Having a few friends who are expecting their first child, I have all of a sudden become 'the guru' that they are seeking answers from. I don't think it's because I am any better at being a Mom than anyone else, I just think they know I will tell them the truth - warts and all. So, when they ask me what they should be ready for, I tell them the stuff that most people (and books and websites) have already told them. Then I get down to the nitty gritty.
There are some things you know you will have to face when you have a little one. Being sleep deprived for months on end. Not being able to eat a full, hot meal... again, for months on end. Being a member of the walking dead because you are sleep deprived and haven't been able to eat a full meal for months on end. It's almost a right of passage. But one of the things people don't tell you is that you very quickly have to develop a skill for moving a sleeping babe from one place to another, keeping said babe asleep.
And it's not a skill comes easily either. Some parents never master it and simply leave it to the other parent to do the 'maneuver'. 'No way. I'm not picking him up. I'll just wake him. You do it better.' And while this may be a fact, it's still a bit of a cop out - it's not something you can just do - it's a fine art that you have to practice at. And believe me, I know.
When you have a little one fall asleep in your arms, it's all sweetness and light - for about 30 seconds. Then you realize you have to either a) put them in their bassinet/crib or stay that way with them till they wake up or b) risk falling asleep with them in your arms only to wake up with either a sore neck and/or back or have your arm fall sleep and then try to do the weird one limbed shuffle to get them into their bed. Neither of which is a fun option. Been there, done that.
Little P was always pretty good at getting to sleep - it was the keeping her asleep that we sometimes had trouble with. So much so that when she was a baby, if she fell asleep in her swing, that's where we left her - tip-toeing around her while she slept. And falling asleep in the car - most days that was a piece of cake. Moving her from the car to the crib, that was the tricky part. Somedays we would just take the car seat up to her room, and let her sleep in it. I'm not saying that's a perfect scenario, but when you have a little one, you take what you can get when it comes to them sleeping.
As she got older, it became apparent that I would have to take her out of her car seat and get her into her crib to ensure that she would get a decent sleep. This is where the 'art of transference' came in. You have to get their straps off them, get your arms under them, move them into your arms, carry them into the house (and in our case, up stairs), get them into their room, and gently, ever so gently, ease them into their crib. Usually while holding your breath and trying not to step on anything that would make a noise.
And, if you were lucky, you would get them down, get out of their room, close the door and (praise the gods) they would still be asleep. If you weren't, then the minute you shut that door, the crying would start.
I won't lie - I have gotten pretty damn good at it. So much so, that if there's any doubt as to whether she will stay asleep, M will look at me and go 'She's all yours'. Thanks babe. There are of course, some days when I'll think I nailed it only to have her wake up the moment I put her in her crib. And the little bugger will then be wide awake till it's time for bed, regardless of how much time she slept in the car.
As she's getting older though, it's getting harder to maneuver her into her crib. She's longer and heavier, so it can take a lot of twisting and turning on my behalf to get her down without waking. Some days it's too easy - other days, like today, not so much. But, hey, that's what parenting is all about. Taking the good with the bad, and having the ability to still laugh about it at the end of the day, even if that day started at 3am.
So, till next time, flex those muscles, warm up those arms, because you are going to need all our strength for this one.