Sunday, December 14, 2008

Enter Hypnos, Stage Right

Oh, sleepless nights. Now that Gianna is 17 months old, I expect her to sleep through the night, make herself a PB&J, ride her ten speed to the store to pick up some groceries for me, and to deport herself with decorum and grace.

No, not really. Although a little more sleep and a lot less kicks to the bladder would be nice. I actually don't expect Gianna to sleep through the night yet. She still has teeth that need to come in (we've got 16 so far; up next are the 2 year molars), she's still hitting developmental milestones left and right, and let's face it: she's my daughter. My little "Mini-me," right down to the double-jointed thumb and birthmark on her left bun. I don't even sleep through the night. Or at least, I remember very vaguely not sleeping through the night before I became pregnant.

I am in the process of trying out various methods of maximizing her and my sleep performance. I'm not going to monkey with Mr. Clarateaches' sleep- he still sleeps like he did when he was in college, working on the Formula SAE car. For quite a while, I was convinced that he had narcolepsy. If ever there is a break-in, I will have to man the shotgun myself, and wake him up when it's over- to which he no doubt will (upon awakening): 1st- Look stunned 2nd- Loudly vocalize, probably not real words, and 3rd- Resume slumber.

Method 1- Play outside, and wear her out.
This actually did seem to contribute to more restful sleep when the days were crisp, cool and sunny. Lately it's been 13* and windy, so this isn't always an option. Out of 5 stars, I'll give it a good 4.

Method 2- Chamomile Tea.
This really doesn't have much of an effect on her. She doesn't drink that much of it, and was tipped off that it's sedating, so now she mostly runs away and laughs if I suggest a cup. 1 star for effort.

Method 3- Raw Honey.
Honey has a naturally sedating effect, and I had surprisingly good results with it, until I learned that it also can cause wild, vivid dreams. I had wondered why Gianna started waking up screaming until I spent one night in a tall pine tree with my mother-in-law, avoiding the calculus test for which we forgot to study. Night-terror inductions aside, this gets a solid 4 stars.

There are other elements- if she's really wild and has had an off-day, Rescue Remedy works fine to help get her settled. Lavender in the bath works occasionally. Why not just let her cry it out? Well, for lots of reasons. For one thing, I believe that mothers have instincts for good reasons, and to ignore those instincts is no good. My instinct is to not leave my child anywhere alone to cry. For another, there have been many occasions that her night time shenanigans have clued me in to something that was wrong- the night she had a massive rash from raspberries, the night she uncharacteristically pooped in the middle of the night (ick- who wants to sleep in that?), the night that Lola was somehow left outside in the middle of the night... the list goes on. Before she started her EC strike, sometimes it just meant that she needed to sit on the potty for a while. The main reason is that even among mothers that use CIO (Crying It Out), they all concede that it still has nights where it just doesn't work. Just as some people sleep differently, so do babies. For whatever reason, Gianna's just the type of person that needs to be wakeful. Which brings me to:

Method 4: Acceptance
When I accept that she will, indeed, wake through the night and chant "Milk, milk, ma-milk, mama milk," latch on, and then sleep, I'm a happier person all around. When she's hitting a developmental leap that causes me to wonder if she's growing the skill of flight, if I accept that she'll be wiggling and kicking and head-butting me into the wee sma's, I still am tired, but I'm not angry and frustrated.

Finally, I do need to concede to what more "established" mothers often tell me- it goes so fast. Soon enough, she'll be sleeping through the night in her own bed, and soon after that, I'm sure I'll need to deal with her wanting to sleep all day, and later, she'll be keeping me awake while I wonder where she is, and while I listen for her car.

Thursday, December 04, 2008

Covered in Shells

Through my head, this refrain repeats- How on earth did women in the pioneer days do it? Without microwaves, ovens, dishwashers or washers and dryers. How did they manage one whole day, not to mention prepare for holidays? Especially out there on the Oregon Trail? Food for thought on this busy Thursday morning, with a stack of Christmas cards that need some words of cheer, with diapers that need to be hung to dry, with stockings to stitch together, and with a dog that desperately needs for me to croon Dave Mathews Band songs to her. Don't confuse that Precious Moments dog eye look for anything short of admiration.

So, that could be my excuse for not blogging lately. Truth be told, though, I'm stuck in thought patterns that I can't seem to shake off. I do try to mix the deep thoughts with exaggeratedly hyperbolic representations of students of the past, toddler of the present, and no small amount of Dogasus. Bear with me while I purge.

Not so many years ago, there was a little boy with curly, dark hair, pale skin, and the berry-blue eyes of his Black Irish ancestry. He happily created machine guns with rolling pins and the waist-tie of his bathrobe, assembled complicated weaponry with Legos, watched GI Joe with rapt attention, and got into the various scraps and scrapes with neighborhood children, including his siblings. As he grew, he continued in his love of all things military, all things history, and organized with his friends a particularly memorable paintball ambush of some neighborhood riffraff that were vandalizing our house.

Life has a way of indiscriminately aiming some stunningly powerful elements at just about anyone and everyone. With this small boy, it was in the form of pretty strong family violence. He grew a very potent form of chivalry as a way of dealing with it. The Marine Corps was a natural progression. Today, he trains in the desert of California, awaiting an early spring deployment to the Middle East. I couldn't be prouder of my little brother. At the same time, my thoughts splinter in a thousand directions- why does he even have to go? I thought we were finished. What happened to the Senetors who were voted in on so many promises of bringing everyone home? Most important- who will he be when he comes back? Because he will come back- I'm not giving him a choice. I cannot believe that, in all that has happened in his 24 years, this is where it will end.