Friday, September 11, 2009

Sleep or the lack of it...

---seems to be the recurrent theme in our lives these days. For a 5 month old, my little Nikki seems to get by on a lot less sleep than I had expected! When I was a blissfully ignorant mum-to-be, I had full faith in all the pregnancy tomes I read which assured me that all babies in the first year of life spend most of their time sleeping. At 5 months baby will need 13-15 hours of sleep a day, they said, 10 of these at night and the remaining spread into 3 one hour naps of an hour each. Three one hour naps of an hour each! Bah! Nikki does adhere to the three naps a day rule, only the naps are not more than 15-20 minutes each, maybe 25 if I really get lucky! And the amount of time and effort it takes to get her to take that darn nap in the first place is probably harder than training for a marathon!

It all begins when I first notice the classic signs of sleepiness: crankiness, ear pulling, eye rubbing. Gleefully I pounce on Nikki and begin rocking her gently, hoping that she'll nod off quickly. No Siree! As soon as the li'l munchkin realizes that all this gentle rocking is designed to pack her off to the land of nod she fights back with a vehement protest. First comes the grumbling and crankiness: How dare you?!! I want to PLAY! NOW! I ignore this and carry on rocking. When she realizes this ploy isn't working she bounces back with killer smiles, adorable goos & gaas thrown in with a few pa-pa-pa's (the latest addition to the babbling repertoire) and desperately tries to engage with me. Woe betide me if I ever give in. Endowed with a fresh spurt of energy she gets all wriggly and squirmy and tries to jump out of my arms. So I ignore this display of affection and carry on rocking. Then she deals the trump card: pretending to be hungry and trying to suckle. This is a tough one. I have to use all my finely honed mothering instincts to second guess her and figure out whether she really is hungry (you BAD mother you!) or if this is just an act. More often than not its the latter. Which I find out when I give in to the guilty mom conscience hard-wired in my brain and try to latch her on only to get spurned by a fit of giggles. And then begins the rocking all over again.

Sometimes she even starts singing, cooing actually, in a desperate attempt to stay awake. All of this while her eyes are literally drooping with sleep and she's blinking hard to force them open. Very adorable actually if I hadn't been so sleep deprived! Finally after many manic minutes of zombie like rocking, when I'm all ready to crash myself, her eyes FINALLY begin to close! This doesn't mean its all over of course. There are still many more minutes of rocking left to ensure she goes into deep sleep, thereby enabling the seamless transition from arms to crib. And once put down in said crib there is always that dreadful moment when she opens her eyes, stretches, looks well and truly awake and gives me a smile; hey there Ma, wanna give it one more shot?

If after having been put down, she stretches, sighs and carries on sleeping, I breathe a sigh of relief and totter out of the room on tiptoe, a skill I have mastered since Nikki''s birth. Some me-time at last! For 20 minutes at least. Coz as soon as those blessed 20 mins are through I am summoned to the bedroom with some ga ga ga, ah-goos by a bright eyed, super active all- over- again baby, newly rejuvenated by her power nap.

Sigh.

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