Monday, June 4, 2007

Rock A Bye Baby

I'm such a sucker. I cannot think of one other person in world for whom I would go through the rigamarole that is required to get Paige to sleep lately.

First the nursing, which is getting less snuggly by the day. We do side-lying nursing in my bed, and she starts out curled up sweetly, holding on to my finger. After the first few gulps, she begins the rolling. She rolls to the right, rolls back, nurses for 3.4 seconds, rolls to the right again, gets up on her arms, drags herself forward and tries to latch on from the tummy position. Tonight, she scooted over to me on her back and, I swear, arched upward and tipped her head like she was going to try to nurse upside down.

After I give up on the nursing, I put her in the crib on her tummy with the pacifier, and we do our "drop, grope, stick it" routine. First she drops the paci; I grope around for it; then I stick it back in her mouth. Then she drops it; I grope, stick it... You see where this is going. If she's feeling particularly sassy, she will, instead of accidentally dropping the paci, pull it out of her mouth and, I swear, drop it outside the bars of the crib. Who knew a round-faced, pink-cheeked, sweetly drooly 7 month old could be defiant? Please dear baby, give me more time. Just a wee bit more time before you join your brothers in Project Drive Mother Flippin' Nuts.

When she gets just sleepy enough to hold on to the pacifier but not quite sleepy enough to actually, you know, go to sleep, she plays bumper pad peek-a-boo. First she teases me by lying quietly for a minute or so with her eyes drooping. Then she experiments with the limits of my patience by raising up and clawing at the crib bumper until she has pulled it down far enough to peek over the top and grin at me. The grin, oh so darling, causes the paci to drop; I grope... So you see, it's a 1 step forward, 2 steps back thing.

If she takes too long to settle down, I have to resort to the finger holding strategy. For this one, I lie down on the bed beside her crib (yes, she's still in our room. If you want to object, email my mother and ask to sign the petition) and stick an arm through the crib bars so she can hang on to my finger or stroke the back of my hand as she dozes off. This is a last resort, however, because once I commit to the finger holding strategy, I'm in it for the long haul. I cannot remove my hand until she is well asleep--that is, past REM sleep and on her way to heavy, loose-limbed sleep. If I try to remove my hand prematurely, her head pops up and she reprimands me with a whine that, if studied by the Baby Whisperer, would probably translate to, "What kind of mother are you? Only devoting 45 minutes of your precious night to holding my finger...hmph." If that happens, we start over.

However, if it comes to finger holding, there is a small window of time before my arms goes numb and my stores of patience are depleted during which I feel the purest sort of bliss. When Paige reaches for my hand and wraps her fingers around mine, I remember that I am her alpha and omega. It is the deepest kind of intimacy to lie in the dark beside your baby and feel her tiny fingers stroke the back of your hand, to hear her breath slowing and deepening, to finally feel her limbs slacken, and to know that she only fell asleep--finally--because she believed she was safe. Because she was holding on to you.

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