Thursday, June 25, 2009

Things We've Tried

Going into this whole baby thing, I was a wee bit unprepared for the challenges of nighttime. I imagined that bedtime in more competently run households would look something like this:

"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.


Jilliane said...

I'm going to go out on a limb here and say that you have tried EVERYTHING. I say just do what works best for you and not what everyone else tells you to do. I once thought that sleep was overrated, but just reading about your sleeping situation makes me tired...I'm off to bed to cherish some sleep!

Sades said...

We've settled on a mattress on the floor with crib mattress positioned between it and the wall. I read that in China sometimes the family bedroom is just a floor covered in mattresses. Now that our baby is mobile, that seems like the best solution. I say if babies and parents are sleeping then don't feel guilty, however, he will only fit in an infant car seat for a few more months. But until then, enjoy the much needed rest.

Anonymous said...

I may have stated this before. Babies don't sleep. It's a myth. Both May and Sterling slept in the bed with us for the first few months. May got to stay longer because she didn't kick or thrash until she was 9 months old.

My father-in-law always told me to just let them "cry it out". I had to come to terms with the fact that I was not that kind of mom.

After 1 year, both kids were on futons and generally woke me up one or two times a night to come back and lie with them until they went back to sleep. They each did this until they were five. Did I mention that they were five years apart? Yup. Ten years with "sleep" primarily used as a term meaning "not standing up and walking around."

If you have the same situation as I, your problems are both doubled and halved. NO sleep for five years. I have heard of children that sleep from midnight to five after a few months. I think their parents slip them roofies.

The point is, although it was tough, we all turned out okay in the end.

Hang in there!

xoxo Ursula

Anonymous said...

I can't imagine how you are differentiating between the floor and the ceiling at this point...Jill & Kim and to the rescue for Operation Mommy Sleep! Then you can refocus and make the next plan! I suspect the boys won't be sharing your bed at 21 years old....this WILL end!

Amy said...

oh April. . . oh Rhys, oh Quin. . .

Deb said...

Anyone who tells you that their baby sleeps all night long is either a liar or is wearing earplugs. There is a reason that babies do not sleep for mommies and daddies for the first twelve is called birth control!

Parsing Nonsense said...

Oh. My. Gosh. That sounds awful! I hope you all find your happy medium soon!

Daryl said...

I think I need to write to the Super Nanny on your behalf .. kidding, just kidding, do I want to stiffle all the potential blog posts? NO.

But in all seriousness, I dont know anyone who has an infant who hasnt gone through this ... and everyone eventually works it out.

Maybe you can let Rhys and Quin take turns sleeping 'alone' so you dont feel guilty .. BTW .. they wont remember any of this.

HLN said...

If anything justifies a KING bed it is a co-sleeping family that consists of a TALL husband, nursing twins and a very sleepy mommy!!! Go and visit your nearest Mattress Giant! And just think when your little boys finally do decide their room is a place that is good for sleeping you and Kyle will have a great big bed to roll around in!

Ashlee said...

You. are. hilarious. (I have an infant--although not two!--and so I feel maybe half your pain.) Thanks for making me LOL.