Friday, January 19, 2007

Half Nolie


It occurred to me last night that I haven't really known Nolie the way I knew--or thought I knew--Addie.  Somehow with Addie I had interpreted or projected onto her all sorts of personality traits:  namely, a pretty fierce independence, among other things.  Whether she really had that from day one, or it became a self-fulfilling prophecy, or both, I don't know.

But I haven't had as much time to scrutinize Nolie's every sound, every move, every facial expression.  As a result, it feels as if I "know" her less, as if in order for me to realize something new about her it has to hit me in the face.

There are the surface differences, of course:  Nolie's intense need to be swaddled and held, her night wakings (Addie slept through the night, unswaddled and for long stretches, from four months on).  Nolie refuses the binky, whereas Addie held on to it as if her life depended on it.  Addie latched on immediately to "Bear Bear" (see the picture that heads toddlerspit), while Nolie refuses any such love object.  I am trying to force a blanky on her as we are moving away from swaddling, but it's not naturally taking the way it did with Addie.

But there are bigger differences that are starting to emerge, too.  Nolie wants to keep an eye on me at all times, whereas Addie was always a little more self-focused as a baby; not that she didn't demand a lot of attention, too, but Nolie's energy is a lot needier.  Nolie is most interested in the people around her; Addie was most interested in her own activities, I think.

I say all this because I'm trying to solve the puzzle of our sleep problems with Nolie.  I feel a little silly even describing them as problems.  She takes a long nap almost every day, and she's getting easier to put down at night.  But she still requires a really tight swaddle, and I'm getting concerned that when she physically grows out of those blankets, she won't be able to put herself to sleep. Then, too, she's waking a lot more at night:  a while back she was sleeping through the night more often than not, but that trend seems to be reversing itself.  She's waking 2-3 times a night now, wanting to be nursed down, and I'm getting tired.  It's a really busy semester for me, and I'm noticing that I'm forgetting appointments, searching for words in class, drinking too much caffeine.  I'm eating better and exercising, but I'm fuzzy-headed from lack of sleep.  So, something needs to change. 

We've been trying the cry-it-out method with Nolie, because it worked with Addie so well, and because we're a little tired and muddle-headed about what else to do.   Not to mention we have Addie to take care of, so sometimes we just have to put Nolie down so we can put out whatever fires Addie is starting.  This is working when we first put her down at night--she's not crying for too long, and stays asleep for a few hours.  The problem is the night wakings; she gets really worked up and can't soothe herself back down.

I watched a couple videos today on Babycenter that tracked couples trying the Ferber method (cry-it-out) and the Sears method (attachment parenting).  The strange thing was, though the two methods are fairly opposite in theory, the solutions that the two sets of parents came to were the same:  teach the babies to self-soothe, offer periodic comfort when it makes sense to do so, and find the right middle ground.

This made sense to me.  Instead of just laying Nolie down for her nap and leaving the room while she screamed herself to sleep for an hour, I laid her down, unswaddled but with her Gigi blanket in her grasp, and patted her for a while.  I went back a few more times and patted her some more, which seemed to ease her crying (this would have just pissed Addie off as a baby), and now she's asleep.

We'll have to practice this tonight, and when she wakes.  What I'm learning is that, with Nolie (again, unlike Addie), there isn't any magic bullet.  What works today probably won't work tomorrow.  This is incredibly frustrating.  And yet, everyday, I keep trying to find the missing piece of the puzzle, the thing that will lock everything else in to place with her sleeping, so that I, too, can get some sleep.  It's also a lot tougher to figure this stuff out with two kids:  it's harder to set and keep a sleep routine with Nolie because we're also dealing with Addie.  It's just a different terrain when you have two mountain goats to corral.

This is one of the tougher things about parenting, guiding your kids from a place of comfort so that they can grow and try new things, be in new ways.  Often, your hand gets forced--in this case, by exhaustion--but there is no set timetable or set of guidelines that tells you exactly when and how to do things.  So you have false starts and mis-steps and fiascos.  And the lessons you learned from the first kid may not apply to the second, because they're different humans.  You think you've got it, then you don't.  They may be little, but they sure can pull big rugs out from under you.


  1. Wow, you really nailed it. I can never stop being surprised at how my girls are such entirely different people.

  2. Yeah, I got it. I also thought that some things that were easy with Gwen will apply to Raiff but Noooo. He's teaching me to be patient, with him & myself. Regarding the Gigi, Gwen took to a "burpie" ("burple" for Steve & me but she can't pronounce "ple") early on, latching to it by covering her eyes, rubbing her face with it. Raiff is slowing getting the hang with one too but he's still mostly in our bed. Still. At 9 months yesterday. But that's another story. Oye.

    I don't know how you do it, Jen. I'm a bitch & 1/2 without sufficient sleep but I don't need to step out of the house if (not) need be. You have to teach. You're the real thing.

    P.S. The burpie is actually a cloth diaper.

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