Saturday, June 20, 2015

On Why Sleeping Babies Are Like Fight Club

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The first rule of Fight Club, as everyone knows, is that you don’t talk about Fight Club, which on the surface has nothing to do with babies, (and also, under the surface, it still pretty much has nothing to do with babies,) except that, if your baby is a good sleeper, you should never, ever talk about the fact that your baby is a good sleeper. (There are a lot of commas in that sentence, but I have a strong emotional attachment to each and every one of them.)

I forget the reason that you can’t talk about Fight Club because it’s been a long time since I saw that movie, but the reason that you should not talk about how well your baby is sleeping is that the second you mention it, your baby will stop sleeping. It doesn’t matter whether or not your baby hears you. You could whisper it to yourself in the locked bathroom while the shower is running – “My baby is sleeping reasonably well,” you might say – and your baby will sense it and decide to mix things up by not sleeping anymore, ever again.

I’ve actually had a lot of chances to learn this valuable lesson, but apparently I’m a slow and sleep-deprived learner, so I just had to learn it again. I waited much too long to transition Calista from her infant sleeper to her crib. Dan was working a lot of nights and it was really hard to get both kids to bed at the same time by myself, and I had this theory that she slept better in the infant sleeper, except that she wasn’t really sleeping all that well. But she is finally, finally sleeping in her crib 100%, (and I bought this nifty little contraption called a Zipadee-Zip which is basically pajamas but with no holes for the hands or feet to stick out through, and it helps babies transition from swaddling and having that feeling of being held tightly that she was getting in her infant sleeper, and anyway, it’s wonderful,) and Calista figured out that she loves rolling over and sleeping on her belly, and she is finally sleeping well. 


Or, at least, she was. She was still usually waking up once a night to nurse, but it was at 1 or 2am, and then she’d go right back to sleep until 7:30ish, so I was getting five or six glorious hours of uninterrupted sleep, which is HUGE.

So then the other day, Dan and I took the kids for a walk, and as we were talking and pushing the kids along in our double jogging stroller that is approximately the size of a charter bus, I stupidly said to Dan, “Oh, I am SO glad that Calista is finally sleeping well. I got six consecutive hours of sleep last night. It was glorious.” And I said it right where nine-month-old Calista could hear me. Rookie mistake.

That night I put her to bed at 8pm. And she woke up at 8:30. And 9. And 11. And 1. And 3:30. And 6. And Lucas crawled into bed with me at midnight and kicked me in the ribs at about 4:15, so basically I got NO SLEEP WHATSOEVER.

And as I was rocking Calista in a desperate attempt to get her to go back to sleep at 6am (which didn’t work, for the record,) I thought to myself, “You just had to talk about it, didn’t you? You couldn’t have made conversation about the weather??” Turns out she has a cold, and it’s been three nights with very little sleep, and I am about 99% sure that the only reason she got a cold is that I said she was sleeping well.

I am not the only mom who has experienced this phenomenon. It’s very common. I have a friend who had three kids who were excellent sleepers and slept through the night early and often. She gave me advice on helping Lucas (who despised sleeping when he was a baby) to sleep longer, and she mentioned that her three kids were great sleepers, and then her fourth kid who wasn’t even born yet at the time of this conversation was an awful sleeper. This is not a coincidence. It is a direct result of her having talked. This is a scientific fact*.

So the thing to remember is that if your kids sleep well, you should never, ever talk about it. People might try to get you to talk about it. They might say things like, “Does your baby sleep well?” And if your baby doesn’t sleep well, by all means, feel free to answer them. But if you’re lucky enough to have a baby who loves to sleep, do not answer this question. Instead wink at the person who asked and say “Fight Club.” They will have absolutely no idea what you’re talking about, but hopefully you can confuse them enough that they forget what their original question was. Then while they’re still trying to process what you said, quickly walk your well-rested self away from the conversation. And maybe keep walking until you reach my house so that you can entertain my kids while I nap. Because I’m pretty sure the third rule of Fight Club says something about the fight being over when someone goes limp, and I’m about ten seconds away from passing out from exhaustion.

*Not a scientific fact.

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