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Evolution to Dino

August 3, 2010

Some people equate “easy babies” with “good babies.” They ask questions like “Is he a good baby? Does he sleep really well?”

And then I stare at them until they collapse under the power of my wrathful, twitchy gaze.

Your baby’s life goal might be to sleep narcoleptically, and that might be my life goal, too. But just because my baby’s isn’t doesn’t mean that my baby is a “bad” baby. My baby is an interesting baby. He might even be an ambitious baby. He’s got things to do, people. Things to do, and despite that he was not an easy sleeper at first, he could not have been a better baby.

When Henry was born, he wouldn’t even fall asleep on us. We had to tie him into a bundle, aka, swaddle him, in order to get him to sleep. Well, that was the first choice, and it worked sometimes. The second was to strap him into his carseat, and put him into a swing that the carseat clicked into, and rock him as fast as possible, sometimes adding some manual effort to the battery powered device. We were afraid that what was happening is that we were stunning the poor thing to sleep, but we didn’t see a lot of options.

Naps were . . . actually, naps WEREN’T; That would be the most concise way of describing the first four months. I often think that trying to implement naps was the hardest I have ever worked in my life. It was unparalleled exhaustion because I had a sneaking suspicion that I would fail. Suspicions: confirmed! The most famous nap took an hour to induce and lasted nine minutes, which was not even long enough for me to shove a piece of toast into my mouth.

At one point later on when he was napping pretty regularly, I interviewed a babysitter who admit that her children’s teeth were riddled with cavities out because she only fed them fruit roll-ups. I raised my eyebrows, but I didn’t show her the door, because I was wondering, wow, what else will she say? Then she told me that her kids “never really napped,” they just “didn’t seem to get on a schedule.”

What umbrage I took from this. I, who had worked so hard, not to devise my own schedule, but to support whatever schedule my child was gravitating to, and I read ill-written books, and researched all sorts of swaddling contraptions, and forewent bathing most days so as not to make too much noise outside of his room when he was actually sleeping, decided that this woman and I would not work together.

Perhaps I will write a blockbuster movie, and it will be called Blood Nap.


I never wanted to be that parent, the one who was so guarded and insane about her child’s sleep. But guess what, I am, and nice to meet ya!

Once Henry was asleep, there were (um, are) noise machines, and lullaby cds, and NO MOVEMENT OR TALKING by the adults. Because if you move or bathe, you will be the victim of a nine minute nap. I can assure you of this. I once accused my husband, during a nap, of “pouring water too loudly,” though we were through two closed doors with plenty of noise machines.

And instead of having me institutionalized, he accused ME of pouring water too loudly 5 minutes beforehand. That is what things were like. We are both that parent.

Ironically, the baby slept through our argument.


When we confessed to the doctor that our son was sleeping in a swing in our room at about four months old, she suggested that we move him out of our room and put him into a crib. My child? Flat? You must be some sort of crazy witch doctor, if you think that my child is going to sleep flat.

Of course he could sleep flat, just just needed to be used to it. Finally, we moved to having Henry sleep flat in a cradle.


Onto the next crutch, which was a Wubbanub. A Wubbanub is a genius invention: a Soothie pacifier with a tiny stuffed animal sewn to it. So you can stroke the wings of your miniature penguin while you suck yourself to sleep. It seems the height of coziness and frankly, I have always wanted to try it myself. It reminds me of those dogs that you see trotting along, cheerfully carrying their own leashes in their mouths.

By the time you are ready for a Wubbanub, your hands might even sort of work, and when the penguin or horse or whatever you have chosen as your spirit sleeping animal becomes dislodged from your oral cavity, you may be even able to get at least part of it back into your mouth.

The Wubbanub stage, from 4 months to, I don’t know when, is a really cute one.


Once the penguin was filthy enough to pose a health risk, we moved on to a different transitional object: a “lovey,” a bear head sewn onto a blanket. Ours has little white stars on his light green cloak, which lends him sort of a wizard aspect. He is called Pistachio because of his ice-creamlike hue. Pistachio is EXTREMELY popular and is actually one of the first things Henry has tried to say. “PACLABEENOP.” But sometimes, Pistachio’s scary burped-out milk smell (which I actually sort of love) requires that he be laundered. And God help you if Pistachio is not ready for a nap when someone else is.

Surpassing even Pistachio in popularity is his fraternal twin, the Monkeyblanket, purchased by my mother for emergencies. The monkey blanket is also a lovey, and looks nothing like Pistachio but slightly closer to something that would exist in the nonwizard animal world, ie, he is Monkey colored, and sort of monkey shaped.

These are supposed to be transitional objects, and I think that means that they are supposed to be able to stand in for me. Except now, when Henry nurses — yes, he still frequently nurses, please leave your judgmental comments on someone else’s blog — he runs off and grabs one or both of these guys so we can all snuggle together.

Before bed is an excellent time. It’s fun and I’m happy and confident because the sleeping is going really, really well lately. We goof around and tickle and laugh a lot and have milk and look at the moon and stars projected onto the wall.  Another popular activity for right before bed is lunging towards Dino to hug him.


Who is Dino? Dino is our newest, big league crutch: a very fat and happy knit dinosaur. Actually, Dino came to live with us in the days before Henry was born. He was a gift from my friend Louise, who commissioned him from the talented and appropriately insouciant Rachael Rabbit.

Dino has lived on the full-sized futon on the floor of Henry’s room for as long as I can remember, except, sometimes when I am vacuuming and I want Henry to hang out in the crib and watch, I put Dino in there with him so they can play. When Dino is suddenly in your crib taking up all of the room, it’s like a funny holiday.

But then one day, to make Henry laugh, I put the Dino in the crib with him when it was time for bed. He cuddled up on Dino’s fat fat legs to sleep.

Now every day is a holiday!  Henry won’t sleep without him. And Pistachio, and Monkey Blanket.

Who’s next?


3 Comments leave one →
  1. August 4, 2010 11:34 am

    Go Dino!

  2. Audrey permalink
    August 4, 2010 7:29 pm

    OmG, I have a little wee babe, my 3rd baby, and the first to fall into the 9 minute nap arena. Of course, presuming I’d have another easy sleeper who spends 20 hours a day in la la land, I signed up for a serious amount of freelance work that I blithely presumed I’d get done during those long boring hours in which she napped. Ha! couldn’t have been more wrong. She hates the swing, she hates the car seat, she hates the maya wrap–she only likes mama’s arms. And I just want to get this darn work done so I can then not have work and actually enjoy her…arrrrrrgh

  3. Karen permalink
    August 6, 2010 12:47 pm

    How old is Henry? Cuz I was with you guys in 9 min nap land, and I read all those books too… we could have saved each other a lot of trouble!

    I was also in nursing (no joke) 16x/day for 20/30 mins at a time with my first/only to date, who grew like the incredible Hulk between weeks 9 and 16. There was a point in time where I just spent 10 hrs/day wearing my breastfriend (sometimes with no shirt/bra; why bother?) b/c there was no reason to take it off- Mia slept there, etc., for the 50% of waking hours that she was not on the breast.

    Also glad to know the name of Wubanubs. I looked desperately for them before Mia discovered her thumb. As it turned out, she would not put anything that was not her thumb in there anyway- she hated all the pacifiers we tried, even, or maybe especially, when they worked. Egads. I remember those days.

    Also: our lovey is an “classic-style” (curly tan hair, not yellow smooth) Winnie the Pooh. We have Pooh (a gift), and we have his body double for after Pooh has been on a floor a bunch (during the “independent” moments of toddlerhood, when he gets tossed aside momentarily)….. The body double is the one whose nose she didn’t teethe on. And yes, she can tell them apart, but the body double is worth what I paid for him on e-Bay- he was remarkably hard to find!

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