Monday, April 7, 2014

Parenthood: Week 45 – 2 Hours

I just spent the last two hours trying to get Ollie to bed. Am I sure that he’s completely down right now? No, but I’m hoping.

Ollie had an amazing afternoon nap. So it made sense that he would go to sleep a little bit later. The thing was that around his normal bedtime he showed his signs of being tired: sucking his thumb, becoming cuddly and having wild mood swings. So I started the getting to bed process.

I got him changed into his pajamas while I warmed up some breast milk for him (Diana was out this evening). After he finished his bottle and read him a book, I started rocking Ollie to bed.

Once you figure out how to do something, life throws you for a loop and introduces something to you that you have no idea how to handle. This feeling of not knowing what to do happens weekly with parenting.

The worst part of this is that often the things that you are figuring out how to do are thing that you felt you already figured out. One of the things I’m really good at is putting Ollie to bed . . . or was good at. I really enjoy the process of rocking him down, singing to him and feeling his body relax in my arms.

Ollie has gotten bigger, so rocking him my arms things is harder and he just doesn’t need to be rocked all the way down to bed. About ten minutes ago, he was still awake and not quite settled so I just put him in his crib, maybe because of my exhaustion and after a couple murmurs he’s been quiet ever since.

I don’t like this. I wish that what worked before, what made me feel like a competent dad still worked but it doesn’t and that is frustrating.

I tried my best to rock him down. He wasn’t having it. The pacifier, which used to calm him down wasn’t working and he just kept crying. I did laps around the room, around the hallway, checked his diaper, and changed positions.

Nothing worked.

At a certain time, I fell asleep while he was fussing and awoke to him crying. Yes, you can fall asleep when a baby is crying, if you are THAT tired.

So after the first unsuccessful hour, I decided to get him more milk. So I warmed up another bottle in the kitchen, while he was crying in his playpen. While I stood in the kitchen, I didn’t really feel like trying to calm Ollie down. I was pretty frustrated and if holding him was going to have a calming effect then it should have worked for the past hour, so why would it work now? So I let him be.

Ollie drank the second bottle incredibly quickly and for a couple minutes he seemed to calm down. I started rocking and felt that we might actually get there.

Then everything fell apart.

Usually I hold Ollie’s arms to his side while I rock him but he really wanted to raise his left arm over his head, so I let him. This calmed him down a little bit, but then every time he moved it down he got frustrated so I had to help him hold his left arm up and also hold his right hand close to his mouth so he could suck on his thumb. Does that sound ridiculous to you to help an infant find his thumb to suck? You wouldn’t if periodically your son would move his arm and then not be able to find his thumb and start SCREAMING.

I was pretty done at this point. Maybe he needed another bottle or some baby Tylenol, or maybe . . . he just needed mommy. Well, mommy’s not here, so I told my little guy we’d have to get through this together without mommy.

I made some progress in calming him down but he wasn’t asleep or even drowsy. I told myself that I would put him in his crib and leave and if he didn’t go to sleep in the next ten minutes I would give him another bottle.

I laid Ollie in his crib and he looked up at me and smiled. He had his head up eager to crawl around and I tried to gently push his head down to encourage him to lie down. After some rolling around I eventually got him to settle his body down and find his thumb and helped position his arm over his head. I left his room and start writing this post.

That was seventeen minutes ago (yes, it takes me seventeen minutes to write 869 words) and he’s been quiet most of that time.

It may have took two hours, I may have felt like I had no idea what I was doing and for a while there I felt like a complete failure as a parent, but you know what, my boy is asleep. AND there’s only ten more minutes until Diana gets home and can take her turn if he wakes up.

Two hours to get Ollie to bed is nothing compared to what other parents have to deal with. I had food to give to Ollie to calm him down. Many parents, right now on this planet have to hear cries of hunger and can’t do anything for their kid but hold them and pray that God will comfort their baby.

I’ve had days when I left work before Ollie woke up and got home after he’s gone to bed. As good as those days went at work, they were incredibly difficult. It weighed on me that I wasn’t going to spend any time with him all day and when that happened, my day felt meaningless.

Without hesitation, I would give up the best part of a day that I didn’t see Ollie for two hours of frustration with my special little guy.

Why? Because Ollie is my son.

. . . and he’s still asleep!

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