Our Nefarious Sleep Routine

My brother-in-law owns an extremely expensive camera with some sort of whatsafiggy that lets him take time-lapse video. He’s also a fan of nature, so he plans to trek up to Alaska and do some time-lapse filming on the side of a glacier wall. I’m sure the final film will be visually fascinating and pensive. He’ll probably win an award.

But I think it would be much more amusing to set the camera up in our house and film how many times Susanne and I get up out of bed though the course of the night to deal with one baby issue or another.

Yes, I wait for the Wee One’s cues: yawning, a hand reaching up to slowly rub an eye, that stern expression that tells me he’s starting to fight his tiredness. Finally, after roughly five months, he is getting closer to a schedule. I do have quiet concerns that we’ll never really be on an actual schedule, kind of like those graphs in calculus where one is only ever approaching but never reaching infinity.

approaching infinity graph

First, I gather him up and re-check the facts of his condition. When did he eat last? How does his diaper feel? When was the last time someone smeared Oragel on his gums? Does he stink enough to need a bath?

Run through the list of requirements and address each in turn. Check. Now we have a snuggled, warm, clean, fed, freshly diapered infant. If the gums are causing him trouble, some pain remedy that is known to be safe for babies gets hauled out and applied. Check.

Next, soothing music on the iPod I used to call my own and that now clearly is his. Press a button on hard-backed turtle that splashes orange, green, or blue stars on the wall and ceiling. On goes the nightlight, off goes the other lights. Held gingerly between my thumb and forefingers is a pacifier in case it becomes necessary for Emile to relax. Let me tell you a story from one of the 37 board books in your nursery. Or sing Somewhere Over the Rainbow and Summertime for the nth time in your young life.

He coos at me, his eyelids drooping like heavy curtains. I pet my recently washed hands down his temple to his cheek and whisper to him.

“Daddy loves you. Mommy loves you. Grandma loves you. Meema loves you. Grandpa loves you. Aunt Kathy loves you…”

At some point, his eyes close and he gives a soft sigh, letting go of his teeny baby tension. He varies in the level of fight he gives me, and I figure he’ll eventually learn to love falling asleep. Just not yet.

I wait, breathing as quietly as I can and listening to the music in the air. Two minutes. Five. He’s definitely asleep.

Now I have to assess my position; which parts of my body, if I move them, could make significant noise? (Leave the jokes about crusty joint tissue in your own head.) I pull my hands off the side rail of the baby’s crib, and stand, then check his breathing. Steady—still sleeping. Whew.

Raising one leg with toes pointed like a ballet dancer, I plant my foot as far away as possible without increasing my risk of falling over before my second foot has moved. In one second I am under the door way to his room, and in two seconds I am in the 3-foot x 3-foot “hallway” outside.

Here comes the big trouble spot: the squeaky joist in the dining room. If this were a home I owned I’d have Mike Holmes from Holmes Inspection down in the basement to make sure my whole abode wasn’t about to come crashing down, but because I rent (muahaha) I tell myself not to fret.


I wait, all my weight on my rebuilt knee, hoping that the wee one is—

Darn it. I head back in, making shushing sounds ahead of my arrival, as if I can break the sound barrier and soothe him before I even get there.

Pacifier back in, caressing again. Don’t act exasperated or he’ll sense it. Calmness, comforting, serenity. Sleep is a gift to the human race, my little friend.

Five minutes later he is sleeping and I am making like a peasant in Don Quixote. I sidestep the Board That Shall Not Be Named and creep along the dining room wall until I reach the couch. While I am flopping onto the field of microfiber I momentarily forget that the living room shares a wall with Emile’s nursery.


Oh, please shoot me for being so stupid.

Back to the nursery. Hold pacifier, pet, stay serene. Serene serene serene. I am so serene I begin to scare myself. The next time I sit down to write I hope I don’t draft 700 pages of

All work and no play make Jack a dull boy.

Baby snores drift up to me; this is the point at which I myself might start snoozing. Point, pirouette, sneak sneak, sidestep, creep, settle gingerly on couch. Relax.

We will start the whole series over again as soon as the baby’s stomach starts looking for a snack. It’s a mini-cycle of life, and darn it, it should be caught on camera.

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Categories: Family


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