Mr. Magpie and I had loosely planned to move minimagpie from the bassinet at my bedside (we have the Monte Ninna Nanna) to the crib in her nursery (we have the Land of Nod Harmony crib) at around six months of age. A lot of the information we’d consumed when we were expecting her suggested that we should keep her in our bedroom for the first year of her life to reduce the likelihood of SIDS, but, after consulting with our doctor and parents, we decided six months sounded reasonable. We’d been dutifully putting her down for naps in her crib for the past few weeks, working to acclimate her to it, and it was — overall — working well. (One thing I’ve not been doing well: putting her down to sleep “while drowsy instead of fully asleep,” as so many parents and doctors have advised, the thinking being that this will enable her to learn to fall asleep on her own. I want to do this. I know that this will, in the long run, pay off for us and prevent many frustrating nights in the future. But it has been so hard for me to do this. It sounds ridiculous writing that down; I’m almost inclined to delete this entire parenthetical! But there it is, in black and white. And I’m hoping some of you mamas can set me straight here. Every morning, I tell myself: “OK, Jennie, today’s the day. You’re going to rock her for a bit and then put her in that crib and see if she’ll fall asleep. It may take multiple trips back to her room to comfort her and rock her, but she will learn…” And then naptime comes and all I want to do is soothe her to sleep in my arms and then run to my to-do list. Because as precious as she is, those little breaks of 30-45 minutes give me this lovely stretch of time to sneak in some work or clean the kitchen or take a shower and when naptime comes, my top priority is to just get her to sleep rather than spend 30 minutes trying to get her to sleep on her own. Ahhh. I need to do this. I will do this. These are the types of internal monologues I promised myself I’d avoid — I want to be that mom who knows what’s best for her baby and just does it. But this has been unexpectedly difficult for me to just do. Thoughts, comments, reactions?)
Back to the bassinet: a few weeks ago, I put her down for a snooze around 6 PM. I know there are moms out there that have their babies on sleep schedules from day one, but Mr. Magpie and I have adopted a looser routine — we live our lives in little three hour cycles where she wakes, she eats, she plays, then we put her back down to sleep for a snooze. Sometimes the cycles are longer; sometimes they’re shorter. Sometimes she’s not hungry til midway through. We follow her cues. This cycle usually repeats until around 8 PM, when she goes down for the night, and will sleep stretches of 3-5 hours at a time. At any rate, because of the way the cycles worked out this day, she went down for a snooze around 6 PM — and then stayed asleep for the night, not waking again until midnight or so.
To a non-mom, this probably sounds extremely boring.
Hell, maybe even some of you actual moms are snoozing at the keyboard listening to me drivel on about routines and sleep patterns.
But this night was a weirdly emotional milestone for mini and I.
To begin with, I was thoroughly freaked out by the fact that she didn’t wake at 7…or 8…or even 9. I kept peeking into her nursery to make sure everything was OK. I was carrying the monitor around with me like it was the latest Chanel accessory. (And, BTW, our monitor, the Infant Optics DXR-8, is awesome. Super easy to use, strong signal strength, and good quality night vision. My mom has this audio-only monitor from Philips Avent — sucha good grandma! — that we used while we were home in D.C. and mini was sleeping two floors up, and it was also really good — it will drown out the base-line noise after a few seconds of listening so you don’t need to listen to static/the sleep sheep/whatever.) Finally, I decided she must have fallen asleep for the night and I readied myself for bed, pausing every few seconds to strain to listen for her as I washed my face and brushed my teeth. I even thought about moving her into her bassinet. Mr. Magpie deterred me, wisely. As I climbed into bed, I looked over at her empty bassinet. It was the first time since she’d been born that she wasn’t at my side as I lay down to sleep. I felt my eyes well up with tears. Tears, people! TEARS! I knew she’d need to move into her own crib at some point, but it just felt so sudden and unexpected and weird without her next to me, squeaking and squirming and occasionally sticking her legs in the air. I found myself thumbing through pictures of her on my phone (never a good idea) and then promptly texted a few of my mama friends who’d been around the block a time or two for back-up. They all said the same thing: “YAY! HOORAY! This is GREAT news! She’s sleeping a long time, and in her own bed! Totally normal to miss her, but it’s a HAPPY DAY!” They related to the brief heartache, but were also adamant about how incredible this would be for all of our sleep, and for Mr. Magpie and I in terms of just getting back to being us.
And they were right. Over the next few days, I eased the transition by having her sleep in her own crib for the first leg of the night, and then putting her in her bassinet after her first nighttime feeding. Then I realized how much better I slept when she was in her own room — and how easy it was to hear her if she was crying. And how she would occasionally fuss for about a minute and then fall back asleep, and how having her down the hall helped me stay in bed for long enough to avoid prematurely lifting her up to comfort her when she would actually be able to self-soothe back to sleep.
The entire situation reminded me, for the trillionth time, about the importance of flexibility as a new parent. About the incredible speed at which minimagpie is growing. About how things that I sometimes take for granted — hell, sometimes even roll my eyes at! — can suddenly seem like the sweetest, most precious gifts when she’s moved onto a new stage. I had never even given two thoughts as to how I’d feel about her moving into her own crib, except for the fact that I knew one day it would happen and that it would be a good thing. Now I find myself trying to tabulate all of the current elements of our status quo in order to be thankful for them: the fact that she will babble contentedly on her activity mat while I make dinner, rolling around and batting at the toys above her; the fact that she often falls asleep in her carseat; the fact that she still fits into our Puj sink insert for bath time; even the fact that, as excited as I am to introduce her to foods soon, she currently only consumes milk or formula. I know that all of these things will eventually give way to new routines and new patterns and I’ll look back with nostalgia. So, for now, I’ll continue to work on living in the present. On soaking her up in her four-and-a-half-month glory. On loving the here and now that will be gone tomorrow.
A few new discoveries:
+Do you know about the label Les Gamins?! They specialize in cotton basics for babies, and fall more on the “hipsta-baby” end of the infant styling spectrum, but I was especially smitten with this embroidered “Je T’aime” onesie and the jungle print on this limited edition collection.
+A cute little boutique near me carries these silicone teethers ($15), and the store manager mentioned that lots of parents rave about them. I think they’re easy for babies to hold and have lots of different parts to chew on. However, mini already has enough teethers. She’s really into these ones by LifeFactory — they’re easy for her to hold and they have parts with different textures.
+Cute idea for a baby gift: build the baby’s name with these little magnetic letters to form a name train ($7 per letter).
+I forgot to mention in my post on what I carry in my diaper bag, but I am never without these little diaper baggies ($4 for dispenser and two rolls). They came in particular handy while traveling most recently — any time I’m staying at someone else’s house, I don’t want to toss a stinky diaper in their trashcan; these give you a more discreet way to dispose when you’re visiting with friends or out and about and don’t have a trash can handy.
+I’ve heard great things about Little Nomad’s playmats — they’re more attractive than the run-of-the-mill primary colored variety, and were featured on Shark Tank! I like that these mats come with reconfigurable squares, so you can piece them together in a shape that makes sense for your living area. The founder started the business after noticing that a VERY chic friend had covered her beautiful living room with ugly foam matting for her baby. (I also think this pink printed mat is a suitably chic alternative.)
+Just ordered mini a set of these superbibs after reading rave reviews ($8 for 2). I’m thinking these may be more appropriate than her cloth bibs now that we’re preparing to start her on solid food.
+Pre-ordered mini this precious bathing suit ($20) for a few summers from now, when she’s old enough!
+My favorite diaper changing mat by Gathre is on sale right now, including their newest scalloped variations ($22 each)! I might stock up and buy a few to give as gifts.
+I bought mini a pair of these beyond adorable baby slippers from Snow + Arrow. I die over them. D.I.E.
P.S. The best baby sleepwear.