It’s Tired In Here.

April 29th, 2008 by Rainey

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I guess I should begin doing some sort of “Where’s Waldo” type of blog game to see how many references to “Arrested Development” I can fit into my posts. Oh well.

So we have a big baby. He is, some would say, large and in charge. He was born 6 lbs. 9 oz. and 20 inches long. On average, on the smaller side. Which would lead you to believe that he would stay small. But, as someone has told me, I must have some powerful milk. Because my baby has grown like a weed. At his four month check-up he was 17 lbs. 14 oz. and 26.25 inches long. That is actually almost 6 pounds and four inches more than he was just two months before. That is a mighty growth spurt, my friends.

It is because of that mighty growth spurt that, when all the development books said he would be perhaps dropping out his middle of the night feeding, he decided to add a few instead. Just like his daddy already….a thwarter of all expectation. Oh well.

Now that he is leveling off a bit, people still feel inclined to give us all sorts of advice to help us help him “sleep through the night.” By definition, sleeping through the night is sleeping 5-6 hours for babies. Folks, we put the child to bed at 7:30 pm. Even if he “sleeps through the night” he ain’t sleeping through the night, if you know what I’m saying. So whatever. We get up two or three times a night to feed him. He has not dropped his middle of the night feeding. At times we think he never will. But we know that in the twinkling of an eye all of this will change yet again. So we don’t get all that upset with the situation anymore. Much.

But like I was saying, our eyerolls and tired yawns when we speak about our less than restful nights, seem to elicit more unwarranted advice than I have ever experienced before. As if there is a one size fits all solution to baby sleep. Please.

Here are some of the pearls of wisdom we have received as of late:

“Have you tried giving him a little cereal?” No. No we haven’t. Our doctor recommended waiting until he was six months old to give him solids because it cuts down on food allergy risks.

“Have you let him cry it out?” What the hell?! No. No we haven’t. Because, call us crazy, we can’t lie in our beds and listen to our baby cry when we know that all he wants is for us to hold him, nurse him, love him, and reassure him and he will go right back to sleep. He is four and a half months old, people! Even the “Ferberizers” out there don’t recommend crying it out until they are at least six months old.

“Have you given him some formula in addition to your breastmilk?” No. No we haven’t. I struggled with breastfeeding for the first two months of Zeke’s life. It was not fun. It was not a pleasurable experience. (Maybe more on that at some point.) But I stuck with it. Now it is one of the most joyful, bonding things I can do with my son. I’ll be damned if I give him formula NOW, after all of that.

I guess the real kicker with all of this is that the people who are giving us this advice care about us and just want to help.

Sure, it is frustrating to have your parenting techniques second-guessed by random people, like the anger management counselor who, passing through the church office one day to pick up a key, decided to tell me all about how she gave her baby cereal the first night he came home from the hospital and he slept through the night from that day forth. (“Great,” I wanted to say, “Way to give your infant something his body could not yet digest. Something that would just lay in his stomach like a rock. Good times.” BUT…I didn’t.) I took her advice with a grain of salt because a.) I had never met the woman before in my life. b.) Her lipstick was on crooked and c.) She also told me she had let her son teethe on a chicken leg.

But there are also a lot of well meaning friends who give us advice. And there is really no good way to respond. I am not going to be rude. I am not going to agree to try what they suggest. So, in my best “pastoral” practice I simply duck and cover, evading their comments with little nods in their general direction as I press on to safer conversational territory.

So here we are. We are going to deal with the strange and unpredictable sleep patterns of our son. We are going to keep reminding ourselves that “the nights are long but the years are short.” And I am going to just keep smiling politely and saying, “Hunh. I’ll have to think about that. Thanks!” and try to steer the conversation back to what they brought to the covered dish dinner.

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