The Final Frontier

There are three variables that must be managed to raise a human child. Energy intake, waste removal and unit recharging. During the course of these past five months the first two have vexed us at the Trixie Update to no end. Longtime readers will recall the saga of Milk Week and all the work that the milk cycle entails. And of course who can forget the excretory nightmare of diaper explosions, leaks and general messiness as the diaper count numbered in the thousands. But these previous conditions pale in comparison to the duress and trauma caused by the third variable — Sleep.

It should have been obvious from the start. Milk and Bottle management? It takes a long time to starve. There’s always time to recover if we messed up a little. And the rest is just a little bit of soapy water and elbow grease. Diapers? Again, humans have lived in filth for centuries before modern times. At least we have the benefit of a washing machine. But sleep, that’s a whole other animal. How long can the human body function without sleep? A day? Maybe two – but what kind of decisions do you make under those conditions? Sleep deprivation takes an incredible toll on the body, and that is why Trixie’s sleep cycle has become the final frontier.

Trixie slept with us the first 3 1/2 months. This was not the ideal sleep situation according to half the parenting books out there, but the other half said it was ok. Our bed presented its own set of problems. A super-soft, pillowtop mattress with lots of pillows, blankets and two giant bodies surrounding Trixie is pretty much the textbook SIDS situation. The only thing that could make it more dangerous would be to throw in a nice big pile of cat hair. Still, she managed to survive and we enjoyed having the little peanut to snuggle with until she started to kick us at all hours of the night. Thus began the transition to the crib.

We let her cry herself to sleep in the crib. It’s painful to listen to at first, but after a couple of days you get used to it and after a week or so, it actually becomes pretty hilarious. All you are doing is gently laying her down in a nice warm baby-sized sleep space and she’s screaming like a cat being butchered. It does get funny. I understand it’s going to be even funnier when language is throw into the mix and she starts screaming “Help ME! Save ME!” in these benign situations.

The biggest problem in the crib transition brings us back to the first variable: food. When she was sleeping with us, Jennifer could feed her at any time during the night with very little effort. Now there’s lots of stumbling around in the dark, and bad decisions are made at 3 in the morning about whether we should put her back in the crib or take her to bed with us.

We are now acting under pediatrician’s orders not to feed Trixie between midnight and 5am. If she wakes up at 3am, we can go say hello and maybe tuck her in again, but no food. This schedule appeared to work pretty well leading up to the holidays and then it all went to hell. We’re still trying to recover but it seems that Trixie is totally regressing. And this is how things stand today. Every night is unpredictable but we continue to slog ahead with our sleep campaign dreaming of victory.

Coming Soon: Sleep Charts!

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7 Responses to The Final Frontier

  1. jennifer says:

    I am Amanda’s sister (of Amanda, Charlie & Henry). I have been following Trixie since the beginning and this website is part of the daily routine. (Trixie also has fans in DC, Virginia and Wlimington NC) Anyway, I have a 4year old who STILL thinks it is ok to sleep with Mama. Take it from one who is still suffering…it is cute & sweet now but stick her narrow behind in the crib. It may break your heart (or you burst your eardrums) but trust me it is so worth it.

  2. hannah says:

    It is a long road to victory in this battle, as Jennifer above has indicated. It’s unclear what victory even is in this struggle. Longer naps would be a great start, but then you’d take them for granted and lust for even more sleep predictability and just more sleep for everyone generally. I was glad to see that you and Trixie are trying to work out this power struggle in today’s (1/8/04)pic of the day. I just wasn’t sure who was asserting dominance over whom. Who is the alpha-bitch over there? I know who it is in my house and her small size belies her might powers. The parents are behind you – a victory for you would give us all hope.

  3. Nadine says:

    I can’t possibly believe that a small baby crying herself to sleep is funny – even to the coldest individual on the planet.

    How horrid.

  4. benmac says:

    Yeah, it’s true. Captain Cold, Mister Freeze and I and sit around my icy lair laughing about that stuff all the time.

  5. Ed B. says:

    Each night the crying gets a little weaker, so release yourself now before you’ve got a real situation on your hands.

  6. Sarah says:

    My only question is why did you listen to the doctor? The doctor doesn’t have to live with the baby and it’s not his/her kid! I can see why you may have had problems.

    I am hoping my 3 month old naturally grows accustomed to a schedule of waking at 7 am and going to bed around 6 or 6:30 pm. Right now she is doing what Trixie was doing waking up once in the night.

    I believe 8 pm was too late to put Trixie to bed and 6 or 6:30 is a better time. The book Healthy Sleep Habits Happy Child was probably not out a few years ago (not sure) but it is what I am going by and so far seems to be working okay. I have been lucky though…my 3 month old is a very easy baby so far.

    I came here to look for information on what I might expect in the future but I am going to take a positive attitude and that your doctor was wrong.

    I had the doctor already tell me ditsy things that I just know isn’t right and will ignore. Like let her cry through a feed because she wants to eat every 2 hours instead of 4 during the day…. So what! She eats a lot in the day but she sleeps a lot at night to make up for it.

    Last night she went to bed at 7 pm to 2:30 am and then she slept until 5:30 am and then I got her up at 7 am for the day. She took an earlier nap today at 8:30 am instead of 9 but that’s okay.

    She’s taking hour long naps now when at first I could only get her to take a nap for half an hour.

    Feed the baby when she is hungry no matter what time is another rule I have. My husband wanted to put her on a schedule but I said no and I feel this is best. I read on demand is healthiest for babies.

    I like your site and am impressed with Jenn’s pumping because I’m going through the pumping now and it is a killer. Can’t play with the baby and have to put her in the swing because I have to pump. Not fun. I don’t let my baby cry much and haven’t had many problems with her. I let her complain a bit sometimes in the afternoon when she gets fussy and she’s already started to teeth but never cry for long. I have laughed over crying too but only if you’ve done everything else and don’t know what is wrong. She then gets put in the swing and as soon as she falls asleep I take her to her crib.

    I know every child is different but if you have another one you might want to check out the book I mentioned. Only thing the book is wrong about is the baby does stay up longer than 2 hours and I don’t see that there is anything that can be done about it. I just go with the flow and don’t see how I can make her sleep. It seems to work out…but then again my baby is an angel. Well aren’t they all?


  7. benmac says:

    Hi Sarah,
    Thanks for the comments. It’s hard to know what’s the best thing for every kid, but in retrospect, the ‘no food between midnight and 5am’ worked out pretty well for us. But I realize it might not be for everyone. Good luck with the sleep schedule and thanks for visiting 🙂