Sunday, December 17, 2006

Death Swaddles and Lullabies


Nolie's been a pretty good sleeper, really.  Oh, there will be a night or two a week where she'll wake up two or three times to eat, but that's usually because her stomach is gassy from not pooping, and it passes (you know, passes).  But she's definitely not a nightmare sleeper, not a kid who screams all night or who has to be held constantly or who we're going to have to kick out of the family bed at thirteen [ed. note:  There's nothing wrong with the family bed.  We co-slept with both our kids for the first few months of their lives, until they became hot and squirmy and slept better in their cribs].

In fact, Nolie sleeps through the night four or five nights a week; if she does wake up, it's usually for a quick top-off from the old nip, and back she goes. 

Here's the thing, though.  It's kind of a production to actually get her to sleep.  First, she has to be in a death-swaddle, one that Eric is extremely proficient at executing, in which she is unable to move any limbs.  Second, said swaddle has to be in one of the hospital receiving blankets (the pink and blue striped kind) which we thankfully stole from Presbyterian/St. Luke's after her birth.  Third, she has to be tightly wrapped in her kiddopotamus, so that she can't break out of the death swaddle.  We only own two of these because they're a little pricey and I refuse to buy any more baby gear than is absolutely necessary.  The problem is, Nolie is constantly doing the milk hork all over herself, and so these things have to be washed pretty much every other day.  Great.

Then, she has to be nearly suffocated while we carry her around in the back-breaking, quad-building tango my brother-in-law Steve calls the "Thunder Moccasin Dance" (he has perfected this with his own children, who require no such insane swaddling).  I often do this with my boob in her mouth; Eric muffles her cries in the crook of his arm until she hyperventilates and passes out.

Then, once she is totally quiet, she is placed in a bouncy seat, sans any hangy-things, vibrations, or other distractions.  This bouncy seat is placed, a little precariously, in the crib.

Eric and I keep wondering to ourselves if this is a good thing.  Nolie is getting kind of big, and at some point could ostensibly wiggle herself out of the baby seat, thus cracking her noggin a good one on the crib slats.  It also seems a little weird to us that she's still so into the swaddle--most kids have definitely outgrown it by four months, my web-sleuthing reveals (and, Addie did).  I suppose there is a lame-ass part of us that worries she'll be stunted by not being able to move any of her limbs.  I suppose there is a lame-ass part of me that worries that this baby is going to be insanely needy for the rest of her life. 

Mostly, though, I think we would like to whittle down the production somewhat.  We'd like to shave off a step or two and maybe, just maybe, take a nap ourselves someday.

As a result, today, I tried feeding Nolie in the rocker, unswaddled, until she fell asleep.  Once she (and my left arm) seemed soundly asleep, I tried to lay her in the crib. 

Uh, no.

Two hours of repeating this process over and over and over again, and Nolie was wide awake, looking up at me and giggling.  I suppose she had her nap, though interrupted, and was ready to rock.  I gave her over to Eric, who played with her a while, swaddled her, and has her sleeping peacefully in his arms as I write this.  I had to soak in a hot bath, my nerves and lower back worse for the wear (Eric, on the other hand, is fine.  I wore the baby out for him, and it's football season, so he has an excuse to just hang on the couch anyway).

Nolie has quite clearly let us know that she likes what she likes the way she likes it.

Anyway, the production continues.  My instincts tell me not to force it (like I did with the potty training fiasco this fall), that Nolie will tell us when she's ready to sleep unsheathed.  To paraphrase our good buddy Dr. Sears, whatever works, man.  Whatever works.


  1. By the way, Gwen spent her first three months deep in an Amazing Miracle Blanket. (We have four of 'em and we'll happily send them all to you if they might help for Magnolia Jade.) So, this adds some weight to your observation that kids outgrow the swaddle by four months.

    It's only Raiff that never really required a swaddle. He had no problem sleeping on his back with his arms loose -- even when he was just a couple months old. The unfortunate thing about Raiff is that he has never slept through an entire night. Some nights (like last night) he'll get up at around 1am, and just hang out trying to play with us until 2:30 or so.

    I guess he didn't awaken himself when unswaddled because his natural tendency with the flailing arms is to strike outward. He still does this. It's rare that he hits himself in the face. (Although, I swear his hands (acting totally on autopilot) would remove his pacifier. At this, he would then get upset because somebody took his binky away.)

    I should take my own advice, but I'm starting to think that the cry-it-out method might be suitable for both of us. Like: I know the boy's tired. If I just put him down, I'm pretty sure he'll eventually scream himself asleep. I guess the question is whether (on a particular day) I want to sacrifice my nerves or my back.

  2. Thats some quality basics there, already knew some of that, but you can always learn more. I doubt a “kid” could put together such information as dolphin278 suggested. Maybe he’s just attempting to be “controversial? lol

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