Tuesday, August 28, 2007

The times, they are a-changin'

Well, lots of things have been happening 'round these parts, Internet. My parents, for example, finally, finally sold their house. It had been on the market for THREE YEARS, people. That, my friends, is a long time to live in an open-house-ready home. A looooong time. We (meaning my sisters, brother, sister-in-law, and brothers-in-law) are all thrilled for my parents, but that doesn't change the fact that my parents are moving out of the home they have lived in for 37 years, the house that was my home for the first 24 years of my life, and I went there for the last time ever last Wednesday. That evening, as I was bundling Jack into his car seat, I felt like there should be some sort of grand ceremony marking the the last time I was ever to set foot in my childhood home, but there was only my own shouting through the kitchen windows for someone to come move Big Sister #4's car. So while I am filled with relief on my parents' behalf that their three-year ordeal is over, I can't help but feel a little sad. This is because I am against change. All change. Even change for the better. Back in my day, we didn't HAVE change, and we LIKED it.

I am, of course, lying, because there is another change occurring right now that I am in love with. I am a little bit afraid to discuss it because I don't want to jinx* anything, but Jack has undergone a Sleep Renaissance. About three weeks ago, Jack started waking up every night and requiring two hours of holding and rocking before going back to sleep. Then he started taking longer and longer to go to sleep at bedtime, keeping me stuck in his room rocking and singing for an hour or more. And finally, in exhausted desperation at 10:00 one Tuesday night, I decided to let him cry for 15 minutes so I could lie down for just a little while. Then I gave him 15 more because he was tapering off. At the 31-minute mark, just as I was swinging my legs out of bed, he fell silent and made nary a peep until 6:30 the next morning.


The next time we had to use this technique was in the wee sma's the following Wednesday, after The Husband and I had each taken a turn rocking him for an hour. I set the timer for 31 minutes, and he yelled angrily for 11 of them, rested for 4, then let us know he was still mad, but FINE, he'd go to sleep. And he did. Until the next morning.

The night after that, he took two minutes. TWO MINUTES. I'm positive. I timed it.

Despite these obvious signals from Jack that he no longer required me to rock him to sleep, The Husband and I still planned to ease him into this new routine, probably because I hate change. Jack, on the other hand, is all for change, and over the last week I have come around to his point of view. He's just too big to be comfortable in my arms when I rock him; he needs his bed. So now for naps, bedtime, and any night-wakings, I rock and sing for a few minutes, then I put him in his crib and shut the door on my way out. He usually yells for a minute or two, and that's it.

The part I can't stop discussing with The Husband is how sometimes he falls silent mid-yell. I'm used to babies whose cries slowly taper off as they settle down to bed, but about 25% of the time, Jack says, "Aaaaaaauuuuggghhhh! Aaaaaaauuuuggghhhh! Aaaaaaauuuuggghhhh! Aaaaa-..... (silence)." It is extremely bizarre. The other part I can't stop discussing with The Husband is how unbelievably awesome this new system is. I know how long it is going to take to put him to bed for the night! Where I used to have only about 75% assurance that I'd be out of his room in 40 minutes or so, I'm now positive. And of course I realize that sometimes he'll wake back up or have a bad night or whatever, but this life is so much better than before. The odds that I will be stuck in his room for hours are next to nothing, because whatever the case, I'm going to have at least 31 minutes off.

Even better, Jack is obviously much happier. There was one morning during the weeks of bad sleep where I found him in the morning with dark, dark circles under his eyes. The poor child looked like he'd been up all night chasing No-Doz with shots of espresso. There are few things sadder to see. But these days, he's active, alert, chatty, and smiley**. And he knows the right answer to "Where's Mama?" even though he refuses to prove it for an audience. Ah, yes, life is good.

Dear God, I hope I didn't jinx it.

*My belief in jinxes is an interesting little idiosyncrasy, because I am not superstitious, and I am very disdainful of people who are. I'm a scientist! Superstitions aren't real! I am the type of person who demands to see a data set tracking the number of odd occurrences at different times of the month when someone attributes weird behavior to a full moon. I will always point out that people just count to three and then start over in response to the claim that bad things happen in threes. I walk laughingly under ladders in the house with my umbrella up while smashing mirrors and spilling salt, but when someone says, "Well, at least it can't get any worse," I cry out, "Shut up! Do you want to jinx it?" Because, apparently, I am also the type of person who is a hypocrite.

**And his smiles involve four teeth! Yes! The top two teeth I've been talking about for months have finally broken through! In an unrelated note, I find that a cool washcloth is wonderfully soothing to tiny teeth marks on my nipples.

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