Yoga Baby

Lately, any chance she gets, Sophie will do a back-bend. Sitting in her sling, scrambling on her little jungle-gym, anywhere she’s close to my hands because she knows I will help spot her: she will bend herself backwards and then start laughing at the head-rush upside-down-world. She’s got a better urdhva dhanurasana wheel-pose than me, probably because she has very little fear. She likes me to help her upright again. She likes to do this at least three times in a row, like any good yogi. The other day we were out walking, and Sophie was laughingly backbending from her seat in the sling, and a stranger said, “What are you doing to that baby?”

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The nanny saga

Last week we hired a new Thursday nanny. I interviewed her, called her references, thought she would be great. She brings her 14-month-old son along to all her nanny jobs, which seemed like good socialization for little Sophie. She teaches her son sign-language, feeds her son the same weird non-baby-food that I feed Sophie (tofu & almond-milk & such), and even goes to my same yoga studio. Her references effused about how she’s both playful & responsible. Her references were very, very wrong.

At the end of the day, Sophie’s face was red from crying. Her diaper was crusty from not being changed. Our house was a mess: the nanny’s son had strewn our things all around — even rearranging the soaps in both bathtubs, mysteriously. About the only good thing the nanny did was phone Ben to come home from work hours early, because she was overwhelmed. But she was overwhelmed partly because she was trying to take Sophie along to ANOTHER nannying job that she hadn’t told us about, picking three kids up from school. For forty-five minutes Ben didn’t even know where Sophie was. And by that evening, it became clear that Sophie had a finger-shaped bruise on her face.

I feel incredibly guilty: how did I expose my child to this? The one consolation is that, within two days, the bruise had faded & so had Sophie’s uncharacteristic fear of strangers. Mercifully, she doesn’t have a deep memory, yet.

So now we have hired another Thursday nanny, but the nanny saga continues. I think it may be neverending. New nanny got sick this week, and then my backup childcare (the wonderful Sarah) wasn’t free this week either. So my friend Carrie offered to watch little Soph at our offices. Sophie actually did okay with the hour-and-a-little-more car-ride that is my commute to work, and then Sophie just giggled all afternoon with Carrie, who actually made us a CD of the Jack-Johnson music that Sophie had enjoyed dancing to while I taught my classes. It’s too bad that Carrie already has a career as a professor and can’t be our nanny.

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Okay, I finally started my own blog

It was going to happen eventually, because I’m such a blabbermouth-documentarian-narcissist, but I’m also embarrassed about that, so I’ve been resisting the blogging trend. What made me cave in, finally, is that there’s no other way I’m going to keep track of Sophie’s first year.

The big news today is that she slept through the night for the last two nights in a row. You probably have no idea how momentous this is. Imagine being woken up every two to three hours, all night long. Imagine that happening for a whole week. Imagine that every time you are woken, you need to get up, get out of bed, shiver in a rocking chair — or sit in bed with your back aching because there’s just no comfortable way to cradle a child in bed — and because you have to take care of a needy child, you don’t even get to go to the bathroom or blow your nose or put on a bathrobe first. You just keep getting up, for about a half-hour at a time, at least every 3 hours, always just before you have entered that deep REM sleep that all humans need. It’s usually fairly calm, even sweet, but you’re awake and not asleep. And then once a week or so, it’s not calm, so you have to walk the crying baby around & around, singing lullabies, for two hours or so, deep in the night while you’re desperate to sleep. Ben helps, but he’s not good at getting her back to sleep, and sometimes I started to suspect that this not-being-good-at-it was on purpose, so that I would stop asking him to help. Sleep deprivation makes me cranky.

Once you’ve pictured what waking-every-three-hours would feel like for a couple of days, then imagine that this goes on for nine months.

I think this is how they extract confessions from prisoners at Guantanamo. This is what most parents endure for the first six weeks of their child’s life, but in Sophie’s case — despite us reading all the books and half-trying all the advice — in Sophie’s case, it lasted nine months. It’s amazing what a human body can endure. I don’t mean to turn all you non-parents off of parenthood. Really, you’ll probably only have six weeks of this. Really, most of my friends tell me that Sophie is a dangerous baby because she is so cute & giggly & curious & sociable & over-the-top beautiful that she tempts everyone to have a baby, too. And I respond, “stop by our house at 2 am. That will cure you.”

I actually lost words. My brain slowed down. My fall classes weren’t as good, because I was not as quick at guiding the discussion. It is a proven fact that parents of infants are more prone to road rage. Sleep deprivation does that to you. Sometimes I yearned for sleep the way a hungry person yearns for food. Sometimes I forgot to do basic things, like drink water during the day, because I was just so tired. Once a month or so, I just totally lost it. The world literally felt darker.

For the last two months or so, she has regularly slept for four hour segments, and I would wake up somewhat more refreshed, declaring hallelujah, because I had actually gotten some moments of deep sleep. The last two months, the world started to get brighter again. And then for the last two nights, I actually got to sleep for a whole six hours at a time. The sun is out again.

This won’t last. She’ll teeth, or have a growth spurt, or stop eating all her favorite foods, or something. But for now: she slept through the night!