Sleep is the Holy Grail of parenthood – highly treasured and yet exceptionally elusive. I’ve heard it exists, but I’m not sure I believe it or know how to find it. I’m speaking specifically about Per Christian’s sleep, not my own (although the two are irrevocably linked). According to the books I have around the house (books that I read and Per ignores…), now that Per Christian has surpassed the 5 kg mark on the scale, he’s theoretically able to sleep through the night.
Able, but not entirely interested.
Like any good Svendsen worthy of his name, this kid hates to miss a party. At two months old, we’re just now starting to establish some kind of a routine and approximate bed time hour. But it’s a bit of a hit-or-miss equation. If we have guests over, then we might as well set up a tent in the middle of the action because there’s no way Per Christian is going to bed. It reminds of me of when I was running track in college and would fall asleep exhausted but fully dressed in the middle of a gathering in my dorm room – I might have been unconscious but at least I was there.
(Okay, that photo on the far right is actually the famous child crying statue in Oslo’s Frogner Park, but I think they had Per Christian in mind when it was made.)
I’ve recently learned this fabulous Norwegian word, “lakenskrekk.” Literally, it means “fear of the sheets.” I keep thinking about this word now that we’re experimenting with different methods to encourage longer, deeper hours of infant sleep. Over the past two months, we’ve come up with a few tricks of the trade to conquer our son’s fear of the sheets. None of them work perfectly at all times, but we keep them in our back pockets and pull them out in quick succession on an as-needed basis:
1. Swaddling – this is the King of sleep aids. I didn’t even know what it was until I read it on some parenting forum, but it’s now a well-established routine in our house. At first, our hearts broke at the sight of our poor, defenseless son struggling against being wrapped like a tight burrito. But the alternative is Per Christian punching himself in the face all night with arms he can’t yet control. We chose the lesser of two evils and quickly became converts. By the way – Per is a much better swaddler than I am (which apparently means that he’ll be the bad cop in the parenthood trap and I’ll be the more accommodating one who can’t deny our son a thing and is therefore loved more. Works for me.)
2. White noise – I have two White Noise apps on my iPhone that are supposed to mimic the soothing sounds of being inside the womb and lull my son to sleep. What a load of BS. What Per Christian really loves in reality is when we place our mouth up against his ear and heave loud, breathy “sssssshhhhhh” sounds into his skull until he passes out. He also routinely sleeps in his activity chair in the bathroom while I’m drying my hair in the mornings. So much for the sweet sounds of dolphins and beach waves…
3. The Stroller – My son will be the one in 30 years’ time with an ad on a dating website that says he enjoys long walks though town while lying flat on his back and being serenaded by the sounds of urban life and bumpy sidewalks. Now what’s the possibility that any lovely lady will ever fulfill that desire of his? Seriously though, Per Christian loves our daily constitutionals and I’ve learned to stretch them out as long as possible because he’ll definitely sleep the entire time. He gets a long nap and mommy gets back into her pre-pregnancy jeans. Score!
4. The Smokk – It has a million names around the world, from a pacifier in the US to a “dummy” in the UK. Highly controversial with lots of heated theories about whether or not it’s good for the child or will get them addicted to crack when they get older. Bottom line for us though is that Per Christian seems calmed by it and spits it out when he doesn’t need it anymore. That’s good enough for me.
This coming week, I’ll meet my “barselgruppe” of other new mothers in my neighborhood for the first time. I’m sure they’ll all tell me how they got their perfect children to sleep through the night by the time they were 3 weeks old and now they’re working on potty-training them before they can walk. At least that’s what I’d expect from an uber-competitive mommy’s group in the US. Kidding aside, I’m really hoping they’ll reassure me that we’re doing just fine and are right on track and – my goodness – are those pre-pregnancy jeans you’re wearing?!?!