Before the Storm


The waiting during a nap is an odd period of time.

Just after managing to successfully put Joshua down for a nap, there’s a brief period of tension, maybe only five to ten minutes. In that period, he’s still on the very edges of sleep and any slight disturbance will push him back in the realm of waking. After that, though, it’s fairly likely that he’s dropped into a deeper sleep and will stay asleep for at least 45 more minutes.

Nap timing for Joshua is highly variable. This is likely the case for all babies. There are a wide variety of things that will cut a nap short. Loud noises. Heat. Lack of heat. Hunger. Gas pains. Wet diaper. Dirty diaper. A typical, good nap is about two hours long. After that first, trepidatious period, you, as parents, will begin to settle into a bit of a normal routine. It may not be fair to designate it as such, but a bit of normal life begins to bleed back in. You read a book, or put on a DVD, or perhaps just have an honest-to-goodness conversation, complete with eye contact and perhaps some bad language.

With a two-hour nap, you have time to get a couple things done, polish off a chore or two and have a snack, and then the cycle begins anew. There’s changing to be done and feeding to administer and cooing and bouncing to undertake.

But sometimes you get an outlier. An exceptionally good nap. As I write this, Joshua is smack dab in the middle of one of those. It’s not exceptionally good due to the length of the nap itself, but because of the timing since he last ate. Joshua is a big boy. He ranks in at the 85th percentile for weight and 95% for height. Granted, baby size means virtually nothing about your later size as an adult (Janelle was almost 10 pounds, which is fairly behemoth for a baby, and she is decidedly not behemoth today). He takes in a lot of food when he’s breastfeeding. Janelle estimates between 5 and 7 ounces of milk at each feeding. (Keep in mind intake of milk is super variable and is one of those guidelines you should 100% ignore as long as your baby is gaining weight – it depends on tons of factors: is Mom letting down enough milk, is baby sucking enough, is baby hungry enough, etc. etc. etc.) This is all just to illustrate that he’s got enough chub stored up and packs away enough milk that if he wants to wait awhile between eating, he can.

It was drilled into us so much at the hospital that Joshua needs to eat every three hours like clockwork that the timing of his feeding was something that we (at least I) obsessed about a bit. We wouldn’t wake him up to eat, but I would find myself getting antsy if three hours had passed and he wasn’t awake and ready to eat. So it’s still a little odd to let that time frame slip right past and fade off into the distance.

Today Joshua started his previous meal at 10am. It is now 4:30pm. This means that it has been roughly six hours since he finished eating. After his meal, he was awake for a bit and we played around with him as usual. Then he was fussy and angry, but angry too soon to be hungry already, so we tried to get him to nap. That didn’t go so well. So Janelle and her mother took Joshua for a walk down to a local supermarket and brought him back. He woke and was angry, but didn’t seem hungry. So, I put him down for a nap and apparently did a pretty good job because it’s lasted about two hours longer than I expected it to.

While part of my brain is proud of the little man for sleeping it off like a big man, the other part is trying to calculate how much larger the explosion will be once Joshua finally does wake up. With a nap this long, this far from a feeding, I’ve progressed past the initial “Will he stay asleep?” fear and past the simple bliss of “They’re so easy when they nap!” into the creeping terror of “Man. He’s probably going to be hungry and pissed when he wakes up.”

It’s an odd nervous energy to be in possession of. I want to keep myself busy so I’m not just pacing and wondering when, but I need to make sure it’s the kind of task that I can drop at moment’s notice so that I can be reacting quickly to mitigate any disasters.

This is parenting. Ready to leap at moment’s notice for the well-being of your child, focused on their happiness, perhaps to the neglect of your own.

I am glad I have a blog to write in, though. It’s better than pacing.

[And no… I am not implying I’m unhappy. You may have read about the flurry of recent articles discussing the discontentment of parents (here and here, for example). This is shenanigans, and will be the subject of a later post/rant, believe you me.]

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