Sunday, April 22, 2007

painting the picture

My son started out life a difficult napper. He was truly a joy in most every other way. The napping was a point of contention and stress. Even now I can see it in people's eyes when I tell them he would only nap if we held him. They don't believe us. They think we were pushovers, a soft touch, easily manipulated by our infant. I recently wrote to a family member about this topic with the intent of trying to make ourselves understood. It's really unbelievable until you've lived it, as many wonders of nature can be. I thought I would post it here too, for friends, family, and anyone who is interested. We were not crazy, I swear it! =0)

O was an intensely light napper. For a very long time he woke up every time we put him down for a nap. We tried everything to comfort him where he lay and coax him back to sleep (pats on the back, singing, jiggling, different kinds of pacifiers, a bottle, a nipple from a bottle, a blanket, no blanket, the bassinet in different places, etc.). Nothing worked. Once he was awakened by being put down he was incredibly difficult to get back to sleep. It was as if he thought he'd had his nap and didn't need to sleep anymore. Yet, he was still tired and therefore cranky. At that point it was a choice between working very hard for a long time to get him back to sleep, or letting him stay awake and be cranky. All this was happening while we were exhausted too, so to say it was frustrating is an understatement. We also tried every kind of place to put him down. I tried the floor, the bassinet, the sofa, our bed, me lying with him in our bed, the car-seat, the swing, etc. The only other things that worked where the sofa (only a few times those first months), the swing, and our arms. In the two plus years I worked in childcare with infants I probably put babies to sleep a hundred times or more. I understand about their sleep cycles and that they have to be in a particular part of the cycle, in many cases, to sleep through being put down.(I have even put to sleep babies who were going through withdrawal from crack their mothers' had taken while pregnant. Those are the crankiest babies on the planet, by far.) We tried everything in this regard as well. We put O down at every different stage of sleep, in every posture we could think of, and still he would wake up. In terms of looking for help we researched all over the Internet, had friends searching, talked to other parents, talked to our Pediatrician. What we learned is that some babies are just like this. Some babies can only nap in someones arms. They all grow out of it but all at different ages. Every post, every article I read, and even my pediatrician words about it said that it is a rare but harmless phenomenon and that you should just try to enjoy holding your babe while they are still little. Before learning this I was depressed that other people thought it was my fault and incredibly stressed because I thought I HAD to get him to sleep alone as so many people who had never dealt with this quirk would tell me. Once I accepted that my baby was very special in this way and there was nothing I could do about it, the stress vanished and I enjoyed him so much more. That's not to say that it wasn't difficult. I did often feel somewhat tied down. But I adapted and was able to set myself up with the computer and things to read while he slept on me. This was when I learned about photo editing and was responsible for the work I'm doing now with photography. These times became a break for me because he was getting the sleep he needed and I got to focus on things other than him for a while, even if I had to stay physically stationary. It wasn't the best of circumstances, but it's how my babe worked and how he needed us to be there for him. I'm glad I was able to do that for him. I'm glad I learned to accept him the way he was and had faith that he would eventually be ready to nap on his own. He has made great strides but its not all perfect yet. He has only napped in his crib once so far, and only for 30mins. He has been napping in our bed with me for the last week and a half. Part of that is because he is sick, and he even wants to be close to us at night. He is on the road to independence where napping is concerned tho, I'm sure of that.


Anonymous said...

get it!

Larissa said...

You definitely sound much more "at peace" re: Owen's napping style. Sometimes it just takes the realization that "Oh he's just this way" to make it all okay. :)