Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Unswaddle Me

My name is Mama K, and I am a recovering swaddleholic. Ever since Little S was born, and we discovered that following the swaddle/shush routine instantly silenced Little S’s still wimpy cry, I was hooked. At a mere 6 lbs, even my crappy attempt at a blanket swaddle would keep Little S content for hours. We were so proud of ourselves that we would demonstrate the swaddle/shush routine to family who were shocked and amused by the resulting drug-like induced state Little S entered. I praised Dr. Karp’s “Happiest Baby on the Block” (which I admittedly didn’t read but did watch in total disbelief for about 2 minutes in a parenting class).

Everyone I knew that had a little one was obsessed with swaddling. It stopped the crying and put the little ones to sleep – even my refluxy (and at that time still undiagnosed) Little S. The swaddle was responsible for my few precious moments of peace (you know, when you brush your teeth, go to the bathroom and stuff cheerios in your mouth – just one example of the luxurious side of motherhood).

The problem was that Little S kept growing (ok, I realize that is a good thing) and eventually neither near-perfect Papa K nor I could keep her in that swaddle blanket. Yes, I know that people have 11 month olds tightly wrapped in those same blankets, but during that part of the parenting class, Papa K ad I were discussing take-out dinner options.

So, I read every parenting forum in search of the perfect swaddle and bought them all. Each worked for a period of time and would restore the (limited amount of) peace to the household. But, as Little S figured out each one, I would lose (even more) sleep wondering how I could keep her in one so we could all sleep. I panicked . . . constantly. To those that told me that maybe your child is trying to tell you something, I just laughed! I knew what my perfect Little S wanted. She wanted to be restrained. She wanted this peace. She didn’t want to be slapped around all night by her hands.

During the fourth month, we hit a major sleep regression (which I have been told time and time again is totally normal). It was serious. We’re not talking “not sleeping through the night.” We’re talking every 20 minutes waking up to Little S screaming from 12 AM to 5 AM (no, she wasn’t hungry – tried that). Papa K was becoming far less perfect as each day went by, and well, I was never that close to perfection.

Every time Little S woke up crying, we had to reswaddle her. It was true physical labor. And, then, she would (ever so briefly) fall asleep. At first, I took this as proof that she needed/loved/adored the swaddle. But, after 3.5 weeks, I realized that maybe – JUST MAYBE – she really didn’t want the swaddle.

So, on a Friday night when Papa K was out of town, I took a brave step and put Little S down in a sleep sack. None of this one arm at a time nonsense. All or nothing baby.

She cried, and she hit herself repeatedly in the face and . . . then

She rolled over for the first time . . .

And she found that she liked sleeping like her Papa – on her belly.

Sweet dreams Little S (ok, so maybe it wasn’t that simple but it was far easier than what we had been doing).

The only problem is that I am now totally addicted to the sleep sack. And, I might be the only one since the other day, I put Little S down in the crib without one while I ran to go grab one and returned to find her sound asleep.