Last night we had one of these helpless moments. Caroline wouldn't sleep. Instead of going to bed by 7:15...she was up until 11:30. That's right, I said 11:30pm! Nothing, and I mean nothing, was putting her to sleep.
You go through your mama checklist of what it could be...
- Is she hungry?
- Is she hot/cold/uncomfortable?
- Is she not feeling well?
- Does she have a dirty diaper that we missed?
- Is she in pain?
- Is she teething?
- Does she just miss us?
- Is she overtired? (eventually, even if she wasn't to begin with...the answer is yes)
- And on and on...
In these moments, even if we no longer rock our babies to sleep... we do on this night. We hold them and try and make everything better. It works, but then as soon as you set them down, they are screaming again. So you repeat.
In these moments, you check everything. You strip them down and check for rashes, check their temperature, run your finger along their gums to check for teeth poking out, notice they feel ever so slightly warm (probably from being held at this point), so you run a cool washcloth over their face and neck. You give them Tylenol and gripe water, just in case. You feed them, just in case. You hold them. Eventually, you try and put your baby down again so she can sleep, but the moment you lay her in the crib, she screams.
In these moments, you realize that you are now far from your "routine", so maybe your baby is confused. Maybe since she always puts herself to sleep, she doesn't know what's going on. So you let her cry for a few minutes hoping she'll put herself to sleep. You realize that wasn't the problem. So you hold, rock, snuggle, rub her back and repeat.
In these moments, your husband eventually gets her and brings her into your room. She needs a break from the crying and so do you guys. So he places her between the two of you. She's happy. Content. Silent.
In these moments, you look at your peaceful baby lying next to you, and are relieved that nothing is really WRONG. You realize that if she's content just sitting here with you, then she's not in pain, she's probably feeling fine- at least not horrible, and she's happy to be with you. At this point she is just overtired, and whatever kept her up in the beginning of all of this has most likely subsided. Maybe the Tylenol worked, or maybe the gripe water. It honestly doesn't matter- the only thing that matters is that she's OK. You breathe.
In these moments, you let her drift off to sleep. You wonder if you should dare move her back to her crib, or if she should just sleep here, in your bed tonight. You think of all of the dangers, though. Your husband that sleeps so soundly he might roll over, the dogs that jump on the bed in the middle of the night might not notice her. You know you won't get any sleep- but does that really matter if she's sleeping? You also know that she will sleep so much better if she is in her crib. And that at 3am when your husband gets up for the day, you don't want her to wake up because she hears him. So it's decided- you'll move her. But you wait.
In these moments, you wait until you know she's in that deep sleep. You wait even longer because you are going to hate yourself if the transfer is not smooth and wakes her up. Then you just do it. You stand up and assess the situation. You look at how she's positioned and figure out the best way to lift her without waking her. She's in the middle of a king sized bed, so you have to lean way over to get to her. You slide your hands underneath her body so gently and quietly. And then you lift. Her body is heavy and limp and so you smile! She is fast asleep. You walk down the hallway, and your foot brushes against a pair of shoes that were left there. This little noise, causes her to flinch. You stop in your tracks and hold your breath. She's still sleeping, so you move again. You make it to her room only to realize you are holding her backwards- and it does matter, because her mattress is elevated on one side due to her reflux. You contemplate if you should try and twist your arms around to lay her down, or if you should lay her down and then re-lift and reposition her. You decide to twist and it's awkward, but you do it. She's still asleep. You stand there for a moment. All you want to do is give her a kiss- but you don't dare.
In these moments, you can't wait to see her in the morning. You go in and she is as happy and silly as ever. She is fine. Ironically, she has turned herself "backwards" in the crib, despite all the arm twisting you did last night to make sure she was positioned correctly. You laugh. You give her a kiss and a hug (or several), and tell her how much you love her. You cross your fingers that tonight goes better- and still wonder what on earth was wrong. You'll never know. And most likely, she'll be fine tonight and go back to her normal routine. She'll put herself to sleep in 5 minutes and she won't need you. You'll secretly wish you were getting baby snuggles- but know to be careful what you wish for...