Bumps in the Road
June 7th, 2016
Who said parenting was hard? That person is nuts! Just kidding, parenting can be tough, but again it is all about perspective. When you have a sick child it can be tricky to determine whether fussiness is due to their disease or if fussiness is due to normal baby things (teething, gas, etc). We are at the point now where the normal baby things are a breeze. I have seen first time parents jump at any sniffle with their babies and we have been so over that. When you have to be on guard for things like: blood in the stool, fever due to intestinal infection, jaundice worsening, rashes, excessive itching, fluid in the abdomen, loss of appetite, etc; a quick sniffle or whimper doesn’t phase you anymore. All of this doesn't mean we haven’t had our fair share of “hair pulling” moments caused by normal baby things throughout Isla’s first half of a year.
The Four Month Regression
“Man we have an easy baby.” “She can basically take care of herself.” Those were some of the common statements Katie and I used to make in the first few months of Isla’s life. In the grand scheme of things, that is still mainly the case, but we hit a little speed bump at four months. Leading up to four months Isla would cry if she was hungry, she would cry if she was poopy, and she would cry a little when she was sleepy. In fact, most of the time she would just pass out wherever she was or on whomever she was on when she got tired. I swear, she could be sleeping on a hungry shark in the middle of a bump’n rave concert. We soon realized that allowing her to dictate when she was sleeping (or not) was a huuuuge mistake. It was sometime in February, Katie and I were arriving home from a trip to Halifax (I will refer to Halifax as the “city” from now on. (Typing three less letters caters to my laziness so well). On this particular night, It was much later than Isla’s 6-7pm bedtime when we started the bedtime routine. The routine was as follows:
|1. heat up a bottle of milk|
|2. start running the bath water to a perfect temperature (we learned that the perfect temperature was reached when the first thing Isla did when her butt touched the water was to let the pee rip)|
|3. plop Isla in the bath (plastic tub-like structure with a fabric ramp)|
|4. dry her off in her Klu Klux Klan-like towel (essentially has a hood on it which raises to the notorious pointed top like that lovely group of outstanding citizens)|
|5. baby massage (“It puts the lotion on it’s skin”)|
|6. clean that stinky surprise off her bum, leg and back|
|7. feed her the bottle (feed her the "milk" from the bottle for all of you literal folks)|
|8. read her a story (if it’s mom’s turn) or do a little dance with her (if it’s dad’s turn)|
|9. wrap her like a mummy in her Swaddle Me blanket|
|10. turn on the mobile’s light and music|
|11. top it all off with a soother in the mouth|
Is it just me or does everyone else automatically think of Maggie from The Simpsons as soon as their baby starts sucking on her soother or dumb-tit or pacifier or sookie; whatever the hell you call it? (I have grown fond of dumb-tit ever since I heard that name a few months back. I think it caters to my child-like sense of humour or as some people call it “immaturity”). Unfortunately, this night was different. Usually she lets off a long comforting sigh and tinkle as soon as we sit her in the warm bath (much like the sound daddy makes when he passes a large amount of gas), but tonight she was fussing and crying… ok, we’ll chalk that up as a fluke (maybe I bumped her leg when I sat her in the bath). Usually she looks up at me with that creepy smile (as stated in the blog introduction) when I lay her on her changing pad for a poop wipe, good-luck bum spank, and an anti-bum rash lubing, but tonight she was shrieking as soon as her head touched down… ok, now this is getting a bit out of the ordinary. Usually she rolls her eyes to the back of her head while we feed her that perfectly warmed bottle of milk, but tonight she was choking on it while she was crying in between gulps… shit! What the shit is going on with her? This was our first anxiety rendering experience of: “is her disease causing her pain?” “Is this just something normal for babies and our lack of experience is getting the best of us?” We tried everything. Group hugs, pep talks (“You can do this Isla, we believe in you!” “Please go to sleep or your mom and I are going to take up heroin as a hobby”), more milk, dances, double wrapping her swaddle, turning the room temperature up, turning the room temperature down, singing her lullabies… Oh! Dad to the rescue… she always settles when we put her in her car seat and swing her back and forth… NOPE… didn’t work… Holy son of a Vondruke! It was getting to be close to 3am now and Katie and I were starting to get cranky with each other. There were moments we were just sitting there with blood shot eyes, swaying back and forth, staring at a blank wall, with our hair pulled out of our heads and a baby screaming in the background. Well there’s only one more thing I can think of… let’s go for a drive for as long as it takes. I’ll fucking drive to China if I have to (by the way, a lot of the baby materials I mentioned above are on my Amazon store, check it out on the bottom of this webpage!).
Let’s Go Do a “B” & “E”
There is not much area to drive in our small town of 6,094 people (yeah I just Googled that and that was the population in 2011, do some’in!). If we drove through the greater Annapolis Valley area we would have a whole lot more terrain to cover surrounded by farmlands and mountains, but I didn’t want to take any chances. If we finally got this devil child to sleep I was pulling a U-turn (a Granny-like slow-ass U-turn as to not disturb our sleeping beauty) and we were going to drive the car right into her nursery, car seat and all (so we did not have to lift her out of her car seat to place her in bed. Protect the sleep!) We just finished our 50th lap around Paddy’s Pub (that one-way stretch of road which goes in a circle in downtown Kentville and probably totals 1 km). All of a sudden the crying stopped, thank the lord almighty. Katie reached to the back where Isla was sitting and performed her routine “check if she’s breathing” check. (Get off your high horse people, you know how ridiculous it is, but you’ve still done it). FINALLY! she was out cold (asleep, that is). We were on the home-stretch, literally, and all of a sudden I noticed an ominous sight ahead. God Dammit! It was a fucking road block. The blue and red lights were flashing, the cops were laughing and flashing their flashlights in the car windows (I guess it was 4am on a Saturday night and there are drunks out there thinking they are Nascar drivers). What freaking luck we have! If they only knew the shit storm they could potentially cause. Yes, I thought about it:
“Should I rev this SUV up to it’s zero to sixty in 50 minutes, fly through this traffic stop like we just performed a break and entry, flip the cops the bird as we blow past them, enjoy our next 12 months in jail while Isla gets a nice cozy room in a foster home at 4 months old?”
Yeah probably not the best idea, but believe me, it was intriguing. Instead we begrudgingly pulled up to the traffic stop like the good obedient citizens we are, I rolled down the window, and the officer flashed his light in. I didn’t realize it at the time, but the officer probably had his own thoughts the instant his flashlight illuminated our vehicle:
“Two citizens, visibly distressed, messy hair, dishevelled clothing, maybe domestic dispute, ask the driver if he has been drinking, ask the woman in the passenger seat if everything is alright, put your hand on your gun and... hold on.”
Then he shined the light into the back seat where a baby was peacefully sleeping, immediately understands (must be a father himself) and says with a sympathetic tone:
“Have a good night folks.”
We arrived back home and luckily Isla was still snoozing. We turned the car off, closed the car doors like we were trying to close them on a balloon without popping it, took Isla out of her carseat in a sloth-like fashion and ventured into her nursery. I think we got as far as her nursery door and: “WAAAAAAAAAAA WAAAAAAA!” I think both of our hearts skipped a few beats and we almost passed out with exhaustion. The anxiety set in again and we began to worry about her health. Maybe she was in pain? We should give the GI clinic a call tomorrow, just to be safe. The rest of the night was a blur, but I remember sometime between 5am and 6am Katie decided to strip down to her skivvies and cuddle with Isla on the couch. After about 20 minutes of the skin-to-skin cuddling I remember the crying subsided and I was dreaming.
Do Some Research Ya Dumbasses
We woke up a few hours later. The day was back to normal as well as our lovely little lady. Katie decided to do a little research and found an article on “4 month sleep regression.” Essentially, when a baby hits approximately the four month mark their brain gets to a certain level of development where they will wake themselves up. Their sleep cycles begin to get all out of whack and some start having night terrors. I was a little skeptical at first, but I was willing to do anything in order to avoid another night of terror like the previous one. The advice from the linked website provided a solution. They recommended that babies need to be put on a sleep schedule from the time they are born. When they are Isla’s age it was recommended to have her stay fed and woken up early in the morning. Do not allow her to stay awake for any longer than an hour and a half in between naps and have her nap no longer than two hours, but no shorter than an hour. You continue this routine of napping-awake-feeding schedule until they are about 6 months old and then you start to lengthen the awake duration. This all seemed like a lot of work, but I am here to say: Isla is now almost 7 months old and I stick to this schedule like it’s a fanatical religion. I have it built into my alarm clock on my cell phone and besides the couple of times her fussiness actually was caused by her disease progression (keep an eye out for these updates in the next few blog posts), there have been no more issues with sleeping at night. During our regular monthly clinic visits to see the GI folks we can confidently say:
“Isla sleeps well, barely ever fussy, eats well, man we have an easy baby, she can basically take care of herself.”
So, from one newbie to another, get those little punks on a schedule. It will save your sleep, sanity and keep you out of jail.
Sleep Regression Article