Thursday, 11 July 2013

Drowsy but awake: Tales of a nap resister

"Drowsy but awake" - This is a phrase which makes me laugh.  First, it very succinctly describes how I am pretty much all the time.  After medical school and residency, I thought I knew sleep deprivation. Parenthood takes it to a whole new level!

I like to think I'm pretty relaxed person in general, but let's face it - you don't meet a lot of doctors who don't have some type A personality traits.  In the parenting department, my type A personality is trying to "solve" sleep deprivation.  I know that this is a fruitless exercise with a two-month-old baby, but something drives me to read every article, every website, and every book on the subject.  And believe me, there is a lot of material on the subject!

Lately I've been focusing my attention on the all important nap.  I know from my extensive reading as well as from my experience in the last two months, that the key to a good day and a good night is napping.  Before Finley was born, I imagined myself doing exactly what I tell my patients to do: "Sleep when your baby sleeps."  I had visions of my baby peacefully sleeping in the crib, while I peacefully slept in the bed next to him.  Well, unless I learn to nap while walking, that vision is not going to be a reality any time soon.

All the reading I've done on the subject seems to share one common thread of advice: put your baby in his bassinet "drowsy but awake". In theory, they say this will teach your baby to learn how to fall asleep on his own.   The last thing you would want to do is rock, sing  walk, nurse, or otherwise trick your baby into a sleep state before you put him down.   This is a joke that sleep "experts" are playing on new parents.  When it comes to napping in the bassinet, Finley is a conscientious objector.  On the recommendations of my books, I started doing what I call the "nap dance". As soon as I recognized that Finley was tired, I took him to his room.  I would swaddle  him up cozy, then sing and rock him til his eyelids were drooping.  Yes, I admit I sometimes let him fall right to sleep.  Once he was there, I would gently lower him into his bassinet.  The second his body would hit the mattress, he  would wake up crying.  I would then pick him up and repeat.  I once did this for five cycles (nearly two hours!). My book claims he will eventually get it and just peacefully drift off to dreamland.   We could do the nap dance for another hour, or I could pop him into baby-carrier and have him asleep before I get out the front door.  Which is what we do.  At least four times everyday!

Swaddle- check.  Soother- check.  Favourite blankie - check.  White noise - check.  Reassuring hand- check.  
Sleeping baby... er, not so much!

Our little nap-resister will sometimes nap in other places, like on our laps, 

on our chests, 

in Dad's arms,

in his Aunt Kari's arms,

in the big person bed with Throckmorton,

on the sofa,

or in the crook of Grandpa's arm while enjoying a beer with his friend Peter and watching the Tour de France.

But walking in the baby-carrier is his very favourite.  I suspect it's because I walked so much in pregnancy that he's used to jostling around all snuggled up to a warm body.  So we walk and walk and walk!  Finley gets his naps while mommy and daddy get their exercise!  It could be worse- it could be the middle of November, or he could be an environmentally-unfriendly baby who only naps in the car.

Here is a real time shot of Finley napping on me while I write this post.  He is fast asleep, I am drowsy, but awake.  I could do what the books say and wake him to transfer him, drowsy but awake, to the correct napping place, his bed... Or I could let him snooze happily and enjoy this time when my Finley is little and cuddly and just wants to curl up with his mama.  Yes, that sounds much nicer.  

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