I forgot about nights like this


Last night Gabrielle broke a two-week streak of sleeping through the night. The right-on-the-dot-one-o’clock wakeup call at first made me appreciate the good life these past 14 days. Then the 50-day-old really let me know how sweet it’s been.

Let me count the ways:

1. When I opened her door the dark slapped me. Her nightlight was unplugged. She did it. She’s developed the daily habit of deplugging the bulb. She likes to then either beat it on the floor or taste it. Amy usually rescues it and lays in on the bookshelf. I always forget to make sure it’s back to work before “putting her down” at night.

Given that it’s darker than the Cubs’ season and a baby is screaming like a banshee, I pick up Gabby to quiet her. I go to the kitchen to retrieve the flashlight. I then spend a handful of minutes trying to find what Gabby hid under the heater vent. By the time I retrieve it, she’s got one baby step into the waking world.

2. Hoping against hope she hasn’t put to much weight on that before-mentioned step, I lay her in her crib. I pat her bottom and gently plead “Lay down and go nite-nite.” She looks at me and winks. Or at least I think she did. Either way, she’s awake. The clock says 1:12 a.m.

3. I break one of Amy’s unbreakable rules – I head to the living room and lay with her on the couch. I get comfortable. She doesn’t. She tosses. She turns. She tries to look out the window. At 1:22 a.m. I abandon Operation Couch. It’s on to Operation Milk.

4. Before I give her anything to drink, I know I have to change her diaper. If not, in five hours it will be a bowling ball. I place her on the changing table and take off the used diaper. Before I can slip the new one underneath her, Gabby lets me know her bladder is full. Actually, she lets me know it was full and is now emptying. All over the table and into her cotton PJs. In midstream I grab a towel to play sponge and take off her clothes. The damage is done. She’s now naked, crying and laying in urine. 1:25 a.m.

5. By the glow of the nightlight I get her clean, dressed and diapered. Screw the table until morning. I head to the kitchen to make some formula. Problem – I can’t find the powder. It’s in her diaper bag, which means to find the diaper bag I have to find the flashlight. A Hardy Boys episode plays out. I find A, which leads to B, which leads to C, for calcium. Bottle made, it’s back to the couch. 1:34 a.m.

6. Before we get situated, I first must find the remote. I know, I know – wtf? It’s the middle of the early morn, I have a baby baptized in urine restless in my arms, and I turn into Archie Bunker. I can’t help myself. I need something to keep my attention as she drinks. Unfortunately the remote cannot be found. I spend two minutes searching the living room – with the flashlight – before finding it swallowed by the cushions in the couch. 1:38 a.m. Time to eat.

7. She eats. I see that the Hurricanes won. She finishes. TV off. Back to the crib. I lay her down, cover her with blankets and pat her butt. I begin the chant – “Shhhhhhh … go nite-nite. Shhhhhhh … go nite-nite … Shhhhhh .. go nite-nite,” which sounds alot like Thomas the Train on the verge of cursing.

Now you have to picture the discomfort of performing this particular Go-to-Sleep ceremony. I’m bent over the rail of her crib, one hand balancing on one of its beams, the other patting her bottom, while I’m looking up at the clock thinking – “Was it just two months ago I was doing this every night?” My back creaks, my neck creaks, and Gabby cracks a smile thinking, “Do you really think this is doing any good?” 1:45 a.m. I guess it’s not.

8. Again I go against the boss’s (ie. the wife’s) orders. Again I attempt Operation Couch. Again it fails. Again we head back to the bedroom. Again I chant. At 1:55 a.m. the wife appears. She asks to take over. I oblige.

Now before you berate me, the ordeal does not end here. I’m awake the next 70 minutes listening to Amy alternate between chanting and couching. Just after 3 she comes to bed, believing mission accomplished. But just like (insert President Bush joke here), it’s not. Gabby begins crying at 3:20. I head to her room.

We lay on the couch. For 15 minutes she again tosses, turns and tries twice to look out the window. Then as suddenly as she awoke, she’s out. It’s just that quick. I carry her limp form to the crib, lay her down without a bump, and head to bed. After a three-hour war with instant infant insomnia, peace reigns.

The lesson learned – I’m supergluing that nightlight to the wall tonight.


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