It’s 2:00. I have just put him down. I close the door and hear the first shriek. I hold my breath. I tiptoe away and go into my bedroom and grab the baby-monitor. Its little lights are blinking furiously as I pick it up and carry it to my ‘office.’ I sit down and turn on the volume. More shrieks, wails.
How could this be? He was so tired. He had such a good lunch. We were so active this morning. I have so much to do. He’s going to fall asleep. He’s going to just wear himself out. He just needs to calm down and then he will fall asleep. We are going to have a nap today. I did the naptime routine perfectly, I even emphasized the word, “sleep” each time it came up. I rocked, I sang, he will sleep. (This is Denial)
It’s 2:07, he pulls the handle on the little musical animal in his crib. A wonderfully saccharine version of “Hush Little Baby” reaches me over the monitor.
2:11, the thudding starts. He is banging on the sides of his crib. He’s throwing himself around. More crying. My nerves are frying. (Anger) I debate going in to soothe him to rock him again. My hope of getting something done is being crushed with each wail and note of the song from the music box, that is on round seven now.
2:14 I turn the sound off on the monitor. The rage subsides for a moment. I take a deep breath. I can do this. I will go in and rock him and sing to him. If I go in, he will sleep. We just got a bad start, I will be patient and kind and loving and I will rock him for as long as it takes, then he will nap. (Bargaining)
2:16 I take a deep breath and enter the room. He stops crying immediately and wiggles up the rail of his crib where I can reach him more easily. I pick him up and hold him against my chest. His face sticky and wet from his tears. I feel crappy, how could I let my baby cry. I snuggle him into my chest and start to rock in our chair. I remember the work I need to get done and a flush of anger runs through me. I remind myself to be patient, that I agreed not to hurry this phase of going to sleep.
2:19 I rock. I sing. I look down at him as he closes his eyes. I breathe. Ahhh. This is working. I feel his weight in my arms and the fuzzy warmth of his sleep sack against my hands. His breath deepens and evens out. Just a few more breaths and he will be gone, 1.. 2…3… 4…
2:28 I look down. His eyes are open. His beautiful, amazing, little eyes are f-ing open!
His eyes catch mine. He smiles. I can’t help but laugh, it’s part love, part defeat. He just needs a few more minutes. I look away. I rock, I pat.
2:35 I dare to look down again. He looks up. I am seething. I need to get stuff done. This is my time. I waited until the perfect time. He was sleepy, but not too sleepy. I did the routine. He doesn’t have a poop – I confirm again. How can this be happening? I agree to rock for two more minutes. His eyes close.
2:43 I look down. They stay closed. I can do this. I take some deep breaths and remind myself not to hurry. I walk him over to his crib and gently place him down. He starts to fuss. I make for a quick getaway, but I am losing hope fast (Depression).
2:45 I’m back at my desk. I look at the monitor. Flashing lights. I consider that the work in front of me is not going to get done. Sadness. Despair. What can I do with a cranky, tired baby until dinner time tonight? I’ll put him to bed early. The afternoon still does not seem very attractive. We could go in the car? He won’t want to go to bed early. I want to curl up in a ball. I am defeated.
2:46 I raise my head off my desk. I look at the monitor. The lights flash. I dash off one quick e-mail. I stand up and do a big stretch. I walk to his room, slowly, deliberately. (Acceptance)
2:49 I pick him up. He stops crying. I pat him and cuddle him and I turn on the light. He smiles. He has won. I am angry, I am frustrated, I am sad and my heart melts. I wipe a tear off his cheek as he babbles to me. I unzip the sleep sack. I take another breath and begin to imagine the afternoon. Perhaps a short drive is in the cards. I will have the cutest and most charming driving companion this side of the Mississippi.