Sleep at Last

Come on, admit it. We've all resorted to some pretty harebrained schemes at 3:00 AM when our babies wouldn't sleep: strapping a screeching child into his car seat and driving aimlessly until he was out cold (then continuing to drive aimlessly for fear he'll wake up); pushing a stroller up and down deserted streets while humming some tuneless version of her favorite lullaby (or yours); praying out loud to the sleep gods for two consecutive hours of snoozing.

Before I became a mother, I wasn't exactly sympathetic when my exhausted, cranky girlfriends moaned about how hard it was to get their children to sleep. "Um, did you try cough syrup?" I once asked.

I wrongly assumed that babies slept all the time, the way I had. I grew up hearing stories about how I slept through the night as soon as my parents brought me home from the hospital. My mother, worried that she actually had to wake me at feeding time, whisked me into the pediatrician's office when I was a few weeks old to find out what was wrong with me. "I wouldn't complain too loudly if I were you," warned the good doctor, "otherwise those sleep-deprived women in the waiting room might get a bit cranky and take it out on you."

When I gave birth, I got these bits of cheery wisdom from "experienced" parents: "Don't stand when you can sit." "Don't sit when you can lie down." "Don't worry. You'll sleep when your son sleeps!"


Problem was, his nap (yes, just the one) lasted about 11 minutes on a good day. Every time his droopy little eyes seemed like they would finally close, he'd jerk himself awake, convinced he would miss something vitally important. (And yes, I swaddled him.)

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