Tuesday, April 26, 2005

Putting Baby On A Schedule

I woke up this morning and realized I had been conquered by a 4-month-old infant. My sweet little baby boy, Alexander, has me wrapped around his chubby little finger.

When I initially learned I was pregnant with my fourth child, I told myself I would handle things differently from the way I handled my other children. I decided I would put the new baby on a schedule and thereby create a way for me to actually have a life without a baby practically glued to my hip. I fantasized about all the things I would be able to do because he would be on a schedule. I would be able to shower for at least 5 minutes per day without the cry of an infant penetrating the walls of the bathroom. I would be allowed to leisurely enjoy at least one meal per day. I would be able to clean the house and cook dinner while my new baby napped on cue. I would be allowed to watch television when I wanted to. I would even get to sleep for more than one hour at a time.

When baby Alex was born, I decided it would be fair to allow him a couple of months to adjust to life outside the womb. Also, in all honesty, I was dead tired after 9 months of pregnancy and just plain did not care about scheduling anything that did not involve me going immediately and blissfully to sleep. So I fed Alex when he cried to be fed. I let him sleep whenever and wherever he wanted. He usually wanted to sleep in my arms, so I began to adapt to sleeping cuddled up with him. I took frantic showers whenever he slept without me for more than 60 seconds. Alex usually only slept without me once per day so if I missed that 60 second window I, unfortunately, missed my shower. I learned to shove bites of food into my mouth in between singing baby songs and patting him on the back. I forgot about watching television because Alex simply did not appreciate the distraction. My house quickly began to resemble a popular toy store after a 90 percent off sale. I quickly rediscovered the joys of preparing frozen meals. I learned what I should have remembered from my when my older children were babies. I learned that baby is the boss.
Alex will be 5 months old tomorrow and I'm planning a rebellion. I want to be the boss again. I hear such wonderful stories of babies who sleep for more than 1 hour at a time. I even hear stories, from well meaning friends, of babies who sleep without their parents. I hear all sorts of great stuff about babies who happily allow themselves to be molded into a routine. When I'm feeling tired I am almost sure these parents are lying through their teeth about having happily scheduled babies, but after getting some rest (with Alex in my arms of course) I always have renewed hope that it just might be true.

So I have decided to put my foot down and retake my throne as the head of the household once more. I will start slowly so I will not cause my charming little dictator too much unrest. I will start by putting Alex to bed at the same time each night. I will then sneak out of my room to enjoy some television. If that works well, I will begin putting him in his crib (he has never spent more than 5 minutes in it so far) and leaving the room while he is actually still awake. Getting Alex on a sleep schedule will, I feel quite sure, be my toughest challenge. If I can manage that I will confidently move forward in helping baby Alex to adapt to my desired schedule.

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