Second Baby Sleep Report

Riddle: I have a three-month-old baby named Oliver and a nearly-three-year-old toddler named Dominic. One of these children goes down easily and consistently sleeps through the night. Hint: it isn’t Dominic.

Properly Swaddled

Properly Swaddled

The Sleep Report
Sleep is the recurring theme that dominates all baby conversation: nighttime, naptime, interrupted, strategies, routines, soothers, books about, advice on and lack thereof… And since these variations on the theme were the original inspiration for this blog it seemed only fitting that this first post since Oliver is born provides a sleep report!

Oliver sleeps solidly from 9pm to 7am, and it’s not a fluke. He’s been doing this for nearly two weeks, and before that was only waking once a night. I just swaddle him up, plug him with a pacifier, plunk him down, and rock the cradle for a minute. Well, that’s not quite true. Sometimes I skip rocking the cradle if the Olympics are on or I want to sit down to dinner. As Justin says, “This kid doesn’t even make me try!”

I have never once had to hold Oliver until he was 10-minutes deep into sleep; never had to perform a “limp limb” test before gingerly transferring him only to start all over again; never spent nights hopping in and out of bed trying to soothe him back to sleep; never broken down in tears over a cold supper at 11pm; never had to count to 200 while trying to slow my heartbeat to the pace of a great white shark, nor any of the other craziness we had to do to help Dominic sleep. And thank goodness, because we’re still bending over backwards to accommodate Dom’s sleep needs!

Whatever It Takes
These days Justin and I are at the mercy of Dominic’s refusal to nap at home on weekends despite the fact that he naps every week day at daycare. Since he will fall asleep on a drive, every Saturday and Sunday we conjure up two hours’ worth of errands to run so that one of us can stay in the car while the other pops in and out at Canadian Tire and Loblaw’s.

Over the Christmas holidays various friends and their kids came to stay with us at our chalet, and it was deeply reassuring to witness first hand what other parents will do to get their kids to sleep.

One evening all the adults had our aperitif to the serenade of a toddler screaming it out upstairs. On another we sat down with friends to a filet mignon dinner while their two-year old spun out in the living room until finally passing out, sprawled at the foot of the staircase. Later that night three dads met on the landing at five in the morning, each responding to respective kiddo needs including bad-dream wailing, warm-milk whining and pee-pee-trip whimpering.

The great thing about friends with toddlers is that there is no judgment – just tacit acknowledgment that everybody does whatever it takes. We’ll all be happier if our kid sleeps, and frankly we’ll be happier if yours does, too.

no judging!

No judging! Oliver sleeps in the closet.

Don’t Wake a Sleeping Baby! 
All those questions that plagued me the first time around seem so trivial now. Is it bad to nurse the baby to sleep? Has he been sleeping too long? Should I wake him to feed? Are we instilling bad sleep habits? Are we teaching him to self-soothe? Baby Center says we should have introduced a night routine by now. Did we put him down sleepy but awake? When is it that they go from “you can’t spoil a baby” to “you’re spoiling them”?

Wrestling with those questions were the subjects of many blog posts. Now that I have a baby who actually sleeps, I wonder, dear Readers, while I waxed on about the challenges of getting Dominic to sleep, did you have any idea what I was talking about? Or were you just playing along while your own babies slept? Either way, I thank you for your indulgence.

Now I know the answer to all those questions is, “WHO CARES?”. As long as baby sleeps it’s all good! And I’m fully confident he’ll wake up to let me know he’s hungry before he starves to death. Between no work stress, no pregnancy insomnia, no night feedings, and not being tormented by whether or not I should wake the baby, I haven’t slept this well in years.

What’s Different Now?
They say every baby’s different. They say mum is calmer the second time around therefore baby is calmer. I say it’s because the universe knows it owes me this baby.

Seriously, if I had to pin it down to one thing, I’d say the major difference this time around is that now I know babies need to be made to sleep! With Dominic, I thought babies just needed to be fed and would take care of the sleep part themselves, nodding off where and when they needed to. That works for approximately the first three days of life and then… not so! Turns out that not only do you need to make babies sleep, you need to ensure they never go more than two hours awake!

Knowing and implementing the E.A.S.Y (Eat-Activity-Sleep-You) cycle from the minute Oliver was born has made all the difference between having a well-rested, predictable, happy, easy baby and–say–Dominic.

Although things have been significantly easier the second time around, it has taken me over three months to sit down and write this post, whereas I pumped out my first post-partum post in 6 weeks after Dom was born. Looking back at that post, I realize the biggest difference is me after all. The paltry revelations I had discovered then and was so eager to share seem so basic now, I wonder how I was even allowed to leave the hospital with a dependent baby human.

And it’s true, my confidence has grown. In that early post I was timid and afraid of sounding presumptuous. These days I’ve got tips for anyone who will listen. Need some input? Craving more advice than you’re already getting from your older sister and mother-in-law? Give me a call! I’ve got lots to go ‘round.

Best Before and Due Dates

Great news! Our little chicken is technically fully incubated and has a due date stamped “TODAY”!

What’s hard to process mentally, though, is that it might not actually be today. For nine months you wrap your head around a date – say, November 8 – thinking “that is the day my life will change forever and that I will get to meet the small human stowaway in my abdomen.”

And then as you get closer to B-Day, you realize it could actually happen any time in an approximate five-week span. Doc has been saying for the last three weeks that the baby could arrive any minute. Or not. He could also be ten days late.  At least at this stage we know he won’t be early!

Now, before you start snickering, it does not make me a control freak or a maniacal planner that I am having a hard time wrapping my head around this! I suspect any woman who lives in a hemisphere, century or society that tracks time at a more granular level than rainy season vs. dry season would feel the same.

Are you ready?
The most popular question I have been asked for the last few weeks is, “So? Are you ready?”

Meaning what exactly… is our condo (FOR SALE! Buy now!) set up for a fourth inhabitant? Am I emotionally ready? Psychologically? Physically? It doesn’t matter which people mean, really. The answer to any of the above is the same: “Uh, I dunno, kinda?”

My 97-year old grandmother, however, is ready. She’s been calling me every day for weeks in a semi-panic. I get questions gun-fired at me at semi-automatic speed.

Maxo! Where are you!
How is Baby!
(meaning Dominic). God bless, the next one should be so good as the first.
Who is picking him up à la garderie?
Tell me, à la garderie, ils perdent la tête? Of course they do. Who wouldn’t be crazy about ce petit!
Where is your husband? Au bureau?
What time is he getting home? What will you make him for supper?
Qu’est-ce qu’il dit, your doctor?
When you have 5 minutes even, you will visit me? It’s ok, you are busy. Ça n’a aucune importance.
You will call me when the pains start, insh’Allah.

I'm not saying a word!

I’m not saying a word!

Not right now.
Maybe it’s due to having a long life still ahead of him, but Dominic is not in such a rush. About anything, really. After struggling with how long a minute is, he has now mastered delaying tactics. His current favourite expression is, “But not right now”. Here’s a handy tip for you all, straight from Dominic’s playbook: did you know this expression carries extra delaying power when you say it with a whine and stretch out the “now” to four or five syllables? Go ahead, try it! “But not right ni-aa-owww-euh.” His second-favourite expression is “after” (FYI, can also be stretched to maximize potential delaying power).

Dominic, its bath time! “OK, but a-a-a-a-fter!”
Dominic, come brush your teeth. “After. After.
Dominic, let’s try making a pee-pee on the potty. “But not right ni-ao-ow.”

I can’t even guess where he might’ve learned this! It’s enough to make you think I sometimes make him wait for me because I’m on the phone, on my laptop, sending a text, getting dressed, trying to catch the news on the radio, or playing a riveting game of iPhone solitaire.

Is Dominic excited about the baby?

None of us in a rush

None of us in a rush

This is the second-most popular question I’ve been asked lately. I don’t know! It reminds me of when he was an infant and Justin would ask me, has he eaten enough? Has he slept enough? Is he warm enough?

Dominic knows the right words. He knows there is a baby in my belly, and that he will be a big brother. But is he excited…? How should I know??? Let’s see. “Dominic, you know the baby in Mummy’s tummy? Soon he’s going to come to live at our house.”

“Yes, but not right ni-aa-oo-ww”.

Best Before?
At this late stage in the game I see my OB every week, and at my last appointment he offered to speed things along for me. “I know you’re not due until Friday, but I can do a little harmless procedure that should stimulate labour within 24 hours. Come in next Tuesday and you should have the baby Wednesday, two days early.”

I sincerely thought about this for a day or two and I’ll admit it was very tempting to eliminate the massive question mark of “when”. (Justin, meanwhile, was busy running to the bathroom fighting off a case of the queasies that came on every time he looked up membrane sweep.) Finally it dawned on me like a Simpson-smack to the forehead. I’ll have two kids for the rest of my life. Maybe I don’t really need to rush things by two or three days? Maybe I should actually take the next 48 hours to enjoy some time to myself and the little family nucleus I already have!

Mama’s Boy
Turns out I’m not the only one who’s not in such a rush. Yesterday I went back for this week’s OB check-up. Doc predicts another week to ten days!!! I think this Li’l Dude #2 has reached the developmental stage when he’s tapped into his Italian heritage and is following his instinct to not leave Mama’s house.

I will use the time ahead to continue chipping away at my little to-do list, folding onesies and stocking the freezer. As I tick off items I start to feel emotionally and psychologically readier, too. Getting the linens washed, car seat buckled in, and triaging tiny 0-3, 3-6, 9-12 month clothing is reassuring and reminds me that we have done this once before, and that we are as ready as we’ll ever be… at least in the ways that really matter. Now if only Justin would get out of the bathroom!

The Name Game

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Justin bites. Twice, in fact. We now theoretically have a database of over 100,000 boys’ names to peruse on his iPhone – all FREE! Sounds great, right? And it is… until you discover that 30% of the names are spelling variations. Yussef, Yusef, Yeseff, Yusaf, Yussaf,

Abduuuul! Time for Dinnnner!

Abduuuul! Time for Dinnnner!

Yussoff… the list goes on. We’re already covering two major religions in our marriage so we probably won’t confuse things further with a Muslim-sounding name.

Good news! This instantly narrows down the app database to about 35,000. Eliminate all the spelling variations and we’ve probably only got 10,000 to go through!

Hmm… that still sounds like a lot. We’d better set a couple of ground rules if we’re going to get anywhere with this baby-name choosing business! Here’s what we know so far:

1. Can’t sound too Muslim. Sorry, Yussef.
2. Can’t sound too Jewish, either. Out go Moishe and Abe.
3. Can’t sound too Catholic. We already have a Dominic Colavincenzo, and grazie, but one pint-sized pope is plenty, prego.

On the other hand, we live in Quebec with multi-lingual heritage on both sides. Therefore,

4. Has to work English, French, Spanish and Italian. Later, Walter.

Only 5000 names to sift through now! It also has to flow with Colavincenzo, so…

5. Nothing starting with a hard C or a K. Bye bye, Carl and Kyle.
6. Can’t be too long. Alexander had been a strong candidate, but gets us to 9 syllables. Yikes.
7. But it can’t flow too much. There go Enzo and Vincent.
8. Nothing starting with D. As it is, I stutter every time over Daddy – Dominic.
9. By the same logic, nothing starting with M, which already stands for Max and Mummy.
10. And I just don’t like “B” names, never did.

Since this kid will carry his dad’s last name, maybe he should have an “x” in his first name, for me? We genuinely try to warm up to a few, but end up eliminating Xavier, Felix, Alex, Max Jr. and even Rex.

On the bright side, that should simplify things, right? Yup – we’re down to a possible 250 names. Except that I think of a few more conditions.

11. We adopt a rule I learned as a kid, this one from my dad when naming our new dog: Has to be something you are willing to yell up and down the block when he isn’t listening. Roger.
12. Has to sound good both for a little baby AND look good on the CEO plaque of his office door when he’s a grown man.
13. Nothing too common. I don’t want him to be the fourth Dave or Mike in his class.
14. Nothing too obscure. It must be exhausting to constantly be asked, “Oh! How interesting! Now, how do you spell A’anakuurq?”
15. Nothing that sounds too close to another name. He’s 19. The only pretty girl in the club shouts over the music, “DID YOU SAY YOUR NAME WAS BRIAN? OR RYAN??”, and disappears into the crowd, never to be seen again. OUT.

Down to fewer than 100 names now! But just when it seems we’re on a roll, turns out Justin has a few rules of his own (yes, yes, all the above are mine).

16. Each partner gets full veto rights, by which he means he vetos the names I propose. So we both must agree on the name. This is a bit of a ruse because Justin reminds me that while I’ll be laid up in the maternity ward mere minutes after giving birth, he’ll be the one with pen in hand to fill out the birth certificate forms and–in that moment of truth–can veto whatever he wants anyway. Sneaky…

17. We can’t use the same names his high school best friends picked for their sons, although one lives in Vancouver and the other in Mississauga and we don’t see either of them more than once every 5 years. Ironically, they didn’t have the same hang up and both named their kid Zach.

Justin proposes Gabriel.

I LOVE IT! It meets ALL the above criteria. It works in every language & religion, neither too common, nor obscure.

There’s only one catch. Uh, Honey? We’ve already USED Gabriel. This is Dominic’s middle name! Justin says, “But we never call him that, I mean, it’s on his passport, sure, but if we don’t use it daily, why not?”

a name only a mother could love

Think this will get veto’d?

Are you nuts?!? The baby will already be usurping D’s spot in the limelight; you can’t take his middle name, too! Besides, a key reason we used it for D’s middle name was to remember my paternal grandfather who died the same year D was born, and Dominic is for Justin’s paternal grandfather. I love the notion of using names from our family tree, but isn’t it a little weird to remember the same grandfather twice? VETO!

One thing Justin and I do agree on is not to announce any name before this bambino births. Not out of some egocentric notion that we think the surprise of what we name our kid will have some impact on your life. But because people are less likely to be judgmental when you’ve got an hours-old infant in your hands. Before that moment, no matter what name we pick, someone is likely to say, “Seriously? That’s the name you picked? I once knew this guy in Grade 9 called that and he was a real jerk.” OF COURSE you did. Know why? Because Every. Single. Guy. In Grade 9. Is a jerk.

After months of deep negotiations and with 2 weeks to go, I think we’ve finally settled on something. But since I never miss an opportunity to fall on the sword of motherly guilt (see countless previous posts), I’ve plunged onto this dagger with gusto: Did we really try hard enough to find the perfect name? Or did we just default onto the only one left???

Timing is Everything

“Wow! Only seven weeks left? Your pregnancy is just whizzing by! I can’t believe how quickly it’s going!”

Where do I put another SEVEN WEEKS worth of baby???

Where do I put another SEVEN WEEKS worth of baby???

Easy for you to say. Another 7 weeks to go? Are you kidding me??? My belly is humungous already, and it feels like I have been pregnant forever. How can there be nearly two whole months left?

Still, everyone keeps telling me how quickly it’s gone by, so I guess it only seems long to me. As far as I’m concerned, pregnancy is like a renovation job: the last 10% feels as long as the first 90%.

Fast Forward

But it’s not like I want to fast forward to 7 weeks from now. What I’d really like to do is fast forward to two years from now, when Dominic will be four and li’l dude #2 is Dominic’s current age, two and a half. That sounds like it would be more fun!

I dream of having bottles, breastfeeding and cribs behind us, diapers and tantrums a thing of the past. Shhhh!!!! All you mothers of 2 and 4 year olds… don’t ruin it for me!

Slow Motion

You know when time goes really slow? From 2:00 to 4:00. That’s a.m. and p.m., Folks. Knock on wood, pregnancy has been smooth sailing so far… except for a chronic case of incubation insomnia. I toss and turn for a couple of wee-hours every morning. And the longer this night window ticks on, the longer the next afternoon at the office inevitably seems.

A BIG minute.

I’m not the only one with a skewed sense of time. Dominic is currently working hard to figure out the concept and is experimenting with varying degrees of bossy requests.

When we try to leave his bedroom at night after tucking him in, he’ll say, “Stay!” OK, Dominic, I’ll stay for a little. But just a minute.

“No! Stay for a little minute. No, a big minute. No, a big-little minute.” OK, Dominic, I’ll stay for a big, little minute.

By now he knows there is more than spaghetti in my tummy, but boy-oh-boy is he in for a surprise when he realizes that the baby is coming to stay, and for a whole lot longer than a big, little minute.

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Last weekend a friend with a 6-month-old baby asked me if there were any key lessons I’d learned from the first time around that would make baby raising easier with #2. And it occurred to me that parenting is all about timing.

So listen up mums and dads, present and future parents and grandparents… I’ve boiled down all the parenting books, blogs and blather into three easy steps! Here it is, for your reading pleasure:

The Art of WPARenting.

When facing your opponent, timing is everything. The key to avoiding head-to-head conflict in the first place is to ensure the opponent is placated before they get cranky. See rules #1 & #2.

    1. Nap ‘em before they’re tired
    2. Feed ‘em before they’re hungry
    3. For everything else, create a diversion
Like this, Mummy?

Like this, Mummy?

Re. Rule #3: When confronted by an ornery toddler, made angry because you picked the wrong [pyjama top/sippy cup/crayon colour] or because you sliced the banana and some people like it whole, Stop! Do not engage! Immediately create a diversion and attack from the flank.

      • Is that an airplane I hear? Let’s get that jacket on and go see!
      • Oh no! Your stuffed monkey is going to get all the broccoli if we don’t hurry up and eat it first!
      • I know… let’s go tickle Daddy with our socks ON!!!

Extra bonus tip! When all else fails, point to healthy role models. You will find it much easier to achieve compliance when some friendly hero is the messenger, not mummy.

      • Ziggy’s already asleep in his bed. What a good boy he is.
      • Elmo! Did you make a pee-pee in the potty by yourself?
      • Nice tooth brushing, Ernie. Mummy’s going to give you a sticker for opening so nice and wide.
      • Daddy, I’m so proud of you! Sitting at dinner without putting your feet on the table or standing on your chair? Wow.

Follow these 3 rules (and bonus tip), and I promise, the rest–as Dominic would say–is blah, blah, black sheep.

Look But Don’t Touch

So bossy!
I thought Dominic sounded bossy when he could only bark one- and two-word orders. “Milk! Warm socks!” I figured this impression would soften as soon as he could string together more words at a time. Boy, was I wrong. Now he’s just bossy in full sentences.

Not you talking, Mommy. Only daddy”, he says, wagging his little finger in my face.

“No Daddy! Not the green cup, the purple one.”

“I get the big pillow. You get the little pillow.”

You can chalk half of it up to tone of voice. Like many toddlers, Dominic is deep in where-why-what territory. It’s just that he’s got this habit of emphasizing the “are”, making every question sound so accusatory!

“Daddy, what are you doing?”.

“Mommy, what are you talking?”

I’m trying to give him the benefit of the doubt and believe he just genuinely wants to know.

Respect for The Man
Despite the bossiness (or more likely, related to), Dominic has a deep-seated respect for authority. Whatever he’s denied playing with (e.g. scissors – too sharp! – or a ladder – too high!) he just nods solemnly and says, “It’s for the ma-a-an.”

I swear we didn’t teach him this, he made it up on his own! We’ll be walking down the street and see a construction worker, truck driver, fireman, city worker driving one of those giant vacuum cleaners, and he’ll ask “What is the man doing?”. And somewhere along the way he must’ve concluded that all the cool, dangerous toys and trucks are reserved for The Man.

Of course, I’d be lying if I said that Justin and I didn’t jump on this very manly bandwagon. More often than not, it suits our purposes just fine. Yes, Dominic, the steak knives are for The Man.

Nature or Nurture?
Maybe he learned the bossiness/respect for authority from having lots of limits imposed on his little life? A few posts ago I wrote how Dominic is a pretty cautious little dude by nature. It now dawns on me that this might be a little more due to nurture than I’d at first realized. I say that I want him to run, skin his knees, take a few scrapes and keep on truckin’, but there must be some stronger motherly instinct in me that keeps telling him “Watch your head!” and “Careful!”. (Technically I am blameless here, since clearly I picked up this habit from Daddy Safety Juice).

The other day I caught Dominic about to play with the TV wires and antenna when he caught the stern look I was flying his way. He withdrew his outstretched little fingers and said, “Not for touching. Just for looking. With your eyes”. Well done, my son.

When I was growing up, household phrase numero uno was “Look but don’t touch”. And if my brother or I ever asked why, the answer was the indisputable follow-up phrase numero dos, “Because I’m the Daddy, that’s why”.

Of course it was all I could do not to burst out laughing when Dominic said this. Growing up, my Dad was the ultimate authority and layer-down of the law, so I just had to text this little anecdote to him. He replied, “From one generation to the next. When I was growing up it was ‘Look with your eyes, not your hands’”.

Get Your Floaties On
I don’t mind the “watch out” message from me and Justin so much as the “or else” that follows, and I think Justin and I both genuinely try not to fall into that habit; it’s just too negative. Don’t climb up there or you might fall and hit your head! Don’t play with that or you might… ugh. Stop.

Dominic has recently started saying, “I don’t want to fall. I don’t want to get a boo-boo.” And although he must certainly have learnt this from us it nearly breaks my heart. I want to tell him Go! Run! You won’t get a booboo. And if you do, we’ll just rub it, give you a banana, apply a Spiderman Band-aid or kiss it better, the surest of all surefire remedies. In fact, Dominic thinks kiss-it-better works so well that he usually lets me know (in his best bossy voice) I’ve missed. “No mummy, not there, here! Not there, here! It might take me four or five tries on a pinched pinky until Dominic can finally confirm I’ve managed to get the right spot.

Check out the look on Julio's face!

Before


The Cote d’Azur sun shone a pretty bright light on the protective habits Justin and I have inadvertently developed. Here were all these little French toddlers playing naked on the beach while Dominic wore a hat, swim shirt, swim diaper, swim trunks, floaties, and a solid slather of 60SPF. I mean, at a certain point you can protect your kid from the sun, but if it gets him beat up in the school yard are you really ahead?

My European-raised brother and sister took the opportunity of our three-day road trip to peel off the layers. I can happily report he is no worse for wear.

After

After


Sock it to me
On the other hand, you know who has no R-E-S-P-E-C-T? Li’l Dude-To-Be, that’s who. He thinks it’s great sport to stand on my urethra franklin, sectioning it into little sausage links. A cow may have four stomachs, but I feel like I have four bladders ever since I got pregnant: one to empty before I leave the house, one to empty as soon as I arrive at my destination (regardless if this is next door or halfway to New Jersey), one to empty 10 minutes into every workout and one to act up at the beginning of every business meeting.

Balancing Act
So how does a mom strike the right balance between protecting her kid from sharp knives and letting him skin his knees a few times? Between letting him explore and preventing him from putting scissors in the toaster? Between teaching limits, and teaching bossiness?

Part of the answer might just be diluting the focus. Maybe Dude-To-be will be a scrappy little knee scraper simply because there just won’t be as much attention telling him not to. And maybe Dominic will relax too, once there’s not such a spotlight on him. Or maybe he’ll just pick up the torch and start mothering his little brother… Much like I did mine, and he turned out great! Right, Sam?

It’s not twins.

Truth be told, we almost stopped after Act I.

I mean, who’s to say whether zero kids, two, or eight is enough for your family?  (Eight really is enough, though.) Justin’s an only child, and I think he turned out purty darn’ swell. As for me, I lead a busy life with a packed schedule, and that’s how I like it. I want to do what I want to do when I want to do it, and a second baby isn’t really a popular ingredient in that recipe.

And so for the first year and a half after Dom was born, I wasn’t sure I wanted to do it again. The weird thing was that I felt all this pressure and expectation to have another one. As though everyone assumes you’ll have two; that’s just what’s done, right? People have two. So when I asked around I was surprised to find out many of my friends were deciding from the outset that it would be just one kid for their family.

And others who might’ve wanted a second weren’t ready either. As one girlfriend who has a son about D’s age confided, “I ask my vagina every day if we’re ready again, but it tells me it still has PTSD; we start therapy next week. Then I was reading in the Penelope Leach book how older siblings can keep babies happy playing in their crib early in the morning so I plan to adopt a 5 year old soon.”

And then at about 18 months Dominic got cute. Like, really cute. And easy. And suddenly transitioned into this cuddly, little, lull-you-into-submission kind of stage… and overnight, I was ready to do it all over again.

So does it count as an “announcement” if everyone already knows? And by everyone, I mean strangers can see the bump from across the street. At a certain point, this business is announcing itself! In any case, here goes: Justin and I are having another baby in November!

There. I said it. It may be a little anticlimactic by now, but such is the scene set for Dude #2. By the time he finally enters stage right, Dominic will have enjoyed two-and-a-half years of limelight as the first nephew, child, grandchild, or great-grandchild on both sides. To upstage D at this point this kid will have to either be Lawrence Olivier or twins…

It’s not twins. 

My director at the office recently sent a company-wide email announcement that I’d soon need a double jogging stroller, i.e. to accommodate both Dominic and the new baby.

See? Just one.

See? Just one.

All my colleagues stopped reading at “double” and immediately assumed I was having twins. I spent the day correcting them, “No no, there’s just one.” Everyone was a little blasé after that. Oh, just ONE baby? Whatevs.

Nope, still just one.  

Justin and I just got back from two weeks’ family vacation in the South of France. While there, we arranged to take three days to ourselves… a little road trip into Italy made possible thanks to my mum, sis, and bro, who all pitched in to see who could take care of D the hardest while we were away.

Not only was it our last chance to get away before we have two little monkeys on our hands, it was actually the first time Justin and I have had three days/nights to ourselves in the 2+ years since D was born. And it was glorious. So glorious, in fact, that after two days I felt so well-rested and under the impression that I’d been gone an eternity that I actually contemplated going back to France early to rejoin the family gang. Don’t worry. I disciplined myself to stay and shop, eat and not-drink in Italy for another full day.

No sooner had we struck out on our road trip then Dom asked, “Where’d my daddy go?”. To which my mum replied, “He went to Italy”. He then asked, “Where’d my mummy go?”, so she clarified, “They went to Italy to eat spaghetti.” This answer seemed to satisfy him so she stuck with it for the three days whenever he asked. The last thing I’d want to do is make a liar out my own mom, so I made sure to eat LOTS of spaghetti while away!

I already eat twice as much as Justin on any given day, let alone when in Italy. And since I’m not drinking these days and we were touring Barolo wine country, I posted on Facebook that I was eating for three while Justin was drinking for three. Poor choice of words, I guess, because now all my friends also assumed I was having twins, and again I had to clarify that no, there’s just one little guy in there.

Yup, still just a baby. 

Spaghetti Monster

Spaghetti Monster

A few days ago Dominic wanted to roughhouse and tumble around. “Be gentle, Dominic, there’s a little baby in mummy’s tummy.” It was the first time I had really talked to him about it. The next day I asked him, “Do you remember what’s in mummy’s tummy?” He concentrated hard for a minute, little brow all furrowed, and then brightened up. “SPA-GHE-TTI!”.

I guess even Dominic thinks it’s anticlimactic to just be having a baby.

Mama’s little boy

Needless to say, Justin and I are thrilled to announce that it’s not spaghetti in my tummy. It’s a baby, and just one. We expect the egg to be hard-boiled by November 8th. It will be another boy, and we’re thrilled about that, too.

People say that little boys are attached to their mommies, but Dominic is a daddy’s boy through and through. He literally shoos me out of his room every morning with dramatic whining and hand gestures. “No mummy! I want Daddy! GO BACK!”. (Confession: there are some daytime diaper deposits and middle-of-the-night-mares when I let Justin go ahead and be the favourite parent).

Maybe it’s for the best that Dom turns more towards his dad, since in a few short months my attention will be needed by another little dude. And I know he’ll just be a jelly-fish with a mouth for the first couple of months, but I am looking forward to being the centre of his tiny little universe. And he’ll enjoy being the centre of mine… at least, that is, until he realizes he is just a supporting character in the Dom Show, with hand-me-down toys and clothes. But by then he’ll have learned to share friends, activities, and the spotlight with his big brother… and how to make them all his own.

Are You Smarter Than a Pre-Schooler?

Am I smarter than a pre-schooler?
Much as I’d like to believe the answer is yes, apparently I’m not.

You already know from countless 0-12 month posts that Dominic gave us a rough go at sleeping for the first year. When he turned one he suddenly became a dream bedtime goer: bottle, book, song, lights out. Then he turned two and he got smart. Like… real smart. Like, smarter than us.

For the last six weeks or so, Dominic has been outsmarting Justin and I put together at bedtime, wrapping us more tightly around his teeny pinky finger with every day that passes. Over the last month and half, regardless of who was on bedtime duty, he’s managed to inch his bedtime from a civilized 7:30pm to a frustrating 8:30pm, and ultimately to the outrageous 9:30pm where we find ourselves these days.

One More Book?
Like any good strategist, he started making inroads into bedtime slowly, expertly playing to our parental pride so we would indulge him. I mean, how could we deny reading him another book if he can ask for it by name? He quickly learned to say Caillou, Dora, and name his various Curious George books by colour. “One more book, Mummy? Read green George?”

Any attempts on our part to walk away produced instants fits of hysteria. For a while we were plunking him in his crib and letting him scream for 3-4 minutes. One of us could then pop back in to negotiate, playing up the bluff. “Why, whatever is it Dominic? You need one more book! OO-oooh. OK. So one more book, and then dodo?”

He would nod in agreement and solemnly swear, “And then dodo.”  And for a couple of weeks the 3-minute bluff technique really worked. And then he learned to ask for more complicated titles: Wheels on the bus, One-to-Ten, and Dinosaurs. So one of us would lift him out of his crib, sit him back on our lap, and read yet another story.

One More Song?
We decided to fight back. This whole one-more-book thing was just too stimulating and rewarding for him at bedtime, but how about singing him a song? That would just be soothing. And how can we deny him if he can ask for a song by name. “Sing ABCD, Daddy?” Eventually Dominic could sense that the alphabet song was getting old with Mummy and Daddy, so he raised the stakes.

O Canada is one of the few songs that both Justin and I know all the words to, so whoever is on bedtime duty often sings it, whether English or in French. “Sing O Can-A-Da, Mummy?” Saying “No” to a 2-year old who can ask for the national anthem just feels tantamount to treason, so there we were, singing O Canada way past bedtime. When we got wise to this he upped the ante again. “En francais?”  And there we were, adding Terre de nos aïeux to the routine.

Reasoning
Clearly, negotiating “one last thing” with him was failing as a stratagem. Time to change gears. “Have you tried reasoning with him?” asked our friend Jeremy. “Just explain that it’s time for bed and that everyone else has gone to sleep.” Hmm. Worth a shot.

The first time I tried it was the day Dominic discovered blowing out dandelions. That night after our routine, I said goodnight and shut the door and light, fully braced for him to start wailing moments later. 3… 2… 1… there he went, off like a siren. After a few minutes I poked my head in to find him standing and shaking the crib railings like a deranged inmate. “What is it now, Dominic?” I sighed, clearly exasperated. “MORE ANDY-LIONS!!!” he howled. I calmly explained that all the dandelions had gone to sleep, and he was the only one still awake. He looked at me skeptically, one brow raised. “Andy lions all done?”  he asked. “Yup, they’re all done. Everyone’s sleeping except for you.” Miraculously, this worked!!!

Ziggy & Dom at the fountains

Ziggy & Dom at the fountains

The next day we went to play in the fountains with Jeremy and his son Ziggy. Ziggy was running into the water but Dom was a little hesitant (remember, this is the same kid who has to hold the doorframe with two hands to cross the threshold). I encouraged Dom and praised Ziggy for how brave he was being. That night, I tried the rationalizing trick again. Everyone’s already in bed, Dom. Grampa, Gramma, Jeremy, even Ziggy already went to bed. He lay down in his crib by himself like a big boy.”  Dominic turned to me and whispered, “Yeah… Ziggy’s brave”.

So rationalizing worked. For about three days.

The Monkey and the Trained Seal

Bossman on break

Bossman on break

And yes, of course over the course of the last month and a half we’ve tried varying degrees of just walking away and letting him cry it out. But ten minutes of hysterical bawling is enough to convince you that no one is going to fall asleep that way… It just seemed like the whole bedtime ordeal was over faster when we would go back in to acquiesce to that one last request. And when we DID get it right, he would settle down without a further peep. Of course, that last request is a bit of a moving target. Recurring themes include:

  • More milk!
  • Boogers! (mummy needs to wipe his nose which is running from crying, of course).
  • Light on!
  • Sit in the green chair!

And my personal favourite,

  • Warm socks!

I swear I felt like a trained seal. Every evening I wonder what the heck am I doing?… as I fetch him a third pair of socks, hoping this time I’ve selected ones warm enough for his two-foot highness.

The other night, he ended up in bed with such a zoo, it’s a wonder there was room in there for him at all. Stuffed crib-mates ranged from puppy and monkey to snake and octopus. And of course, his red plastic construction digger. What could be more cuddly than that?

Mummy, are you tired?
Ten stories, 6 songs and 8 departure bluffs/crying jags later, Dominic will typically turn to me and ask, “Mummy, are you tired?”. Yes, Dominic. Mummy is very, very tired.

Thank God for my best friend Christine who inspired me yesterday to appoint myself the new sheriff in town. Her advice was to pick a bedtime recipe and stick to it; hers had been 1 book, 2 songs. After some heated negotiation with Justin we settled on a generous 3 book-2 song mix. Left. 7 mins crying. Check in; wiped the boogers, kissed the stuffed monkey and puppy goodnight, left again. 7 mins crying… then… nothing!!! 8:15pm and I had my evening back!!! Time will tell if last night was a fluke or the start of something beautiful, but wish me luck for an encore performance tonight.