"Oh goodness gracious. It's 5pm. Time for bed." Loving mother picks up sweet and smiling baby, who definitely does not have a huge explosion of poop in his diaper, and brings him into his beautiful nursery. Lullabies fill the air, which smells like baby powder and cookies. She places her sleepy baby, who has not made a peep aside from contented coos which accompany his smile, into his crib, where he gently sighs and goes to sleep. Mother kisses baby's forehead and goes into the dining room. Of course, her dashingly handsome husband has made dinner, lit the candles, and decantered a bottle of perfectly aged Cabernet.
So in the beginning, thinking myself at least slightly competent, I was a bit surprised as I became acquainted with the realities of nighttime with babies. Picture it: Eleven PM. One baby is methodically tearing off my right nipple while the other smooshes poop with his foot while my dashingly handsome husband wrestles with a cloth diaper. Instead of a warm dinner with the perfect wine, I'm scooping frosting out of the can with my finger and drinking a beer. No one sleeps.
Five months in, we've refined this routine a bit. We've set a more reasonable bedtime (which is kind of more a goal than a reality most days. Like winning the lottery.) Our main dilemma seems to be that we cannot figure out who should sleep where. Short of trying out the crib ourselves, we've tried just about everything. Rather than cry about it (although I DO - usually at 2am) or swear about it (that comes at 3am, trucker-style), it seems most prudent to simply laugh. Just not while crying and swearing. That's when they send you away.
The things we've tried.
In some semblance of chronological order.
(Please note that in the below scenarios, the term "sleep" is used lightly. Unless noted otherwise, the term "sleep" refers to 1-2 hour stretches of sleep followed by voracious nursing.)
1. Babies in the crib (co-sleeper style, next to the bed). Parents in the bed. Result: 0 sleep. Babies hate the crib. Make bizarre, slightly humorous, slightly terrifying, chirping noises. This setup leads to...
2. Each parent sleeps with a baby on his/her chest. Sitting up. All night long. Result: Babies sleep beautifully. Parents do not sleep. Develop back/neck/shoulder issues. This setup leads to...
3. Again, each parent sleeps with a baby on his/her chest. Sitting up. All night long. Result: Babies sleep beautifully. Parents sleep beautifully too. Because now we're too exhausted to let a little "sitting up" ruin the potential for sleep. This setup continues until babies discover they prefer to sleep with their faces wedged in an armpit. Safety issue...on to the next setup.
4. Daddy sleeps in bed like a normal person. Mommy wedges herself as close to daddy as possible. This leaves half the bed open for babies, who are now in the bed sleeping parallel to one another and perpendicular to mommy, who wraps her arms around the two of them like a big mommy-arm baby gate. Result: Everyone sleeps. This continues until babies get too long to safely fit perpendicular to mommy and threaten to tumble off the bed.
5. Daddy sleeps on an air mattress on the floor next to the crib and the bed. Mommy continues with babies as in setup 4. Result: Everyone sleeps. Mommy feels tremendous guilt over daddy sleeping on the air mattress. Invites him back into bed under the conditions that...
6. Daddy sleeps at the foot of the bed, perpendicular to mommy. Mommy and daddy are forming an L. Babies continue to sleep in mommy's arm-gate. Result: Mommy kicks daddy. Daddy kicks mommy. Babies sleep. Did I mention Daddy is 6'6"? Sleeping sideways on a queen size bed?
7. Mommy and daddy switch positions. (This is sounding like a creepy, TMI, "how babies are made" type story at this point). Babies remain in mommy-gate. Result: Mommy kicks daddy. Daddy kicks mommy. Babies sleep.
8. Mommy and Daddy decide to try the Pack N' Play in place of the crib. Result: 0 sleep. Babies hate the Pack N' Play. Return of the bizarre, slightly humorous, slightly terrifying, chirping noises.
9. Everyone in the bed. Laying in the traditional direction. Result: Beautiful, blissful sleep. For all.
10. Mommy gets nervous babies will get smothered in the bed. Mommy and daddy attempt to teach the babies to love the crib. Result: Tears had by all. Except maybe daddy. 0 sleep. Repeat this for many, many, many nights.
11. Same as scenario 10, except for that Rhys is in the car seat in the crib, Quin is just regular ol' in the crib. Result: Rhys sleeps beautifully. For 4-7 hour stretches. Tears had by everyone else. Ok, just mommy and Quin.
12. Mommy sleeps on a futon mattress on the floor with Quin. Rhys sleeps in his car seat in the crib. Daddy sleeps in the bed alone. Result: Sleep is had for all. Especially daddy. Mommy develops severe back pain. Chiropractic bills are mounting.
13. Daddy in the bed. Mommy in the bed. Quin in the bed. Rhys in the car seat in the crib. Result: Everybody sleeps. Mommy feels tremendous guilt that Rhys is alone in the crib.
Oh, where will our travels lead us next? I'm not sure, although I'm willing to bet it will involve more tremendous guilt and the chiropractor.