Harper in action.

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Thursday, January 4, 2007

Sleep, Thy Name Is Enemy

Harper hates to sleep. I could pretty much stop there and you'd get the basic point of this entry. In fact, if someone says to you, "Tell me about Kyle's new post", and you totally space the content, don't worry, all you need is "Harper hates to sleep". But to leave it at that would be kind of like saying George Washington Crossing the Delaware by Emanuel Leutze is a good painting.

I know some of you are questioning my choice of metaphor. "Washington Crossing the Delaware???", you think as you conjure up an image of the painting; most likely remembered from a school text book in which it was shown at maybe six inches by two inches. Well, in case you forgot it, here it is below gloriously displayed at six inches by two inches. Enjoy.

Washington applied his "laissez-faire" attitude to all aspects of life.

I've had the pleasure of seeing this painting in person at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City. I was absolutely stunned when I saw it. I was just walking down a hall looking from one painting to the next and suddenly I was before this huge canvas. I couldn't believe it was the same painting from history class. The actual image is twenty-one feet long by twelve feet high! That's tall enough for Washington to have been painted life size (though I don't think he is). The detail is amazing and there's so much going on in the background that you just can't see at a reduced size. See, the painting has layers, and my initial statement has layers. Just as there is so much more to Leutze's masterpiece than old George standing in a boat, there is so much depth to Harper's hatred of sleep.

Harper has always struggled when we try to put her down. Nap or bedtime, she fights against her physical need to sleep. We try to keep our routine standard. Whenever it's time for Harper to sleep, one of us will take her to her room, put on a CD of lullabies or nature sounds, rock her in the glider and hold her as she drifts towards slumber. At least that's the theory.

First of all, you can't just hold her. We recently quit swaddling her so now we have to deal with flailing arms and kicking legs. She loves to swing her arms around or reach up and grab your face. She'll just see if she can get a big handful of throat, lips, eyes. If she can't, she'll try to grasp at arms, nipples, hair. Anything within her reach will be pinched, pulled or clawed. But not in a violent, thrashing way. It's much more like a compulsive instinct. Her hands will not stop (I mean ABSOLUTELY WILL NOT STOP!!!!), until she's been asleep for ten minutes. That's right, she doesn't settle down and then go to sleep. Hell, she doesn't even settle down when she goes to sleep. She settles down ten minutes after she's already asleep!

Sometimes I'll try to stroke my hand across her forehead and down over her eyes so she'll close them. Usually she senses that this is an effort to get her to go to sleep. Her immediate response is to burst out in heaving sobs. She will also generally be very squirmy. Every now and then I'll just let her do what she wants to do. I figure she needs to get comfortable, then she'll settle down and go right to bed. Nope.

First she'll arch her back and turn over so she's on her stomach. Then she'll push away from my chest and look at me (usually attempting to grab my face) or at the wall behind me. We have these little barnyard animals on the walls so Harper can learn that dogs are blue with plaid patches sewn on them for spots. We're also teaching her that any animal will have the sound it makes appear near them. I think she's really confused that our cats aren't followed around by little bubbles that say "Meow".

After she's done facing me, she'll turn towards the door of her room. I think she's probably looking for McCall, hoping that she'll come take her into the living room where all her toys are. I also suspect that when McCall is trying to put her down she hopes the same from me. Then she'll twist over and end up on her back in my arms the same way she started. If I let her she would continue this routine ad infinitum growing more frantic and upset, but never getting any closer to sleep.

So what's the solution? Well, if letting her do what she wants is ineffective, perhaps gently but firmly restraining her would work. Yeah, about as well as Bush's plan in Iraq. Which is to say, that so far restraining Harper has led to the deaths of 3,000 US soldiers. And I'm no closer to victory, again, just like Bush. Sorry about that, let me just put this soap box away.

So right now, we don't really have a solution. The past two days Harper hasn't taken an afternoon nap. We've tried but after an hour of trying to soothe a baby to sleep and getting nowhere you have to figure it's just not happening. Then again after 3,000 troop deaths you'd figure the President would come to the same conclusion. Okay, that's it. For real, I'm chopping up the soap box now and I'm building a little fire. It's just, he makes it so easy!

And then there's night. Oh man, I haven't even touched on nighttime. Harper is good for about five straight hours of sleep. From 7:30pm to 12:30am. From there it's anything goes. She may stir every hour for the rest of the night. She may need another bottle and then sleep four more hours. She might need a diaper change and then take another hour and half to get back to sleep. And she may wake up anywhere between 5:00am and 6:30am and she's ready to go for the day.

My life is clouded, and hazy. I'm in a constant state of sleep deprivation. McCall is completely exhausted. When we wake up we're tired, all day we're tired, we eat dinner tired, we sleep tired. How can you sleep tired? I mean, just look at that sentence. It doesn't make sense. And yet, I'm living it.

Two things before I go. One, I'm really not exaggerating for comic effect here. This is my actual existence and right now, it sucks. Really badly. And two, there's probably someone out there with triplets who all have colic and have never slept ever and they're six years old and you're starting to fear them because sometimes you wake up and they're standing over you with knives in their hands and you're probably thinking, "This guy doesn't know how easy he's got it", and you may be considering posting a comment or emailing me or something. Well save it. I don't care about your situation. Go get your own blog or better yet, get a time machine, go back in time pre-babies and get a vasectomy because I don't need to live in a world with homicidal, insomniac triplets, okay!

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