At 6:15am this morning, I literally jumped and sat straight up in my bed after being awakened by my three and half year old whimpering, “I need to go pee-pee!” over the baby monitor. He repeated this phrase a few times before I realized that I was in fact awake and not still dreaming. I made my way down the hall to his room, got him out of bed and led him into his bathroom. He lifted the lid to the toilet, pulled his pants down, got up on his tippie toes, and proceeded to do his business, lift up the back of his shirt, and scratch his butt. I had to laugh, because he does this every single time he takes a pee. No one taught him to do this. I guess some gender traits are just innate!
After he finished, I ushered him back into his room and told him that he had to go back to sleep until 7:00am. Seven has become the magic number in our household. Ask any one of my friends and they will tell you that my kid has not exactly been the best sleeper in the world. As an infant, he was up at least two to three times a night for the first few months. Granted, things improved once I took the advice of a dear family friend and put a tablespoon of rice cereal in his nighttime bottle. My mother had told me to try that little trick about a hundred times, but for whatever reason it is just so much easier to take advice from someone other than your mother. You would think that the fact that she raised me and helped me become the happy and perfectly healthy adult that I am today would have me jumping all over any piece of advice she gave, but no…I had to hear it from one of our good friends to finally listen. In talking to other new mommies, I’ve found that this is pretty much the trend.
After I put that cereal in my son’s bottle, he started sleeping through the night, but not on a consistent basis. Some nights just went way better than others, as is typical for most babies. I stress the “most” part because there are those less than 1% of mothers out there who have babies who actually sleep like normal human beings. You know what I have to say to these women? “GOOD FOR YOU HONEY!” Now shut the hell up about it before you make the other 99.9999 % of women out there feel like their babies are abnormal and that they are doing something wrong. They AREN’T. You just happen to have a prize winner of a baby. Oh yeah, and get your sleep now while you still can, because if the laws of fairness are true, your next little perfectionist will come out with horns.
I can remember one particular night while we were living in Denver. My son was probably around two or three months old, and I was using those Playtex bottles with the plastic liners. My little one woke up at about three in the morning crying for a bottle, and so I went into his bathroom, mixed the formula up, poured it into the liner, warmed up the bottle, and all while my poor baby was SCREAMING for that milk. I finally got it warmed up, took it into his bedroom and assured him that “Mama was here!”, and then I went to push the air out of the liner. For those of you who haven’t used bottles with liners, you have to stick your fingers on the bottom and lightly push up on them in order to get any excess air out of the milk. Usually the air pushes right out without a problem. Not that night. This time, the liner felt unusually hard to push. What did I do? I pushed up on it HARDER. The next thing I knew, the nipple of the bottle popped off, and I literally had a geyser of Nestle Good Start formula exploding all over me and my baby’s room. Of course, my poor baby is screaming even LOUDER at this point, and now I was too. I cleaned up the mess the best I could, all the while wailing about how exhausted I was and having no idea how in the hell I was going to get through that night. I went back into the bathroom and started the process again of fixing a nice, warm bottle to finally appease my poor baby. I was smart this time and let the air out of the liner while still in the bathroom…just in case it exploded again. This time it worked great and I went back into my child’s room to feed it to him and rock him back to sleep. TOO LATE MAMA! In all the commotion, he must have decided that he was sick and tired of waiting on me to fix that bottle, so he went back to sleep. I should’ve been ticked off at this point, but I was just so thrilled to have a sleeping baby that I ran back to my own room to get some z’s.
Around 11 months old, things started to get a little more routine and my husband and I were finally getting some decent sleep. I think I even started fixing my hair in the morning again instead of just saying, “f!*# it” and pulling it back into a messy ponytail, which was all I could manage after only a few hours of sleep. Things were certainly looking up! Then our little bundle cut his first tooth. That was the day that things really went in the crapper. For the next two-and-a-half years, the little angel was awake and ready to go EVERY SINGLE MORNING at around 4:30am. Ok, 5:00am on a really good day. Forget fixing my hair. I was lucky if I remembered to wipe the zit cream off my face in the morning. I remember distinctly getting up each day (or was that considered the middle of the night?) with him, coming downstairs, plopping him on the couch in front of Playhouse Disney, and then running to the front window to find every single house up and down our street PITCH black. My neighbor across the street had just had a baby…and there was not ONE light on in HER house! How was it that she had a newborn sleeping through the night and my little toddler was wide awake at 4:30am?? All I wanted to do every single morning was get in my car and drive up and down our street LAYING on the horn the whole way. If I was going to be up, I thought that everyone should be awake to share in the fun. After deciding that waking up the rest of the neighborhood probably wouldn’t win me any popularity contests, I would reluctantly go make my first of about five cups of coffee, then go sit down on the couch with my son and try to remind myself that “this too shall pass.”
My little man finally cut his last tooth right before he turned three years old, and I was right. The up-all-night and up-way-too-early phases did indeed pass. I also realized that he was now old enough to recognize numbers. Just for laughs, I put a digital clock in his room and told him that he could not get out of his bed in the morning until the first number on that clock was a seven. To mine and my husband’s complete delight, it WORKED! I finally sleep till seven o’clock on most mornings and will never take my sleep for granted ever again. I think that I more than paid my dues in that department, and I deserve every single solitary hour of slumber that I get! And yes, my little butt scratcher got right back in his bed after that 6:15 pee emergency today and slept until 7:30am. Life is good.
The Mommyologist’s Last Word: To any pregnant ladies or mothers of newborns out there, I cannot stress this enough: “SLEEP WHEN THE BABY SLEEPS!” Oh yeah, and don’t use bottles with those plastic liners.