A couple years back, the wife and I got a small taste of parenthood when we baby sat for the infant daughter of a friend of ours for a weekend, Baby Ashley. Well, we got another taste of it this week when one of the wife's fellow medical residents had to fill in for another resident's on call shift and didn't have anyone to watch her 4-month-old son for a night on such short notice. Being a good soul, not to mention Chief Resident, the wife volunteered to do it.
Those of you with kids can go ahead and start laughing at us Childless Wonders, now.
Baby Ian was delivered into our care Wednesday night. I had a late shift at the "liberry" so I didn't get in until after 9p, by which time he was already asleep. For a 4 month old, he seemed pretty big, but was sleeping well enough which I hoped was a good sign. Just as we were about to go to bed at 11, Baby Ian woke up and crankily demanded a bottle. Since I'm supposed to be in training, in case God decides to ever bless us with such a bundle, I got to do the bottling. Unfortunately, Baby Ian wolfed down his bottle, as though it might be taken from him at any moment, and despite our attentiveness to making sure there was no air in the bottle itself, he swallowed a lot of air in the wolfing process. This lead to much burping and an impressive session of projectile vomiting.
Once he was fed, it was time to get him back asleep. The wife showed me how to cradle him in my arms, so that his head had a nice place to rest, and how to rock him in a smooth motherly way, instead of my jerky and baby-irritating fatherly way. This seemed to work in the short term and we were able to put him into his makeshift bed. After a couple of minutes, though, he was back awake, so the wife had to take a turn and eventually got him to sleep.
At around 2 a.m., he was back awake and demanded a bottle. The wife thought this was a bit of a stretch, request wise, so she rocked him back to sleep.
At around 3 a.m., Baby Ian awoke again and this time wasn't having any of this No Bottle crap. The wife arose, warmed him up a bottle, fed him and checked his diaper, all the while with me laying there "helping" by offering to hold the bottle while she changed him. She tried to get him back to sleep, but Baby Ian didn't want to sleep. He was up. He wanted to play. So he lay there and smiled and made cute baby noises until it became apparent to him that no one was going to pay him any attention, a situation he decided to then rectify by making sure everyone was wide awake. Again, the wife arose, rocked him a bit, checked his diaper again, rocked him some more, walked him around the house, etc. Occasionally, he would drift off, and allow her to put him back to bed. Two minutes after she crawled back in with me, though, and he was awake and crying again. This all lasted until around 4a, with multiple feignings of sleep followed by inevitable wakings and cryings.
Around 4:30, with no chance of sleep for either of us due to the crying, I decided it was probably my turn.
"Do you want me to take him in the living room so you can at least get some sleep?" I offered.
"If you want to," the wife replied. Her tone of voice, however, said "Yes, please."
I took Baby Ian to the living room. I decided to try the same tactic for child sleep-inducement that worked for Baby Ashley last time, which was to sit and rock the baby until it nodded off. Nope. Baby Ian didn't like sitting and rocking. He liked motion and rocking. So I walked him around, his head on my shoulder, rocking him gently and patting him on the back. After a few minutes of silence from him, I looked over at his face to see if he was asleep. Nope. That little cheater's eyes were wide awake, enjoying the scenery of the darkened living room. So I tried another position, the wife's suggested cradle-hold, but he didn't like that at all and began to cry and struggle and flail his arms. His little nails were quite sharp and kept slicing at my throat and darting close to my eyes. And for a four month old, this was a huge chunk of baby to have to lug around when he was still, let alone trying to do the Curly Shuffle in my arms.
Very quickly I began to consider taking him back to the bedroom, putting him in his bed and saying, "I'm done." That wasn't fair, though. Ash needed her sleep more so than me--after all, I didn't have to be anywhere until 1p the next day and she had a full day at the clinic where having clear decision-making skills would be necessary.
So me and Baby Ian walked around some more, and he struggled some more and cried some more and I became more and more frustrated. I tried putting him in his bouncy feeding chair, but that made him even madder. I tried speaking softly to him and doing playful things, but this was just patronizing him and he screamed all the louder. I picked him back up and walked and paced and wracked my brain for something to do that would work. With nothing to lose, I tried the wife's suggested cradle hold yet again.
If my life were a role-playing game, this is where I would have rolled twelves on DEX and probably INT, cause though I may never be able to repeat it in a million years, I somehow achieved perfect cradle-hold technique and the kid literally fell asleep within thirty seconds. (And, NO, cradle-hold is NOT the same thing as the sleeper hold, though apparently it's just as effective.) I was so astounded, I didn't know what to do. The wife had achieved sleeping child multiple times in the past hour, but it never lasted once physical contact was broken. I therefore couldn't risk taking him back to his bed. So I slowly and gently made my way over to the couch and ever-so-carefully lowered myself to the seat cushions. Still he slept. I carefully eased back on the couch until my back was against the rear cushions. Still he slept. I then sat there, in my underwear and t-shirt, freezing my ass off because I'd sat directly on top of the afghan and it was wedged irretrievably beneath me.
After another five minutes of freezing and not sleeping, I decided Baby Ian had been asleep long enough for me to lift a butt cheek and pull the afghan out of my ass. This I did with nary a stir from the kid. Feeling emboldened, I, with Telltale Heart-like slowness, swivelled my legs up onto the sofa so that I was now in a more comfortable position, my back and neck against the arm-rest, and I maneuvered the afghan over me and then over the kid. Still he slept.
After around twenty minutes in this less than comfortable position, I finally drifted off to sleep myself. I woke up on and off for the next couple of hours. The kid wiggled a bit and shifted at one point, so that most of his body was tucked between me and the couch with his head lying on my chest. He seemed comfy enough.
I heard the wife walking down the hall around 7a. She came in and peeked at us and grinned. She said we were about the cutest thing she'd ever seen. She brought us more blankets and there we lay until it was time for Baby Ian's breakfast.