It is 3:59 a.m. I have to get up for work at 7:30 a.m. I would like to be asleep in my bed right now, snuggled up with my two month old baby that sleeps straight through the majority of the night. Instead, I am writing this while my two year old watches TV and generally acts like an asshole instead of sleeping. In turn, I sit on the computer and generally act like an asshole towards her. Usually, at one point, Bella begins screeching as loud as she can about something, and the exhausted adult(s) that are awake with her begin to yell back at her. It’s a neat game: when it’s done, everyone feels like the worst person ever.
This is our new fun routine in our house. For almost three weeks now, Bella has refused to go to bed before 2:00 a.m. It doesn’t really matter what time she wakes up. The biggest problem is there is no way (that we can discern) to coax this kid to fall asleep at an appointed time. This means that nap time happens literally when she’s reached the point of total exhaustion, usually at an inappropriate time. For example, a typical day for Bella is this:
11:00 a.m.: Wake up
7:00 p.m.: Drop from exhaustion — sometimes spontaneously, usually car-induced
9:00 p.m.: Wake up either completely refreshed or super groggy but not groggy enough to go back to sleep; just groggy enough to scream and try to kick/punch/head butt anyone who comes near or attempts to hug or pick her up
2:00 a.m.: Adults in the house start to get really pissed off
4:00 a.m.: Drop from exhaustion
Let me also state for the record that Bella is not the kind of kid that can be convinced to do something she doesn’t want to do. This means that no amount of bribery or coaxing is going to get her to just lay down and take a nap, or even have “rest time”. Also, waking her up early is a joke as well. She simply will not awaken until she’s done sleeping. When she sleeps, she’s pretty much dead to the world.
All sorts of wackiness occurs in between these times. Here’s a few fun variations:
- Sometimes between 2:00 a.m. and 3:00 a.m. an adult tries driving her in the car for about an hour to lull her to sleep. Last week, Rob drove Bella out to Detroit. I opted to head west and went to Ypsilanti to visit the building on Eastern Michigan University’s campus where all my grad school classes were held. About 50% of the time this works; the other 50% she wakes up as soon as you pull in the driveway after an hour of burning gas. You can imagine how well that goes over.
- Tonight I took a three hour nap at 10:00 p.m. in anticipation of being up this late. It helped me be a little more patient, but didn’t really help in the sense that I’m still staring down the barrel of a full work day on two and a half hours of sleep. The irony that I took an time-inappropriate nap to battle my toddler’s time-inappropriate nap doesn’t escape me.
- During Bella’s nap time, the adult that is in charge of her does hopeful math calculations to figure out when Bella will be ready to fall asleep. This usually involves adding about six hours to her wake up time. This data is useful for when Bella is still awake at 3:00 a.m., regardless of what time she woke up, so that adult can tell the other one, “I don’t know, she should be tired by now!”
- Occasionally Bella has to get up very early, around 8:00 a.m. This does not solve the late nap problem; instead, it simply makes her nightmare to be around until her late nap happens. I took her to Phaedra’s preschool last week, and her behavior was so horrendous while we sat outside the classroom waiting that a parent seriously suggested that I have her professionally evaluated. I would, but as far as I know, I can’t get a prescription for baby Ambien. Also, there’s nothing psychologically wrong with her, unless you call “being a dickhead” a psychological condition.
We are at the end of our rope. With the exception of tonight, there is no nap time allowed for parents that work opposite shifts. There’s no, “Let me get through this work day, then I’ll catch a quick nap when I get home.” You’re just going to be exhausted the entire day (which won’t end again until your kid falls asleep at a stupid time). I have not gotten more than five hours of sleep since I returned to work. The usual amount is three or four. It’s starting to affect me: I’m emotional, paranoid, and I can’t think very clearly most of the day. It’s affecting Bella as well: she’s a behavioral disaster all day long. Whether it’s her molars coming in, my return to work, or a combination of the two, I have no idea, but it needs to end.