Some babies just wake up one morning revealing a few pearly whites just breaking through their gums.
“Look mom, I have teeth!” They may smile at a reasonable hour. That mom will smile back with a bit of pride and a little sadness, thinking, ‘where did my little baby go!?’
That baby is not my baby. I am not that mom. I’m working off of about four and a half hours of sleep (which I used to pray for, but now, it’s not nearly enough), and this post may be all over the place. I am all over the place. My son was wearing pants this morning, but I forgot to put them on after a diaper change. I have named this day, ‘no baby pants Monday,’ as taking the extra fifty seconds in zipping and snapping them back into place seems far too arduous a task. His teeth have disrupted his sleep; his teeth have stolen my slumber as well. The sad irony of it all is that he still won’t eat solid food; all kinds of teeth and no food to chew.
Thank goodness he is so cute and sweet. I spent much of last night rocking with him attempting to console him. This morning, I was watching TV (I’ve also declared today a ‘do nothing productive day’ for mom), and I cried remembering how helpless he was just a few months ago, and how much he has grown. These nights won’t last forever; I keep remembering that soon enough he won’t need me, and I will miss these sleepless nights when he will let me rock him to sleep.
When I consider I used to do this every night (wake up in the middle of the night multiple times), I am amazed that I was able to get anything done in those early weeks. I suppose I was working off of adrenaline and toward my morning cup of coffee. I have been reminded over the last few weeks of the progression of waking up in the middle of the night with your baby.
It starts with denial. The monitor starts a light show of multiple colors at varying intervals. ‘How pretty,’ you may think. Sure, you hear a sad little cry and perhaps turn the volume down lower…hoping upon hope that your little one will put themselves back to sleep. Maybe you cover your face with a second pillow. Perhaps you keep your eyes closed in hopes that if you ignore the cries, you’ll get back to sleep. Sadly, the ‘ignore it and it will go away’ method only works if the cry lasts for ten seconds or less.
When you can still hear their cries five minutes later, you slip into night zombie mode. This is the stage where you may take the pillow off of your ear and coach yourself into standing up. Most of your coaching is audible, as you hope to wake your partner, but if said partner is male, they will sleep through your guttural noises, “ugh!?!” followed by a deep billowing sigh. Still nothing? Still crying? Try again. SIGH!!!!!! Your partner has just begun his ‘denial’ phase. Therefore, you begin the zombie shuffle toward the nursery.
When you enter the nursery, it is hard to continue the zombie shuffle….okay, okay, I’m awake. Thus starteth ‘Paci pong,” phase. You may put the pacifier in and that may do the trick. Even though my little guy can handily put his pacifier in his mouth (and take it out), sometimes, he can’t find it. Sometimes I can’t find it either and I have to dig into my paci stash. Sometimes, this doesn’t do the trick either.
If your baby is under three months old, this is usually when you start a night feeding. We’re past that. I don’t feed him at night so he doesn’t expect a meal at midnight. This is not an all you can eat, buffet, my dear. There are five plated meals during the day. If you’re hungry, you’ve got to wait until morning. Sorry, pal.
If my baby continues to cry inconsolably for more than fifteen minutes, I go into, my poor baby, what is wrong with you? mode. I get out the thermometer, Gripe Water, and the Infant Tylenol. I check to make sure he hasn’t had an accident. I rock him in hopes that he just needs a bit of encouragement.
An hour or two later, if he or she is still inconsolable, you may go into, what most folks call, ‘the white girl I can’t even’ mode. You may throw your hands up, put your baby in his or her crib, walk away, catch your breath, get a drink of water, fake like you’re just going to sleep through the crying (psych!), and get back into caretaker mode. Sometimes you can’t. even. Not even a little. Not after being up for a few hours. You may get irrationally exasperated, because NO ONE is rational between the hours of 2 and 5 a.m. Not even you, little mama.
Eventually (for me, about three-five minutes), you snap back into I’m determined to be the caretaker you need mode. Usually, that is when your babe will go back to sleep. It’s amazing how, when you calm down, your little one calms down.
In the meantime, I am looking at you, baby teeth. You better cut through so this mama can get some rest. What were your baby teething experiences?