I was nervous about having three kids. Not, “How will I ever love a third child as much as I love the others” kind of nervous, but more like, “How will I get them in and out of the car without anyone getting run over in the parking lot?” kind of nervous. Or, “How will I get up in the morning to take Madeline to school after being up all night with a screaming baby” kind of nervous. Then Benjamin arrived and it hasn’t been that bad. My mom was here at first and that was a HUGE help. Jay was off from work for that same time so he entertained the older two while I bonded with and snuggled with the baby. Then my mom left and Jay went back to work and I was on my own. And it wasn’t as stressful as I thought it would be. Now don’t get me wrong, I still lose my temper and have a hard time exercising as much patience as I did with fewer children, but I’ve managed to make dinner most nights and not kill anyone, so it’s a success in my book. To top it all off, by some miracle Benjamin has been sleeping for 6-8 hours (the last two nights were 8) before waking up to eat and then going right back to sleep. I wake him up in the morning to take Madeline to school and it kills me every time. No rule deserves to be followed more than, “never wake a sleeping baby.”
His great sleeping habits might be due in part to being put to sleep on his belly. I’m not afraid to admit it: I’ve been putting him to sleep that way every night and for every nap since I tried it once while he was congested. And isn’t belly sleeping just the biggest secret out there. Right up there with co-sleeping. I followed “back to sleep” like it was law and I’m pretty sure I could have saved myself a lot of tears if I had just put Houston on his belly when he was still waking me up every thirty minutes at six weeks old. On the other hand I know some other belly sleepers out there who still wake up a lot, so it’s more likely that this is just his nature. Makes me even more sure that any kind of “sleep training” at this age is pointless and does more harm than good.
So there I was, confident that I could do this mom of three thing (maybe even mom of four if dad comes around), when we decided to take a little road trip. I need to mention that Benjamin seems to hate the car, so I was hesitant to put him there for hours at a time. I thought that maybe a longer trip with less stopping and starting might be better than just the around town driving we usually do. I was kind of right. He did sleep some and really only lost it when he was probably hungry. His behavior in the car was the least of our problems (maybe not the least, but definitely not the biggest problem).
There was a tropical storm or hurricane out in the Atlantic which was supposed to make for great waves on the eastern coast of Florida and Jay wanted to go surf. Rather than stay home with the kids while he went by himself, we decided to make it a family affair. We could go to the beach, swim in the pool, etc. I’ve seen the pictures friends post on facebook of their babies asleep on the beach under an umbrella or in a little tent. Looks like fun.
Aw, look at the cute baby in the tent. This lasted ten minutes, and that’s being generous. The rest of the time was spent trying to keep him out of the sun while keeping an eye on the other two, trying not to get him too sandy, and feeding him to keep him from crying.
Big mistake. Not only is a six week old on the beach zero fun under any circumstances (in my opinion), it’s even worse when you try to do it with two other kids while the only other adult with you is surfing. Luckily no one even tried to go in the water until he came back. Houston only tried to dump sand on Benjamin a couple of times.
The drive was fine and when we arrived at our destination it was time for dinner. We decided to go to a pizza place because that would guarantee the kids would eat with little protest. I even found a place with good reviews and a coupon on Yelp that would save us 50%. Win. But wait, Benjamin was tired. He slept some in the car, but sleep while in motion is never as good as sleep in his bed. Cue the screaming in the restaurant. Jay took him outside. That worked for a minute. I took him out of the seat and nursed him. That worked for a minute. You know what worked? Standing next to the table cradling him in my arms and swaying back and forth. While eating pizza. Just as we finished up it started pouring rain. Torrential downpour, thunder, lightening, the whole deal. Instantly soaked on the way to the car. It was definitely time for bed.
We were staying in a suite that was basically a little two bedroom apartment. One bedroom had a twin bed and a full. I thought we could push the full against the wall and Houston could sleep there. He has never slept in a bed alone before and I’m not sure what made me think it would work now, but it beat anyone sleeping in bed with us. Benjamin was in our room in the pack & play. Jay got in the bed with Houston and stayed there until he fell asleep. But then Jay tried to leave…and Houston woke up…and all hell broke loose. No one can scream like Houston. He’s been honing that skill since birth. He was out of control. Just screaming bloody murder. Madeline woke up and she was crying. No one wanted to get in their beds. I got Madeline in bed and then tried to lie down with Houston. He was not interested. I had to hold him down. He finally dozed off and that’s when I heard Benjamin starting to make noise in the other room. Great. I tried to get out of the bed without waking him up. Nope, not happening. I trade places with Jay and it all starts over. It is now about 2:30 a.m. The screaming continues. Jay gives up and now we have kids wandering around the suite. I put Benjamin down and he goes right back to sleep (love that baby). Back in bed with Houston and Madeline and we look at pictures on my phone in an attempt to keep everyone calm. It works and Houston lies down again. I look at the time and it is 3:15. He decides he wants the phone and when I say no the screaming starts again. I spent the 45 minutes or so holding him down, trying to cuddle with him and calm him down, shushing and singing and fighting the urge to put a pillow over his face. Then he passed out. And so did I. We were up at 7:00. You know it was a rough night when the six week old got the best night’s sleep.
Three hours of sleep makes for cranky kids, cranky parents and a less than fun weekend. And dirty looks from the occupants of the adjoining rooms…and probably everyone within a two block radius. I would have rather stayed home with the three of them by myself. That I know I can do without too much stress. Not to mention the trip did nothing for my campaign to have a fourth baby. Just when I think Jay might be coming around we have to go and try to travel. Nothing makes you want more kids than traveling. I’m always hearing people who got off of a plane with kids or out of the car after a long drive and say, “I can’t wait to have [more] kids!”
But at least Jay got to surf and on the way home we stopped at an outlet mall and went shopping at real stores. We also got this:
And last but not least, President Obama is doing a bus tour of Florida and we saw Air Force One parked at Patrick AFB.
Totally worth it*.
* Italics = sarcasm.