Tuesday, January 17, 2017

I Write So Much About Sleep Because I Am So So Sleepy

stress and stars blog motherhood

Audra has decided naps are for the weak.

Oh, don't get me wrong, she's never been what you'd call a good sleeper. While sleep training did wonders for so many of my friends' babies, my own first child stubbornly insisted on being awake whenever she damn well pleased, ignoring our own desperate need for more than three hours of sleep at a time. Luckily, she was at least cheerfully awake and therefore much easier to handle than if she'd been the sort of child who cried all night.

Oh no no no.

My child just wanted us to look at her at 2 o'lock in the morning.

She's a restless little thing in her bed, flipping and flopping all night long. There are occasionally slightly worrisome-sounding thumps and bumps audible through the wall and she ends up in a tangle of toddler legs and blanket, all of which are on her tiny toddler bed and precisely none of which are actually touching her somehow.

We used to rely on having the three of us just sleep in one big bed when staying at hotels, and discovered that her ninja-kicks never stop while she sleeps, they just end up being unconsciously aimed at the kidneys her parents need to live.

The part where we expect her to nap in her room, that palace of just-for-her toys, books, and interesting rocks she sneaked in when we weren't looking? The temptation to do anything but sleep is just too great.

On Saturday, she declared, at least to herself, that there would be no napping today. Oh, she went willingly and cheerfully enough into her room. Then she embarked on a campaign of doing whatever it took to avoid closing her eyes.

First, she screwed around with her night lights until we made her stop. Then she found some neat shoes to move around the room. A package of diapers just begged for inspection.

She sang to herself for a while, then talked when she ran out of songs.

Eventually, we realized she had been in there for more than an hour and a half and the nap just wasn't going to happen. I went in there and got her back out, figuring she'd had some quiet alone time, if nothing else, and put on a movie for her to watch with me. She wiggled and wriggled her way off the couch, picking this up and moving that, restless and exhausted.

Within forty-five minutes, she laid her head down on my knees and said, "I want to snuggle just for a minute."

I picked her up and held her in my lap, all 35 pounds of her, half as tall as I am and all diamond-sharp knees and elbows.

She fell asleep about thirty seconds later.

So I threw a show on Netflix and settled in for a very long snuggle with a sleeping two-year-old who rarely stops moving long enough for me to hold her like that anymore. It was a good reminder of the tiny six-pound infant we first brought home in 2014, who would sleep and sleep on our chests but nowhere else for so long, those long first eight weeks where I watched Frasier and Cheers and Friends in their entirety on Netflix while she breathed.

Ellie is even outgrowing that early stage, too, and it's nice to get the reminder to occasionally sit back and enjoy an ever-changing child just wanting to curl up with you for a while. Sooner or later, the next time she can't sleep until she's holding me is going to be the last.

I try to remember that reminder when she wakes us up at 3 AM because she needs a hug after a bad dream. I really try to remember that when the 3 AM wakeup is followed by her being up, cheerful, and thrilled to start her day before six.

After the Great Nap War of Saturday, I followed up on Sunday by just taking her into Jason and I's room and curling up in the bed with her. She fought as hard as she could, giggling and talking and murmuring and eventually just silently thrashing, for a good half an hour before she fell asleep.

Then she rested her head on my shoulder, snored in my ear for about an hour and a half, and I finished a book I've been trying to read since shortly after Ellie's birth.

It was a pretty wonderful way to spend a Sunday afternoon.

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