I am your pretty typical Type A personality. Anyone who knows me knows I like a schedule. I make one for just about everything and follow it to the letter. It’s how I get things done.
So when my beautiful baby girl came along, the first thing I did was make a schedule. I wrote down every feeding time, nap time, diaper change time; you name it, I wrote it. Pretty soon, my baby girl had all her needs met without making a sound. I was on top of things.
Daddy got her up at 6:30 am for early breakfast, and then I got her up at 8:30 am for late breakfast. At approximately ten am every morning she’d fall asleep on her play mat and I would fall asleep on the couch. It worked well for both of us. Everybody was happy and rested.
Then one day she didn’t fall asleep at ten. I lay on the couch, staring at her, willing her to get sleepy. I couldn’t take a nap unless she took and a nap and gosh darn it, I needed a nap. My eyes would grow heavy and just as they closed, she would let out a peep or squeal. Basically any shrill sound that would alert me to her still being awake.
Reluctantly, I got up and turned on the Wii. If I wasn’t going to sleep, I should at least get in some “exercise”. When you’re a tired first time Mommy, playing the Wii is like running a marathon. I convinced myself during an exhilarating game of Wii Tennis that she would sleep longer in the afternoon and therefore I would sleep longer in the afternoon and have gotten in a workout.
Baby girl’s brunch and lunch came and went. I daydreamed about laying my head on the pillow. Again my eyes grew heavy and a pool of drool started to form in the corner of my mouth when baby girl let out a blood-chilling scream.
What had I done? I had fallen asleep and now she had been mauled by a cat, stolen by a zombie or was currently fighting off ninjas. Child Protective Services was going to come and take her away due to me falling asleep on the job. I swooped her up, trying to cuddle her tears away. They transgressed into a small hiccup cry as we walked around the house. Soon she was sleeping on my shoulder.
I whispered a “thank you” to the big guy upstairs and walked her quietly to her crib. The minute her butt hit the crib pad her eyes flew open and the screaming started again. I brought her back up to my shoulder and examined the crib pad for needles, venomous snakes or hot coals, anything to justify her terror. Nothing.
We walked around the house again until her soft baby breaths turned into ones of slumber. Again, I walked to the crib confident she was going to stay down, but was met with the same result. This time, upon bringing her back to my shoulder I could tell she was wide awake. She’d had her little cat nap and was good to go for another four or five hours. I could not say the same for myself.
I looked at the clock, it was only 2pm. I hoped she would go down later, but it never happened. By four she was so overtired that even sitting in the recliner sent her into a tailspin. She acted as if every bottle was filled with rat poison and my sole purpose on the planet was to make her life miserable by way of napping.
The minute her dad walked into the house I practically threw her at him saying, “She’s on strike and so am I.”
This continued for two weeks. I don't know what was more frustrating, not getting my nap or the way she giggled and cooed at my husband before gently falling asleep, and staying asleep in his arms. My days were filled with a cranky, pooping, slobbering monster. Why did he get the snuggles?
During those two weeks I turned into a world class negotiator. "If you'll sleep for half an hour, Mommy will play horsey with you. If you'll sleep for just twenty minutes Mommy will take you horseback riding. If you'll sleep for just ten minutes, I'll buy you a flippin' pony!"
She was a tough cookie, not cracking even at the thought of getting a pony. Of course, we did have a language barrier to contend with. If someone could tell me how to say, "It's just a little nap," in baby I'll buy them a flippin' pony.
Finally, the day came and once again she fell asleep on her little pink play mat surrounded by her forest friends. Not wanting to risk a minute of the slumber, I grabbed my pillow and blanket and dove to the couch. Hallelujah, a nap!
I lay there enjoying the bliss of a comfy couch, exhausted to the core, but I couldn't sleep. My body had decided that even though her nap strike was over, mine had just begun.