CAT NAPPING – Is not the practice of stealing cats. Oh no. This is the incredibly frustrating habit of many a young baby. Tom is kind of an expert in not sleeping longer than one sleep cycle during the day. Ever. Unless he’s permanently attached to my boob which, you know, is kind of annoying. And so I set out on a mission to ABOLISH THE CAT NAP. I bring you this special report below…
Good day readers. I am reporting to you from BEHIND ENEMY LINES: the deep and dark recesses of the baby nursery. This reporter is currently situated under the cot, out of baby’s line of vision. One does not move for fear of waking the baby.
Mission: To abolish cat naps. Specifically to get baby to sleep for longer than one sleep cycle (roughly 40 minutes). So far all attempts at abolishing cat naps have failed. But not today. Mummy is taking charge.
It began with the usual. I watched Tom like a hawk for signs of being tired, so as to avoid the dreaded “I’m-so-overtired-I’m-just gonna-cry-and-wriggle-and-scream-until-I fall-in-a-heap-of-exhaustion-and-you-have-to-hold-me-the-whole-time-and-you-can’t-eat-or-drink-or-shower-sucker!” theme we’ve been running with for the last 14 weeks. He was fed, watered, nappy changed. Happily playing on his mat, cooing at me while I sang the words “I’m so hungry” to the tune of “I’m so sexy.” (I haven’t slept in awhile. Don’t judge me.) A nap was imminent, he’d be getting tired soon. Any minute now…
BAM! HE’S RUBBING HIS EYES! GO, GO, GO! Swaddle, dummy, white noise app (ocean sounds – delightful), a little rock & cuddle until I saw the first eye droop. Then kissed him on the forehead, dropped the kid in his cot and bailed. This is the easy part… He settled quickly (we’ve been practicing this bit.) I was guaranteed 40 or so minutes before the first sleep cycle was finished.
Right. PRIORITIES. I was in the Green Zone. Toilet. Coffee. Food. Put laundry on… Briefly played with the idea of hanging some laundry out, but my time is too precious, so I laughed and bundled that shit in the dryer. A shower… Regrettably postponed until later. I need to be ready for when the sleep cycle ends. Chucked some vomit-stained clothes on and waited. Step one of the mission complete.
Almost exactly 40 minutes after I first put him down, I hear a baby cry out. STEP 2 COMMENCE! GO, GO, GO!
I quickly worked my way back into enemy territory. Tom looked up at me with red, tired eyes and a gummy smile. Damn it. He wants to play…. Aww he’s so cute… NO! I gently but firmly popped that dummy back in, rolled him onto his side and patted his bum. Almost immediately his eyes began to droop again… YES! Except no, because he wants to fight sleep. I desperately tried to avoid making eye contact with him, so as to not distract him. In my peripheral vision I see him trying to twist his head to look back up at me and smile behind his dummy. Don’t look… Don’t look… Don’t look… Damn it. I looked. I can’t help but smile back. He knows my weaknesses. I CANNOT let the enemy win.
THIS IS WAR.
Time to amp it up. I stroke the bridge of his nose. Little sucker closes his eyes immediately. Ocean sounds are still playing. He starts to breathe deeply. All is peaceful. I back out of the room slowly with ninja-like precision… Quite chuffed with my awesome sleep inducing abilities. I’m almost out. I begin to self-congratulate. And then 2 steps from the Green Zone and the fucking postwoman arrives.
It was like it happened in slow motion. I could hear the growl and screech of her motorcycle get closer. She paused at next doors mailbox before revving up the engine again. I looked frantically around for Otis, knowing that he will bark his head off as the postwoman approaches. A flurry of dog hair is the only clue he was even in the room. Oh shit… Cue hysterical barking down the hallway. FUCK!
Baby immediately drops dummy. His eyes still closed as he frantically moves his head from side to side looking for it. I’m torn. Do I scream blue murder at the dog and try to shut him up? Or return the dummy to its rightful place? (Dummy. The answer is always the dummy.) As soon as it reenters his mouth, his eyes fly open and I drop to the floor like Tom Cruise in Mission Impossible. I watch his reflection in the wardrobe mirror as he sleepily closes his eyes again. YES!
I wait a few minutes to let him get back to sleep before I attempt to commando crawl my way out of the room (which after almost a year since any form of real exercise was fucking mission in itself.) Almost at Green Zone. Freedom is so close, I can smell it. And then I hear it. The dummy dropped out of his mouth again. CRAP! I stood up with alarm and ran back to the cot to reinsert the dummy. His eyes are still closed but he’s taking longer to settle this time, some more bum patting and forehead stroking required. Every time I went to leave, my old rickety bones would click or the door would creek and he would stir. So I sat on the floor, just in case he reawaken and I be required to continue this charade.
And then I had a desperate need to cough. I’ve spent most of the week overcoming a bout of tonsillitis and an annoying persistent cough. It filled my throat and chest. I suppressed it for as long as I could. Really. My face turned red as I held my breath and then my cough escaped in a short, sharp burst of phlegm. Disgusting as well as disheartening.
Tom’s eyes flew open and I shimmied under the cot and that is where I remain, lest he notice me again. And that dear readers, is where I spent the next 40 minutes, for he finally stayed asleep. And while in essence, he technically slept for a total of 80 minutes (though not together), the whole charade took somewhere in the vicinity of 2 hours. As I wasn’t able to use the time to indulge in luxuries such as a shower, it was not quite a rolling success.
But hear this! I resettled a baby that regularly fights sleep in the cot! Only parents of newborn babies can fully appreciate that little victory. And while catnaps have not yet been abolished, we live to see another day. Since he woke up happy, I figure I can claim this battle as a victory. BUT THE WAR ISN’T OVER. And Mummy will win Tom. Mummy always wins.