This has been a tough month. That’s why this update is more than two weeks late. I just considered skipping another month. But, last night, I decided to write it — bursting with whining and complaining — so that next month I can just bypass all that and tell you about the wonderful things my 18-month old daughter is learning and doing.
This has been a tough month entirely because Mary Virginia is taking us through new sleep trials. Almost every night, she wakes up and stays up for hours at a time. The nights that she’s only up for an hour are the good nights. One night, she was up from 1-4:30 a.m.
And that doesn’t even make sense, right? How can a baby possibly stay up for that long? We have no idea. All we know is that we’ve tried everything. And by 4:30 a.m., after three hours of crying, rocking, back-rubbing, and pointing emphatically at the clock, we’ll do anything. Everything we know and understand about good sleep habits is out the window; she has won. We give her toys, milk, more toys, more milk. At 4:30 Tom was parading a bright pink pony wearing a tutu in front of her saying, “How about this? Does this make you happy? Will you go to sleep now?”
Since Mary Virginia has such a history of ear infections, we were watching her closely for signs, and there weren’t any. She had a firm pattern of waking up just ONE time, going back to sleep eventually, and then sleeping till morning. And in the morning, she would always be completely happy, and then take a great nap in the afternoon. This is not her typical ear infection behavior.
Eventually we did take her to the doctor, and they said she had a teeny, tiny ear infection. We have medicine, and we’re hoping we’ve figured out the problem, and this will soon be a terrible, horrible memory.
The thing that has been hardest, perhaps, about our new sleep situation isn’t the night but the rest of the day. This is a hard, busy, high-energy, curious, destructive age. It’s an age that requires a lot of patience on my part, and my patience stores for the day are depleted by 2 a.m
For a long time I planned for the first sentence of this post to be:
This sounds terrible, but I’m going to say it anyway. This is my least-favorite age.
See how deep this negativity runs? But this age isn’t horrible, it’s delightful! Mary Virginia is so much fun! She loves to play and is saying SO MANY words! She loves to dance, and claps whenever she hears music (a particular favorite, Roll Out by Ludacris). She drinks at least 3,500 calories in whole milk every day, and when we ask “Who wants some milk?” her whole body stiffens and she screams “IDO! IDO! IDO!” If you try to do something she doesn’t like, she says “NONONONONO!” and waves her hand in front of her. The only thing that’s missing is a sassy hand on her hip.
When we ask her a question, her default answer is “no”. David loves it, and they commonly have conversations that sound like this: Mary Virginia? Are you a girl?…no…Mary Virginia, do you like dolls?…no…Mary Virginia, do you want a millgion dowllars?…no…”
It’s the tone that makes us all laugh. She says it in a bored, dismissive way. The way a rich girl would roll her eyes and respond to her father when he asks if she wants One Direction to perform at her sweet 16 birthday party. “Ugh, Dad, why would I want that? They played at Mindy’s party last month…noooo…”
She slides off the couch and says “WEEEEE!”, she loves to read, loves animals, and loves dolls. She feeds her dolls bottles and puts them to sleep. And then, from what I can tell, they sleep through the night.
I’m sorry. The bitterness, I just can’t turn it off.
But, ah, my patience is tried by her 17-month old curiosity. While I brush my teeth, digs under the vanity and empties a basket full of curling irons and hair dryers (which I haven’t used in years). While I clean it up, she discovers a box of stationary in the closet. When I rush over to try to save my cards, she starts unloading my dresser drawers. No house is totally child-proof if it has anything at all in it.
As if serious sleep regression wasn’t bad enough, she’s neck-deep in a Mama Phase. I’m all she wants — more than food or water or oxygen. This is especially true in the middle of the night. If Tom goes in to check on her, she starts screaming so loud that David wakes up, our windows rattle, and all of the dogs on our block start howling.
Tom would help, he wants to help. But, like I said before, Mary Virginia has middle-of-the-night endurance that we don’t have, so she always wins. That means if you need me in the wee hours of the morning, I’ll be holding my sweet Mary Virginia, praying for sleep.
Dear Mary Virginia,
There is absolutely no bright side to your sleep habits, but if I had to choose one it would be this: I have lots of time to catch up on blog reading, Facebook scrolling, and Candy Crush. One of my all-time favorite blogs is Paradox Uganda, and one night last week I read this post about the inefficiency of love. She writes:
“I survive on efficiency. Multitasking, prioritizing, keeping balls spinning in multiple spheres. Up until 4 am? Working all day? Dinner for 10? Parent with a sick kid asking for help? That’s how it goes. As in, literally, yesterday. Which is, I suppose, a form of love. But there is a certain inefficiency to love that interrupts, that doesn’t add up, that has its own beauty…
Jesus sat by the well and asked for water. He waited three days to show up at Lazarus’ tomb. He walked and wandered. And I’m sure He would have sent Christmas packages, even if they were pillaged and costly. In a way, He was the Christmas package, cut open and betrayed and yet a physical palpable inefficient love.”
It’s a good reminder that love is powerful, but it is almost never efficient. I’m not a person who survives or seeks efficiency, but I do need sleep, and holding you all night is not the most efficient way to get rest and prepare for the long day ahead. At night, you wake me with screaming, and when I go into your room you are standing in your bed, hysterical. I pick you up and you squeeze my neck, wrap your little legs around me, and bury your head in my shoulder. I don’t know what’s going on in your mind or body that’s keeping you awake, but something is going on. It won’t ever make sense to rock you until you fall asleep in my arms, if it helps you to feel safe and loved, then I suppose that’s what I’ll do.