My beautiful and brilliant daughter has successfully navigated the first 11 months of her life, often times in spite of her full-time caretaker. Thankfully, skulls are pretty solid. Now only one month sits between her and the Big 0-1. We’re looking forward to her first birthday party so she can see all the older kids and so mommy and daddy can figure out all the stuff that isn’t toddler-proofed yet.
Listen up, pal! I don’t care who you know or how long you drove or what your dad does to put food in your whiny little mouth. You’re not on the list. And if you’re not on the list, you’re not gettin in. Capisce? Comprende? Yo ablo anglais? No list-o!
As all new parents do, I live daily with the confidence that something I do either directly or indirectly will result in my daughter’s brain damage. In 35 years, she’ll be working third shift at the Gas N Go or maybe only become the first female vice-president and I’ll be able to pinpoint the exact day that either by neglect or gross recklessness, I caused her brain damage. And I’ll think to myself – or more likely say out loud to a therapist – “Man, Mabel really could have been something if only it wasn’t for _____.”
Maybe I was tweeting and didn’t realize she could climb the stairs yet. Maybe I underestimated my strength during a round of superbaby. Or maybe all that dice I had been playing, leaving her on the bed while refilling her bottle in the sink, would finally come up seven.
For the uninitiated, the baby dive bomb is one of the biggest motivating factors behind the need to sleep train babies. Even if you like having your baby sleep with you, it becomes dangerous once they know how to crawl. I was no longer able to sleep in my own bed if she was in there for fear that she’d wake up and find her way to the end of the bed and lemming herself off, filling in that blank. I started to sleep – or at least lay down – in the shape of an “L” so that between me, my wife and the headboard, we had all four sides covered. But then I just lay awake uncomfortably contorted in the shape of an L. And putting the mattress on the ground is such a pain on an adult’s back, getting up and down, often while cleaning and jerking 20 pounds (that sounded a lot dirtier than I meant it to). Not to mention, it doesn’t solve the problem, it only lessens the maximum amount of brain damage that could occur. It’s not like babies know how to get off mattresses instinctively. Our mattress is now on the floor and just the other night, Mabel crawled right off without breaking stride like an Oompa Loompa. One that lands on her head. Thankfully, it’s now only an 11 inch drop and she didn’t lose consciousness, which is my new barometer of how guilty I should feel and whether or not I should take her to the hospital. But let me tell you why our mattress is on the ground.
A few months ago, I was refilling Mabel’s bottle and since she started crawling, I’d run out to check on her after every step. Rinse the bottle, check. Fill up with 2 ounces of water, check. Add formula, check. Well, I had put Mabel in a makeshift baby jail, made out of pillows and blankets I stuffed around her, so I had at least the requisite 30 seconds to do all those steps uninterrupted. When I finished and walked out of the bathroom, I found Mabel on the far edge of the bed, reaching for my night stand. How the hell did she break out of pillow jail? That’s when I thought to myself “This is it. This is the brain damage.” I am quite proud of the dive that I made to grab her, dropping whatever it was that I was carrying without thinking. I had always hoped that would be my reaction in this situation, but I know on occasions when I’ve REALLY needed to swerve out of the way of a car that doesn’t know the rules of left-turning etiquette, I’m reluctant to drop my McFlurry first. Suffice to say, I got to her mere microseconds before the brain damage. This time.
Since then, I developed a little makeshift contraption out of my belt and a 10-pound weight to temporarily prevent the baby dive bomb. I don’t recommend using it for longer than a minute or two, and anything under 10 pounds is just kind of asking for it, but it should keep your baby from those pesky edges of the bed long enough for you to make her a bottle of formula. You can try to shower if you want, but don’t complain to me when he or she gets the brain damage because of a bad knot or a Herculean baby effort. There are therapists for that.
What’s the point of it all? You wake up, poop, nap, eat, poop, nap, eat, sleep and do it all again. What does it all mean? What is my purpose? Why can’t I go outside? Where do cats come from? Why can’t I walk already? I’m tired.
Have you guys read this yet? I can’t put it down! It’s a riveting story about a monkey with a brief cameo by a cow that says moo. But it’s not about the story. It’s not very plot driven at all. In fact, it’s very Letter M driven. I need to know what else has this author done. Also, it tastes fantastic.
Are we leaving anytime soon?
Sorry to the regulars about my lack of posting recently. Finals are finally over and I will stop neglecting this website like I’ve been neglecting my daughter in recent weeks to get this crap done. And I’m going to start posting more pictures. Here’s Mabel with a book she wasn’t supposed to read.
Wait a minute! Let the baby cry it out as long as it takes?! Daddy, we need to have a talk.
Mabel has a new trick where she runs for the door whenever it opens, much like her kitty sisters. Only this is way cuter and easier to coral afterwards.
Happy 10 month birthday, Bunnyhead.
In lieu of writing about my daughter’s increasingly disruptive sleep patterns, I spent yesterday writing an essay about the bombings at the Boston Marathon. One that I’m not exactly happy with and probably won’t publish anywhere. And that’s fine. It came from the heart, but it just felt too self-serving to show anybody else. The world is filled today with people using the bombings for their own political, social and religious agendas and I’d prefer not to be a part of that. My piece was supposed to be about how this has affected me as a father of a 9-month-old daughter. Rather than try to rewrite it to not sound as wooden, I’ll strip it for parts. Here are the couple thoughts I had that I think are worth sharing.
- I’m thankful my daughter is of an age where she doesn’t understand what happened and I don’t have to figure out how to explain it to her. I’m not there yet and I don’t envy anyone who is.
- This bomb was placed in the stands and set to go off at the four-hour mark. This guy knew there would likely be kids and families in the line of fire. That’s a real messed up kind of sickness.
- I’m happy so many people enjoyed what Patton Oswald said on facebook about how the good people outnumber the bad and we always will. And he had some eloquently presented points, but I never really felt that we didn’t outnumber the bad people. This was never an issue for me. But I’m still happy so many others found something about it that helped.
- I’m sick of people saying that we will come back from this stronger. Maybe that makes some people feel better, but I feel like it’s the most disingenuous phrase out there. This was a terrible tragedy committed by someone who got his wires crossed and that sucks. Hopefully we catch him and there are less sickos in the future. That’s actually something from Patton’s diatribe, so I guess it did have an effect on me.
- I’m not going to let this stop Mabel from experiencing things of the like. I’m just going to pray to the God of probability that this doesn’t happen to us. She’ll just have to learn that there are people who don’t value life like they should and cannot ever put themselves in the shoes of someone else because they are too self-absorbed. I look forward to the day where she understands that.
Congrats to Mabel, who came in 4th of 27 in our Tournament Challenge pool, beating daddy and mommy and finished in the 79th percentile nationwide, proving that any idiot picking up random blocks to fill out their bracket has just as good a chance as anybody else.
And my daughter will beat that idiot four out of five times.
Saturday, March 16th (Day Two of REAL sleep training)
I almost had to abort Day Two of sleep training because Mabel was acting weird. Kind of like how you can’t operate on someone who has the flu. She wasn’t facemashing nearly as much as normal during the first feeding phase, nor were her eyes shutting uncontrollably. These are my two go-to signs that she’s tired. Because of this, I extended the reading phase by Horton Hears a Who, which added about 15 minutes. She was climbing over me, around me and grabbing my glasses by the time that ended and looked tired enough for me to continue with the second day of this experiment.
Despite the Phase Three facemashing, she seemed wide awake and content when I put her in the crib. Which was good and bad. She normally protests being put in there even before I leave. This time there was no protest, but there was also no hint of sleepiness. As I type this right now, I am 8 minutes into my strategic neglect and I can hear her making noises, but not crying. I put Walter the Puffkin (her second favorite toy (the remote is #1)) in the crib with her to keep her company. Instead of counteracting the crying, it may have counteracted the tired. It’s possible she actually enjoys being alone, which is fine. Encouraging, actually. I would just rather that she sleep instead.
The Day Two Sleep Training Timeline:
13 minutes: She has now started crying. This has made me actually feel better somehow.
16 minutes: The crying stopped. I went upstairs to check to make sure her blanket and/or pillow hadn’t fallen down, preventing her from lying down comfortably. They hadn’t.
18 minutes: This is the last whimper I heard from her. But I fear that she has just gone back to playing temporarily rather than sleeping. But I’ve decided this should not be on my list of things to be worried about.
Sunday, March 17th (Day Three of REAL sleep training)
Things have been going so well the first two nights, I decided I would just go into our section of the bedroom instead of downstairs to live blog the event on facebook. It turns out those screams are much louder when there isn’t a door or two between us. I expected after last night that the screaming would only last 5 minutes, but when it was still going strong at 10 minutes, I figured I may have made a mistake. I stayed anyway, much like how Donovan McNabb stayed on the field to watch the Patriots celebrate their Superbowl so he could remember how it felt and let that motivate him to be better. Only he never won a Superbowl, which makes this a crappy analogy.
But I should know our baby better than that. After 12 minutes, the screaming stopped. I went to peek on her to make sure she was asleep. I cursed the creaks both the floor and my 38-year-old legs were making, often time not being able to distinguish between them. She was asleep of course. And unlike the first night, she wasn’t clutching the corner of the crib like those skeletons of people found to be buried alive.
Monday, March 18- Thursday, March 21 (Days Four-Seven of REAL Sleep Training)
The rest of Week One went swimmingly. Mabel was usually asleep within five minutes and was slept through the night twice. Of course, she woke up at 5am on those mornings. I haven’t decided if I’m a fan of that or not, but it gives me hope for the near future.
March 22-28 (Week Two of REAL Sleep Training)
Mabel seems to have figured out the pattern and now she has started crying before I leave. Sometimes even before I put her down in the crib. Or pick her up from the bed. I still forge on with my song as to not break the pattern, since the stupid book says to try to have a bedtime ritual. But it’s hard not to stop singing with Mabel standing and staring right at me, screaming at the top of her lungs with tears streaming down her face. I don’t want her to start to associate daddy playing guitar with a feeling of abandonment. That can’t be good for her future music career. I also don’t want her to have to go to bed with half a song lingering unfinished, wondering all night what the heck happened to those poor people in Allentown. So I’ve been finishing songs, sometimes starting and finishing songs with our precious bundle of joy bawling her eyes out. This can’t be right.
She also stopped sleeping through the night and often requires night changings. These periods of wakefulness have been lasting anywhere from 20 minutes to 2 hours. I fear we’ve taken a step backwards. This sucks.