Their Bad Mother

Day 77…

Night before last, swaddle intact. Last night, busted out once. I think that the score is just about even.

Ha. Who am I kidding? I lost the battle of wills with my daughter about 10 seconds after she was born. But I soldier on, as I must. She at least has to THINK that I’m in charge.

Did some research on swaddle-weaning. Turns out that most swaddlers never wean – they just keep on swaddling ’til they lose the battle, ’til, presumably, Baby’s will to be unswaddled defeats her own dependence on the swaddle (and, presumably, Mommy’s will to swaddle.)

This baby still needs the swaddle. Despite her determination to free herself, it is absolutely essential to her sleeping comfort. The minute she frees herself, she’s miserable – she’s like an escaped convict who’s hit the other side of the wall and immediately collapses in fear, sobbing until the guards come shackle her up again. (I know that that doesn’t happen in real life. I think. At least, it’s not going to happen on Prison Break.)

Yes, I’m the guard in that analogy. Note that I’m not even the warden. I don’t know who that would be. Not my husband. Maybe one of the cats.

Anyway. The swaddle – her prison – is necessary to her sleepy well-being. But she clearly doesn’t appreciate it (as with all good/necessary things in childhood/adolescence, I suppose.) I can hear myself already – and it’s shrill – “It’s for your own good!!!

Other things I can hear my future self say:

“I carried you for over 10 months!” (41 weeks. That last week was a whole new circle of hell. Or so I thought, until I went into labour…)

“I was in labour 36 hours with you!” (And the experience will still defy description 16 years from now. Lucky her.)

“I breastfed you for — months!” (Still counting on that one. I’ll probably exaggerate this number. I won’t exaggerate the numbers above – in the first case, because if she’s half as clever as I think she’ll be she’ll never believe that I carried her for, say, 16 months. And in the second case, because 36 hours stills seems perfectly respectably hellish to me.)

“I was up all day and all night with you when you were a baby!” (See previous postings. This is maybe something of an exaggeration. She’s a good sleeper. If I’m up all night it’s because I’m obsessive about her breathing, her spitting up, her swaddle, her future, etc, etc…)

“I changed your diaper!” (Oh did I ever. And believe me she is going to hear about the turbo-poo. As will all of her boyfriends. Yes, I know that I’m going to mess her up. My mother did me. Fair is fair.)

And so on. All of which will be followed by – “and this is the thanks I get!?!?”


Do not…

… be fooled by the very adorable, peaceful, unswaddled frog-pose here. Moments after this picture was taken, her arms and legs flailed out into sky-diver pose, and then immediately retracted into a spectacular head-punch. Scored a 9.8 from the Canadian judge.

Originally posted at Her Bad Mother, 2006. Copyright Catherine Connors 2006 – 2009.

She bust out of her swaddle three times last night. THREE. And not just any ordinary swaddle – we’re talking Miracle Blanket swaddle, which is to say, full-on baby straightjacket. She’s done this before – the Husband swears that she can dislocate her shoulders, a la Houdini, to get out – but three times is the record. No matter how carefully and tightly I wound it, she got out.

I’m not torturing her, I swear. Yes, she’s demonstrating her will to NOT be bound by breaking out. But unbound, she punches herself in the head in her sleep and – duh – wakes herself up. She simply won’t stay asleep unbound. And it’s a failsafe way to calm her down, especially when she’s really sleepy and fighting it. I’m dreading weaning her off the swaddle, actually. The books say to stop swaddling when Baby begins to refuse or express dislike for the swaddle – !!! – which is one of the least helpful (on a list of many) pieces of baby advice I’ve read. Seriously – she’s the last person we should be asking, because as the books ALSO say, she doesn’t know how to put herself to sleep. And so we have to both teach her to get herself to sleep, and get her to sleep before she knows how to sleep. Which is all the more complicated given that she is a world-class squirmer. And a head-puncher. So we’re putting off weaning her from the swaddle. Because where there’s no swaddle right now, there’s no sleep…

And where there’s no sleep for Baby, there’s no sleep for Mommy. Because when she’s awake (or even partly awake, or – let’s be straight-up here – in anything other than a deep sleep), I’m awake. So really, this is all about me.

Sleep is a distant memory. Of course, this is no surprise. What is the surprise is what it feels like. I’m a longtime insomniac, so I stupidly thought that the nighttime parenting gig would be no biggie. Been there, done that three a.m. thing. But being awake to care for a whimpering, squirming, sometimes wailing midget who depends on you totally is an entirely different matter. It’s exhausting, sometimes backbreaking, depending on the squirm factor. And no matter how badly you want to sleep, you can’t, or at least not until you’ve calmed the squirming midget. (Yes, it is like a bad dream. One you can’t wake up from. Oh the irony.)

And therein lies the true irony – the vicious, vicious irony. You (the former insomniac) want to sleep. Badly. And you would be so able to sleep. You know with every bone in your body that if you could – just – put – down – head – please – for – one – minute – you would be dead asleep.

But you can’t. And it’s torture. Because you know that this is no deferral of sleep – it’s not as though you’ll get sleep in, or spend a weekend in bed, or nap for a whole afternoon in front of the TV, to catch up on your sleep. Ever. Again. This sleeplessness is for keeps. (Or at least until college). And that’s rough. So rough.

But then again, there is, always, always, this part…

Seriously. I would do anything for that face. I would forgo sleep for an eternity. (OK, maybe not – but I’d stay awake a long long time just to look at that face.)

On a completely separate note – is it just me, or is gripe water basically just baby Jagermeister?

Originally posted at Her Bad Mother, 2006. Copyright Catherine Connors 2006 – 2009.