There’s an intruder in our home. It crouches in corners and lurks in doorways. It is relentless, and it is unwelcome. It snuck in unexpectedly while we weren’t looking, and we are powerless to stop it.
It is Evie’s ability to flip over onto her stomach.
Dun dun DUUUNNN!!!
Sooo tired. Want to sleep but must remain vigilant, lest Evie flip over in the middle of the night and suddenly lose the ability to turn her head to the side. The fact that she lifts her head and holds it like a real baby ALL DAY LONG and that she takes all of her naps on her stomach buys the odd hour to two-hour stretch of sleep, but mostly we are a collective mess.
Funny how the dark stillness of three-o’-clock in the morning can nuture a bone-rattling paranoia and buffet of morbid thoughts that eightballs of cocaine only dream about. Funny, also, how that if your spouse is freaked right the hell out about something, you feel obliged to hop on the crazy train with him, lest you be viewed by the universe as a negligent parent and cause irreparable harm to befall your poor baby as punishment for your lackadasical attitude.
And, just in case my eyes should flutter closed for a moment, there is Evie’s indignation and righteous pissed-offedness at not being able to flip herself from her stomach to her back with suitable ease. Our little perfectionist feels the need to master this skill STAT, which means all-night practice, folks. Which means…you guessed it. Did I mention the tired?
So, my nights are currently going something like this:
8:00pm: Rock impossibly snuggly and warm baby to sleep. Gaze adoringly at her plump cheeks, long eyelashes and beautiful lips. Consider showbiz. Think of Lindsey Lohan. Feel bad.
8:30pm: Nod off in rocking chair and have weird, semi-wakeful dream about William H. Macey robbing a bank. Put baby in crib and start to leave room. Remember that baby must be kissed on the forehead as superstitious, OCD-like talisman against…whatever. Quietly close door and whisper-yell at cat to stop lurking underfoot all the time.
8:45-9:30pm: Clean up kitchen, wash bottles, get coffee ready, make lunch and prepare daycare bag for the next day. Or, alternatively, fall asleep on the couch watching House and let spouse do some or all of the above. Feel bad.
9:30pm: Peel dried-out contacts off of eyeballs. Prepare bottle for eleven o’clock feeding.
9:45pm: Climb into bed and pull self into tight ball as determined protest and metaphorical pronouncement that tonight will be different. Tonight she will sleep through the night like she used to.
11:00pm: Baby wakes up with a hunger that obliterates anything in her world other than MAAAAMMA! DAAAADDY! BAAHHHTLE!
11:03pm (no, really): Baby finishes bottle. Goes back to sleep. Gives up a cute little sleep-burp that smells like formula, oatmeal cereal and about four more hours of sleep.
3:00am: First roll onto stomach. Hear rustling in crib and a few minor protestations. Silence.
3:01am: I won’t go check. She’s fine.
3:05am: Check on baby. Baby’s head turned slightly to side. Consider whether breathing is labored. Decide it is. Turn baby’s head all the way to the side. Baby wakes up, pissed. Damnit. Pick baby up and rock her back to sleep.
3:20am: Climb back into bed. Peel self off of ceiling when the husband you thought was sleeping inquires after the baby right in your ear.
3:25am: Husband complains that he can’t sleep.
3:30am: Husband begins snoring.
3:32am: Roll husband over and make mental grocery list. Wonder if you should start clipping coupons again. Wonder where scissors are. Think about scissors. Remember special left-handed scissors you stole from Andrew McClester in kindergarten because it seemed unfair that he should get special scissors. Wonder if Evie will be left handed. Wonder if Evie will steal things from her classmates. Remember how Andrew McClester was the only kid who slept at naptime.
4:00am: Desparately try to stop runaway, out-of-control thought train when baby rolls over again. Listen for breathing. Hear breathing. Use best Native American Stalking A Deer impersonation to sneak into nursery to spy on own baby. Baby is sleeping peacefully on stomach. Yay!
4:10am: Have never been more thirsty in whole life. Go downstairs and gulp down glass of iced tea. Get murderous, stabbing cold headache. Sneak back up to bed and roll snoring husband over.
4:15am: Baby tries to roll over onto back and wakes herself up. Will not go check. Will let her put herself back to sleep.
4:16am: Baby puts self back to sleep.
4:17am: Am an awesome parent who will raise a confident, not-coddled child.
4:18am: Cats make an inexplicable banging sound downstairs. Husband bolts upright in bed with the speed of a cheetah on crack, causing your heart to stop in your chest. Reassure husband, slightly annoyed. Feel bad for being annoyed and lucky that husband loves baby so much as to freak out about her on a regular basis.
4:25am: Drift off to sleep.
4:30am: Baby wakes up, tries to roll over. Can’t. Tries again. Can’t. Fusses. What if she’s stuck in the railing of the crib? What if when I think she’s gone back to sleep, she’s actually face down in the mattress? Better go check.
4:31am: Baby looks up from struggle to turn over and smiles a big, gummy grin. Bring baby back to bed with you and nurse her to sleep. Smell pee-pee diaper. Too tired to get back up to change her. Drift off to sleep.
4:45am: Baby, inexplicably and very annoyingly, begins to writhe and shake her head back and forth. Consider it could be wet diaper. Feel guilty for leaving baby in wet diaper. Change baby. Baby wakes up. Nurse her back to sleep.
5:15am: Look at clock. Briefly consider crying. Decide to take a quick nap instead.
5:30am: Alarm goes off. Yay.
There are of course, several variations of this schedule. There are nights, like last night, when she sleeps pretty much through the night. There are nights when Gill is up several times to check on the baby’s position or to bring her to bed with us for nursing. And, there are nights when I have toyed with the notion of taking my beloved daughter who WILL NOT stop rolling over onto her stomach and waking herself up and strapping her down to the damned mattress.
This is a stage, and we know that. Pretty soon…for the love of well-restedness, let it be soon…she’ll master turning over and will sleep soundly once again, probably better than ever.
Until then, coffee. And Diet Coke. And all of your prayers.