He wakes up for the day between 6:30am and 7:30am, regardless of when his middle of the night feeding was and always with a loaded diaper. Then he either feeds in peace or is harassed with love by big brother Maxon, this time depending on his last feeding AND if big brother has been released from his room. Then we all go downstairs for breakfast where Cooper usually falls asleep in the SnuggyWrap, his favorite place to nap. It’s a commitment donning the wrap for the morning nap as it rules out some personal activities, like showering or changing out of pajamas, but it’s oh-so-convenient for keeping the hands free to get Maxon ready for school, throwing some laundry in the wash, or enjoying some coffee, oh, and maybe work a little.
He wakes for the next feeding and then goes for a workout on his activity mat. As he’s gotten older, his attention span has lengthened. The toys receive laser-focused attention, usually accompanied by some serious head-scratching, so much so that I’ve decided to put a hat on Cooper every time his hands are free to save him from scalping himself. Once those toys get boring, he’s ready to see a familiar face. Once Mommy or Daddy comes into view, the smiling, cooing and chatting starts up, and shame on the parent that tries to break eye contact first. I’ve had to force myself to walk away when my cheeks start to get sore from all the smiling. Usually about now, it’s time for yet another nap. None of these naps are any consistent length, try as we might to find the perfect environment to nap (crib? swing? white noise? dark room?)
The late afternoon is pretty unpredictable. As you can see, I haven’t been able to assign a time of day to any of his activities past the morning wake-up. Feeding can be every 2-3 hours, and really only recently has it been on the higher end of that time frame. Napping can be anywhere from 20-90 minutes. If I have any errands to run, this is usually when it happens so the transitions from moving to parked car, stroller in motion while shopping or at rest when at the cashier, going from inside to outside, can really interrupt a nap… and ruin the image of calm and collected mom with sleeping baby to one perspiring with embarrassment with a shrieking infant. Getting dinner ready and actually eating it with everyone at the table can be quite challenging as well during this time. The wrap, the activity mat, the bouncy chair, and big brother Maxon in Cooper’s face are all rotated through until the end of the evening.
Ah, the evening routine. Since Maxon has one, we decided to get Cooper in on the action so this one actually has a set timeframe of between 7:30pm and 8:00pm. So while Maxon is getting a bath in the bathtub from one parent, Cooper is usually getting one from the other too, but his is in the infant tub in the walk-in shower where we can keep the space enclosed and warm. And no matter how cranky or tired Cooper is, he absolutely adores getting a bath. In fact, his mood changes as soon as his little onesie is taken off, as if he knows what is coming next. He really comes alive in the bath with kicking legs, waving arms, and big round eyes locked on you. And he doesn’t mind when water is poured on his head or if it drips down his face. The real challenge is that short period of time between when it’s time to get out of the bath and then getting dried off, lotioned up, and dressed. It’s critical optimal temperatures are maintained lest he shivers one time too many and the happy mood in the bath dissipates into a howling fury. Actually, the howling fury occurs anyways once he’s dressed, which signals he is urgently ready for his night-night feeding and bedtime. Ironically, even when he is just DESPERATE to start this part of the night, it can still take an hour from when he starts nursing to when he finally gives in to being put down in his crib. Not at all frustrating.
Which brings us to the most unpredictable part of the cycle: the middle of the night. He has been great this week with getting one 4-5 hour stretch, but this is usually at the beginning of his sleep cycle so Mommy is not really benefiting from it. After that, it could be 2-3 hours until the next wake up. Mind you, this is 2-3 hours after he last started feeding, not necessarily when I am able to lay him down peacefully in his bed. Of course, last night he woke up after only 3 hours when one arm managed to come free from the top of his SwaddleMe blanket and he worked himself up chewing on his fist and scratching at his face but at least we got a 4-hour stretch after that. The last sleep stretch in the early dawn hours don’t usually work in our favor either as big brother starts to rouse… and Cooper’s digestive system, for that matter. And that is how we meet the next day.