Bedtime routines

Bedtime: (n.) sometimes a verb too..

  • The perfect time to ask meaning of life questions, to take multiple trips to the bathroom, to request food & a couple of different kinds of drinks in varying cup distribution methods, to require additional nightlights, to request a full musical of songs, and to give heart-melting amounts of cuddles.

But silliness aside, we are pretty lucky with the routine-ness of our bedtime routine with the little dudes.  Each night around 7ish, it sort of depends on a weeknight versus a weekend night and what sort of fun shenanigans we are up to as a family, we clean up the playroom together and march ourselves upstairs. The boys either take a bath or slip into their pajamas and nowadays they get themselves potty-ed and dressed which is pretty stupendous. We chit chat about our day and share our favorite moments and then there are some stories piled next to the chair and a snuggle and a trip into the imaginative world of Paddington or Curious George or another fantastic heroine/hero before we head to Owen’s room for the first slumberland express drop-off. Three songs are on this little man’s daily list: ABCs, I Love You, and How Much is that Doggie (because he is crazy for all things dog related). Then it is time for a little tuck in to bed. Owen nestles under his crotchet blanket, requests that he is surrounded by this three stuffies, and then gets one last lullaby before it is kisses and lights out. Next door, his big brother follows a similar routine. Laying in his big kid bed, David and I sandwich him with hugs and sing three songs of his choosing. Sometimes he picks the exact same ones as Owen, and sometimes he chooses something new or something we have to create on the spot like “The Mr. Potato Head Song.” And then he too gets his final lullaby, kisses, and squeeze and lights out.

But what happens after this is far cuter in mine eyes. At some point in the evening, probably right after we leave Owen’s room, he has one final element to his bedtime routine. He gets up and tosses out every blanket and stuffy he had just two minutes before needed placed in its “perfect spot.” Then with nothing but a naked bedsheet he settles in, tucking his arms in under his body, and facing down in to the mattress. It looks a little bleak and the position is a little scary, but he seems to find comfort in this very simple final sleep routine element. Henry too emerges himself from the covers and flips upside down on his bed with only his precious “Maggie dog” alongside of him. Neither child wants a blanket or the “correct orientation” and I love to sneak in and steal one final peek at the boys before going to bed myself, just to confirm they each flipped and flopped into their preferred position.  It is so cute the ways in which they settle themselves for the long night’s rest until they open their eyes at promptly 5AM to start their new morning…

the end of the era of binky

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There is a name that cannot be mentioned.

Binky.

As long as we don’t say this name out out, fingers crossed, I think we did it. We successfully weaned Henry of this binky ways.

Obviously, he shouldn’t head off to college with a binky habit, but the idea of getting rid of the binky seemed like a fate worse than death. We were all sleeping SO well. After dinner, was pj time, followed by stories, a kiss and a hug, and binky in the mouth, and off to sleep Henry went from 6:30PM to 6AM. During this magical time, David and I had the place to ourselves. We wildly would hang out, snuggle, make dinner, catch up on “Making a Murderer” or the “Bachelor” and get some much needed uninterrupted shut-eye. Why would we ever intentionally end this?

At Henry’s 18 month appointment on January 2, our pediatrician recommended weaning the binky before the new baby arrives in April. I sat in that appointment and sheer panic rose up inside of me, what?!? I thought you were going to listen to his heart, weigh and measure him and let me continue to just be this stellar parent (haha)! You are telling me, that the thing that has gotten us to sleep beautifully is now the enemy. Say it isn’t so! After the appointment, I contemplated  whether to share this information with David or withhold the pediatrician’s recommendation in order to secure my bedtime. Obviously, I had to tell David, but I knew he would bite the bullet before I could and move us toward binky removal.

And, he did.

David was ready to start right away with “Henry’s New Year’s Resolution” to be binky free in 2016. I begged to wait for a long weekend. At least then we could salvage some sleep because we both knew HOW in LOVE with his binky Henry was. And he not only had one binky but he had 8 scattered about his crib. A complete smorgasbord of binky for the little man. The one thing to our advantage was that Henry mostly kept his binky habit to the crib, we had stopped letting him take it all day long and reserved it for naps and sleep. Thank goodness.

Martin Luther King, Jr. Weekend arrived and David had a dream that Henry would go cold turkey on the binky. I was hesitant and sweaty and scared to say the least.

Day 1: David is home alone with Henry for nap time. Removes said binky from crib. It is a struggle. Henry calls for his friends, begs for his friends, but the sleep monster finally takes him. At night, we battle for an hour. Every 10 minutes, David or I go in, pat his back and listen to our little baby call out for his binky buddies.

Day 2: I am ready to crack. Naps don’t seem to be too horrible, but this night is atrocious. From 6:30PM-8:30PM Henry is inconsolable. His binky has forsaken him. In 10 minute shifts David and I rotate in. I talk to him quietly and pat his back, he will lay down and settle and close his eyes, but the second I leave the room he is up and crying again. Have we created a new sleep issue? I am BEYOND second guessing myself. David holds firm, reminds me that it will get better and takes over the shift work.

Day 3: What is that a light at the end of the tunnel? Instead of two hours of utter sadness, Henry is asleep (probably because he is so darn tired) after an hour of back pats and quiet mumblings every 10 minutes.

Day 4: The habit is “kicked.” This is the first night he doesn’t mention the word binky as we lower him into his crib, this is the first night he doesn’t cry out. Instead he stands in his crib and stares at the door (we can see him on the monitor). He watches the door and rests his head on the crib rail. Then after 20 minutes he lays down and goes to sleep.

Day 5: We all sleep.

My fingers and toes are crossed that this is indeed all it will take to be purged of the binky. I worry though that there could be a regression, but mostly I am really proud of Henry. He went from a little dude surrounded by binky love to a little dude who no longer needs his beloved to fall asleep and that is no easy task for such a little guy. I am also really impressed with David. He totally understood what to do, stayed calm, loving, and supportive. He helped Henry and me. Maybe I was more attached to the binky than anyone else in the house. David deserves all the credit on this transition. He kept me sane, and truly comforted his son without ever wavering in his intention or his love. It was a painful 5 days, but now we are sans binky!

Cheddar, Broccoli, Potato Frittata

A lot of mommies will tell you to eat what you crave, it’s a way of your body “telling” you want it wants while growing that little human. I like this idea although I am not entirely sure it is true. Those times when I was craving Sour Patch Kids did my body really want sugar to compensate for a deficiency, or was I just being a hungry mom-to-be in that moment? Gray area, perhaps?

Truthfully though most of my cravings have not been for “junk” food which has been helpful. And right now, I cannot seem to get enough eggs. So on this rainy Boston day, while Henry naps, I cooked up a delicious cheddar, broccoli, potato frittata by Sarah Waldman. It hit the spot and I am not sure if I can care it with anyone else!

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the funny thing about STTN

Every parent waits for the day that the baby sleeps through the night. And I have to admit there were so many times in the wee hours of the morning while I nursed Henry and my head bobbed and weaved from sleep that I would have given anything for one perfect night of uninterrupted sleep. My fantasies since motherhood have all included this dream of perfect sleep. There I am in my pajamas pulling back the covers, getting in under the snugly sheets, closing my eyes, and the next frame of this fantasy is me waking up on my own with just a hint of sunlight streaming in on my face! AH! The beauty of a full night of sleep was tantalizing and taunting. I knew what it was. I had been to that promised land of sleep prior to the days of Henry. Would I ever get there again? The days of motherhood are very short but the nights can be so long. Really I should not complain, Henry has been a very good sleeper for a baby. For the first four months of his life, he was capable of stretches of 2, 3, 4, and sometimes even 5 hours of sleep. Technically 5 hours of sleep is sleeping through the night. But from 6PM-11PM wasn’t ideal for my sleeping. Then there was the dark time of unswaddling that left us with 2 hour stretches on a good night. This was a temporary blip and we settled into a nice pattern of sleep for the next few months of bedtime at 6:30PM, a nursing snack at 10PM and then again 4AM and a wake up around 6:30AM. This was sustainable and pleasant and even though I still pined for my uninterrupted night, this was doable. At 9 months on the dot the 10PM feeding faded away. Left with only my 4AM wake-up, I was sleep drunk most mornings and started to panic. Oh no, what will I do when Henry no longer nurses at night? Despite the “hardship” of waking up, once I am in his nursery, settled into our glider, holding my baby in my arms, and caressing his face while he nurses, I am on the moon. The sweetness nourishes me and I feel more like a mother in this moment then in any other of the day. I was not ready to lose this. But I was not the one to decide. Henry is now (fingers crossed) sleeping through the night entirely. From 7PM to 7AM, his rest in undisturbed. And don’t get me wrong, it is amazing to sleep. I love being reacquainted with my bed, sheets, and slumber. But, but, but I miss our quiet moments at night, our little snuggles that belonged only to us. I miss this part of mommyhood at the same time that I am ready for the next phase.  Sleeping through the night (STTN) is beautiful but it also means Henry is growing up and there is no stopping that!

an epic nap

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After work on Wednesday,  I brought Henry upstairs to my bedroom while I changed out of my work clothes. He was laying on the bed babbling to me while Buster and Bella were pacing around the bed. Suddenly, Henry started to get fussy. At first, my immediate response was to “change the scenery.”  Now that Henry is slightly more mobile he loves to “move” more and being stationary isn’t really an option. But, bringing him into my arms, his fussiness didn’t subside. Problem-solving Henry is usually easy. Most often, the fussiness is for: a change of activity, hunger, sleepiness, or a diaper. This time, it just so happened to be sleepiness. While I nursed him on the bed, Henry kept nodding off. It was so sweet watching him fall asleep in my arms. But, I have to confess, I have never nursed him while laying down. It just has never seemed like a natural position. With my sleepy baby in my arms, I thought I would try it. Carefully, I laid down on the bed with Henry on my side. And he napped. As I was in my pajamas, I closed my eyes and savored this super snuggly, beautiful moment with my son. My eyes opened every few minutes to take him in and I just could not get over how beautiful this was.

Of course, everything in the house was against us! As we lay there in the growing darkness, Buster was the first to try to upset the moment. He jumped on and off the bed, paced around the room, and even let out a bark as a truck drove by. Then it was Bella’s turn. She grabbed a bone and brought it to the bed and started to gnaw loudly on it. I waited with baited breath to see if the nap spell would break. Henry held on to his quiet slumber. Then from downstairs, Blaise started to howl and bang up against his crate. Hearing the pups upstairs, he eagerly sought to play with them and therefore held the nap in the balance. His enthusiasm woke up Daisy who joined in his choir of howls.  Tenuously, Henry remained asleep beside me. After the two longest minutes, the house fell silent and I confidently thought, “Ah, now we can relax into the nap for real.” No sooner was this thought made, then my parents came home from an errand opening up the garage. Again the cacophony of dog noises erupted! This time, Henry was jolted from his slumber, but he didn’t cry. He merely smiled up at me and my heart melted.