Yesterday we snuck off to a little carnival in the next town over. We had driven by it for two days and the boys looked longingly at the lights and spinning metal. It was a really good choice to go! They loved it. While most rides were geared toward the older, more adventurous, and less prone to nauseous rider, there were 6 the little boys could do. They bounced and twirled along happily, although the little roller coaster gave them a bit of a scare. But their favorite ride of all was zooming down the super slider on a burlap sack. They both surprised me so much with what they were willing to try. They had both had their eye on that slide and I hesitated thinking there was no way they would climb the tall ladder let alone go down the slide itself. They proved to me that as a parent my job may be to keep them safe but it is also important to get out of their way so they can step out of their comfort zones all on their own! The night ended in ice cream and those are the best nights.
It has been said that a dog is man’s best friend, and “a dog teaches a boy fidelity, perseverance, and to turn around three times before lying down.” In our house, this is incredibly true. Since welcoming Henry into our lives, we have not been the best puppy parents. Henry’s needs have constantly come before our own and before our pups. He has laid a fog over our eyes in which we see only his little self and his little needs. And despite this negligence, Buster and Bella have been unflappable in their love for their less then mindful pack leaders. They continue to be love and loyalty personified.
In the middle of night when Henry chirps and squawks, the dogs cock their heads to the sound, confirm that the little man is being addressed by one of the humans, and return to slumber as best as they can. Just like the humans, they have not had one restful night since July. Yet, they remain ever present. They come to bed each night and brace for the restlessness. They warm the bed on chilly nights and occasionally lick an exposed leg or hand to remind us that they are there and there they shall remain. In the wee hours of the night, when I am awake with my little owl, I know I am not alone since their half-watchful eyes and their always ready to secure selves remain close by.
When I am frustrated that they are crowding the bed while I try to nurse Henry, a short “move, move, move” and Bella lumbers over to the end of the bed in order to make space for this unapologetic newcomer and her sometimes distraught and disheveled adult human . During the day when we aren’t always able to take them for walks, they head out back and make do with the yard. They romp about and play with each and return to the house and maintain their quiet, watchful place. When Henry is on the floor flaunting an interesting toy, they don’t rush ahead for it, they lay beside him, sometimes steal of lick of his little hand or of his toy. But, they know these are not their toys and instead wait for this little human to grow up into the boy who will chase them about the house. As a result of their condition, the dogs play a long waiting game. They wait for David and I to pet, cuddle, and play with them, they wait outside a lot longer these days while we wrangle the little man inside, they wait and wait for Henry to grow up. They are truly beautiful, wonderful, amazing pups. They have proven that despite their world being turned upside down by this pint size new ruler of the home, that they are calm, loving, patient little beasts.
and an “out take” because it is so darn cute and funny!
According to the app “wonder weeks,” Henry has just completed his stormy week. As he turns 3 months old, his body is focused on learning smooth transitions: coordinating his limbs, focusing his eyes, developing speech, and processing his surroundings. Since this is so much work for a little one, the app marks it as “stormy” because babies can be often quite fussy. Thankfully, Henry has been his usual jovial self. Yes, this time period may have affected his sleep which up until last week was merely Henry not sleeping at all. But, aside from the lack of sleep (which has gotten MUCH better) Henry has been a super curious, playful, and happy little guy. We joke that his laugh is like thunder and lightening. Right now he opens his mouth wide to give a hearty chuckle but there is not a sound. Perhaps like thunder, his laugh will soon follow his toothless smile. At lunch on Saturday, David had to change a blow out diaper and said that he heard the first true hearty laugh out of the little man! I am waiting patiently for a repeat performance.
This month marked my full return to work and Henry’s daytime care turning over to Mema’s capable hands. Mema and Henry are doing great together. Each morning my phone buzzes with picture updates, as Mema reads stories, plays on the mat, feeds and swaddles him for naps, and helps Henry practice rolling over. I love coming home and asking Mema, “How was your day?” and she replies, “Oh it was wonderful. We did all of our activities together.” At the same time, it is hard being away each day. Leaving in the morning continues to rip out my heart and I still cry most mornings on the drive in. The consolation is knowing that Henry is having a wonderful time at home with Mema who loves him so very much. Under her supervision, he has started to really respond to conversation and is determined to roll over. A few “accidental” rolls have occurred. Then finally last night, while I was working my epic long night on campus, Henry did it. He rolled, and rolled, and rolled for Mema and Pepa. This left us all in a little panic. We were planning to wean Henry from his swaddle this weekend but had to do it cold turkey now that he could flip himself over. He must have been ready for the release of his arms during sleep because he slept great despite the new sensations and freedom.
The best part of this month may just be the sounds that Henry makes. He loves to lay down and stare up at you and just coo and shriek and babble. I know he has to grow up but I wish I could just savor these moments longer!! This may just be my most favorite month yet, really. His little personality continues to develop and he is such a flirt! He practices his grin, coy smile, and even his frown. And while he obviously cannot speak yet, these expressions really do fill the home. It is not a far stretch to imagine him chatting at the dinner table.
Henry is starting to grab and reach for things and this includes holding onto your clothes as you cuddle and sway him. He loves playing with his rattles, although sometimes he gets carried away and whacks himself in the face. And, he loves watching the dogs play. Right now we have four dogs in the house: Buster, Bella, Daisy, and Blaise. Each of these little beasts wants to be near Henry at all times. While this can be a little frustrating since they don’t quite understand their own strength, it does come from a place of curiosity and Henry is equally curious about these fuzzy creatures who like to stick their wet noses on his cheeks. With a little assistance, Henry pets each of his furry friends.
His morning and evening routines seem to be developing as well. My alarm goes off at 5AM and I head into the shower to get ready for work. By 5:30AM, Henry is awake and David plays and cuddles him in bed until I finish. Then I take over from 5:45-6:00AM and play in bed with Henry while David showers and gets ready. Then around 6:05AM we all head downstairs. My mom joins us and makes coffee for the adults while David plays with Henry in the living room. I pack up my bags for school, eat some breakfast, and then snuggle the little guy so David can do the same. We usually have 15-20 minutes all together in the living room before it is time to said our goodbyes for work. At night, recently, Henry has started his bedtime routine at 7PM with a bath. Then it is pj time, reading, snuggles, a fresh diaper, a last meal, a little swaying and down for bed. While he doesn’t sleep completely through the night the new pattern is to sleep until 12:30AM and then get up again around 3:30AM and then 5:30AM. And, our little man is about 15lbs and 25.5 inches and barely fitting in size 3 months!
This month Henry is:
Remember when I posted about how Henry was a sleep champion? Yea….that’s over. Our little man has decided that he is no longer sleepy and much more interested in the world around him. Of course, this was inevitable but it is still a little sad to say good bye to those beautiful long 4 and 5 hour sleep stretches. Now, I am thrilled if we get 2 hours of consecutive sleep! The decline of sleep coincided with my return to work. Isn’t that how it always goes? I am left wondering why this is and how exactly this can be “corrected” (if it can).
Really, I just wish I had enough energy to observe our situation more. With Henry, we have discovered that if we observe him and really watch his cues, we are usually able to “crack” the code. Unfortunately, I am just SO tired. It wasn’t so bad after the first week of sleep deprivation but now heading into our third week of inconsistent sleep, I feel it in my bones. My mind is in a perpetual cloud. Things hurt that I never knew could hurt so badly, like my lumbar, my neck, and eyelids. Yes, my eyelids actually hurt, probably because those eyelid muscles are working so hard to keep my eyes open, right? In the middle of the night when Henry cries, my initial thought is, “Whose baby is crying?” Then once the sleep fogs lifts a bit I realize where I am. But, it is always so funny to me that I forget in my delirious sleep state.
It is amazing how many “second winds” you get in a single day. Just when I think I cannot stop myself from falling head over heels to the ground for a snooze wherever it is I am standing in that moment, then a surge of wild energy hits. Clearly, it is this wild energy that has sustained parents throughout generations of sleepless babies. But you have to be careful about this energy. It fades as quickly as it arrives and while it fades you may find that your mind, thoughts, and speech, which seem sharp one minute, turn to mush the next. Sitting with my advisees, I ask, “Who attended the leadershit conference this year?” Laughing their heads off, they ask, “What!??” and I reply, “What?” Yup, I had no idea that my mouth had forsaken me and in trying to retrieve the correct vocabulary misfired swapping a “t” for a “p”. There I was thinking I was asking a clear question and starting up a nice dialogue when in fact my body was shutting down and there was nothing I could do to stop it!
Even David is walking around in a zombie-like trance. One minute he is awake on the couch cuddling Henry and the next he too is resting his eyes. So what do we do? Seriously, what do we do? Yes, this phase will pass and as my friend noted: David and I will get accustomed to living and operating “light and lean.” But, I wonder if the issue stems from Henry’s swaddle a.k.a. his sleep crutch. He might be in limbo right now. He seems to still want to be swaddled in order to fall asleep but he also is fighting against the swaddle. His startle reflex is still very apparent though and leaving his arms out free wakes him. I think we need to wean Henry from his swaddle and get him to a place where he can fall asleep without his baby straight jacket. And…..we need to practice this whole, “lay baby down while sleepy and not asleep” so that he learns how to put himself to sleep and isn’t also dependent on swinging and swaying. So fellow parents, can you have mercy on the weary and share your sleep tips or advice?