the moment his head hit the mattress. Then he’d declaim my bitter betrayal at length.
A couple of weeks ago I decided it was time to put some shape on Finn’s routine. That sort of carry-on was simply not to be tolerated. What our household needed was discipline, regulations, boundaries, possibly smacking. I’m sure I read somewhere that spanking babies to sleep can be most effective.
I approached the project with confidence: put Finn down when he was still awake, and clearly communicated my expectation that he would fall asleep. Which he did – after crying for an hour and a half.
I know those of the old school of child-rearing basically stored their babies in a box in the fridge, firm in the conviction they were hardening us up – and I admire that. Truly, I will do whatever it takes if I think it is the right thing.
But I can’t reconcile my baby spending that long crying himself to sleep.
I could argue that he was never in any serious distress: the wail never reached a grade above outrage. But then, he was hardly crying from an abundance of glee. And it just . . . doesn’t seem like a nice way to spend an hour and a half. As I can verify, since I spent most of that time in tears myself.
So then I tried the same thing, only I set the oven timer every five minutes and basically sat there nibbling my knuckles and twitching, watching the seconds count down until I’d rush to soothe him: rock his carry-cot, sing to him, pick him up if necessary.
The process took another hour and a half. My son really has remarkable stamina.
Finn having blasted my logic (i.e. tired = sleep), I did some research and decided to try the pick up/put down method championed by The Baby Whisperer Who’s Dead. Although it borders the vicinity of healing-crystals up the yoni, I evidently didn’t have the chops for Special Forces Sleep. Motherhood is teaching me a lot about myself, including that contrary to my own self-image (determined, bitchy, kind of chilling on occasion) I might actually be something of a wuss.
The pick up/put down method involves picking your child up as soon as he cries then, when he stops, lovingly yet firmly returning him to his cot until he falls asleep – the idea being that eventually any horizontal configuration of child results in instant sleep. ‘The first time it might take 30 pick up/put downs’, stated a website.
Well, over the course of an hour I lost count how many times I plucked The Boo out of his cot. It got to the stage where he’d resume crying as soon as I laid him back down; then upon reclining him as much as half a degree; until he was basically roaring all the time.
So that blowed.
We finally reached a compromise, whereby I relaxed and stopped forcing my poor son to sleep, and Finn often does. I’ve learned to read Finn’s cues that he’s tiring. When he starts bitchin’ I flip him onto his stomach; when he head-butts the floor I feed him, check his nappy, then put him down. If he’s still awake after five minutes, I pick him up and cuddle him or, depending what noise he’s making, rock the cot and/or sing him some Neil Diamond. If he’s still grizzling after another five minutes, I recheck his nappy, then return him to his cot. If a final stint fails, Finn wins and I try to be a gracious loser. No, really. I just train harder for the next battle.
It’s only in the last couple of weeks that I’ve felt as if I’m getting a grip on my child and his rhythms.
Apologies for the angle on this video; I took it myself while Finn was on his change table first thing in the morning. However, he frowns at the camera, so I had to hold it off to one side while I distracted him.