Kristin had those hiccups Monday night. We had made crock-pot chili and she had added too much chili powder and made it a bit too spicy. And spicy is all it takes to throw Kristin into painful hiccups. And so they started, high and hard.
Julia was sitting in her bumbo seat in the middle of the table working on eating a saltine cracker. At the first hiccup she dropped her cracker and looked up startled. But as the hiccups continued, despite Kristin's attempts to stop them, Julia decided that this, this was Mommy's newest Game for Julia's Entertainment. And she decided she liked it. As each horrid hiccup tore its way out of Kristin's throat Julia laughed harder and harder until she had a full-on case of the giggles as impossible to stop as Kristin's hiccups. EVERYTHING was hilarious. EVERYTHING. In the moments between hiccups Julia laughed at me, her broken cracker, her own laughter. But the hardest giggles came from the hiccups.
It was just so delightful and she was just so funny, the faces she was making in her laughter, the sound of her squeals, that Kristin and I were pulled into the giggles, too, though Kristin's giggles were frequently interrupted by hiccups and moans.
When the hiccups subsided and the giggles died down and our baby was smiling and goofy and waving her arms furiously at us to get us to do something funny again, Kristin wiped her eyes and leaned in closer. "I love you so very much" she crooned at our baby.
And Julia started laughing again.
I was speaking with A, Julia's caregiver, this morning about character and personality. A's raised 2 children of her own so far, is working on raising a third, and has been in the home daycare business for 15 years. She LOVES to give us new moms advice. We're not so much in love with all the free advice, but what can you do? But this morning she said something interesting, because I'd been wondering about it myself.
She mentioned that by 6 months a baby has the personality that they'll have for the rest of their lives. I agree with her, to a point. Because I know that tragedy or abuse can change a child's personality. But, barring that, yeah, I agree with her. She also went on to say that Julia is the most schedule resistant baby she has ever met. Despite ours, and A's, best attempts to wrangle our child into some sort of routine, she insists on doing her own thing in her own time. Absolutely unpredictable. And absolutely unpredictable in her reaction to our wranglings. Sometimes she humors us, amusedly going through the motions we request of her: Dinner between 5:30 and 6 PM, a bath or playtime (we can't bathe her every day or she gets eczema), some cuddle time, a bottle, and then to bed between 7 and 7:30. Sometimes she humors us by actually eating and falling asleep on cue. Sometimes she attempts to eat and then plays with her food and then fights and fights and fights sleep. Sometimes she wants none of it and just yells at us (important to note here, she rarely flat out cries over scheduling disputes. Her favorite method of communication at these moments is a full-bodied holler or a high-pitched screech). Most of the time she ignores our efforts and does her own thing, leaving us breathless and sleepless and dizzy and just trying to keep up.
She is stubborn, fiercely communicative of her needs, and implacable in her resistance to any rhythm imposed upon her.
And yet, she has a delightful sense of humor and is easily amused, overwhelmingly good-natured, cuddly and affectionate, and incapable of carrying a grudge beyond the immediate moment. (And yes, a baby with next to no conscious memory is STILL capable of carrying grudges, just not this baby).
She is a determinedly free spirit, but a charmingly effervescent one.
I tremble at the thought of her tween and teenage years: they're going to be hard on us, but no doubt they will also be filled with a lot of ebullient laughter.
And all of this was a long way to set up the fact that after nearly 3 weeks of Julia going to sleep around 7-8ish at night and waking only 2 or 3 times (never at predictable times, however) and going right back to sleep by herself in her crib until 6 or 7 AM, Julia has decided to wake every hour or so and make a concerted effort to get her mommies to let her get up for the day. Is she hungry? Sometimes. Is she messy or wet? Sometimes. But most of the time she has just determined that she would like to stop sleeping and it is a personal affront to her that we keep attempting to lull her back to sleep so that we can get some more rest ourselves.
It's a power struggle of epic proportions. Mostly because Kristin and I are getting more and more tired and thus less and less able to deal with this with good humor. And because, with the extra sleep (a whole 7 hours a night! YAY!) we were getting a few weeks ago, we started thinking that maybe we were getting ready to try for #2 so that we can move out of this state already and go somewhere we'll be treated like adults and citizens and human beings and a real family.
So, yeah. It feels a bit emotionally freighted.
We have a bedtime routine (Ha ha. Ha.) and a binkie and a lovey. We even have a Kenny Loggins CD (“Return to Pooh Corner”) for God's sake. But we do not have any restful sleep. We have tried co-sleeping, swing sleeping, crib sleeping. We trade off shifts. We have asked A not to let Julia sleep in the late afternoon ("Ha!" A says, "YOU try to stop her from sleeping when she decides to sleep!") and A reports that Julia really only sleeps about 3 hours total during the day. And that's on a day that she naps well. She rarely naps well. This girl does not like to sleep. So every night for the last few weeks there has been much wailing, and railing toward the heavens above (away from her ears), and useless pleadings with our little nighttime tyrant.
And dreams. Many crazy, messed up dreams from my interrupted sleep.
But last night. Last night was hard. Last night I looked at Kristin at about 3:15 AM and stated: we cannot have a second child, I cannot do this pregnant, we cannot do this again. And then I fell into a torn sleep where I dreamt Julia was lying next to me cradled in the crook of my arm, my head bent down to her face, touching noses, and Kristin was spooning us and Julia opened her eyes and looked at me and said her first sentence: I am trying to comply with the perfection you so obviously expect of me. And I turned, my chest and throat hurting even in the dream, looked into Kristin's wide-open eyes and asked her if she had just heard our daughter's first sentence. Kristin just nodded. That's the moment I woke up to Julia crying in her room, wanting to start her day at 4:35 AM.
She's trying to tell us that something has to change. I think it needs to come from me.