Julie Lyles Carr: Are You Even a Widdle Bit Sweepy?

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Are You Even a Widdle Bit Sweepy?

Yes, I've mothered a fair number of children in my day and one would hope that I have a little knowledge, wisdom, or at least some tips to pass along. But there is one area that would come up empty should you choose to ask my advice. That would be in the area of sleep.

I've just never been able to figure it out, the 'turning baby into a good sleeper' thing. We've had some pretty good sleepers and we've had some bad ones and my contributions and manipulations to the process seem to have yielded little impact on the slumber habits of my offspring. Perhaps it is that the kids are part gerbil (see their father's lifestyle habits and brain waves for further explanation). I've done the 'dinner, bath, bottle, book' routine with them all--for some, it seems to take, for others, it's just the pre-show warm-up, kind of an appetizers and cocktails thing before the stage show. I always suspected it was something more nature than nurture and now I feel I have the lab rats to prove it.

These twins. They are simply so...different. Genders, dispositions, appetites, cries, giggles, hair color, eye color, skin tone, all of it. They represent the genetic bookends of the family; put them in the family line-up, it makes sense, but riding in the grocery cart without any of the sibs around, they look more neighbors than womb mates. And this even plays out in their sleep habits.

7 of 8 decided pretty early on that she would rather call it a night than hang around for last call. Her younger brother, on the other hand, is quite concerned that he might miss a good part of the party should he doze off before, say, midnight. Around 9 p.m. we begin the nightly ritual of stuffing them with all things Gerber, giving them a warm bath, tucking them into his and her feety jammies and dosing them with alternate helping of breast milk and bottles. For 7 of 8, it's a knockout, out on the mat within a few minutes. For 8 of 8, this is all kind and good, and he appreciates our efforts, but, really, he's just not tired, at least not the kind of tired it's going to take to get him to head for some REM. He wrestles and plays and lurches himself awake. He crawls, laughs, entertains his siblings and whines with abandon. And finally, at about the point I consider brewing the third pot of coffee for the day, he gives it up...for a couple of hours.

His twin sister has already enjoyed multiple hours of sleep by this point, her full tummy and warm toes apparently signal enough that it is sleepy time. She generally snoozes through the better part of the night, usually rousing about 5-6 am, ready to nurse a little and then snuggle down for another couple hour nap.

By 5 or 6 am, 8 of 8 and I have been doing the nursing/napping/nursing/napping dance for many hours. We have welcomed many a sunrise while watching Star Trek Original Series (although I can now kick anyone's hiney on Star Trek trivia). We have walked laps through the house. We have slept in all kinds of spots on the bed, moving away from the Daddy Person as we try to preserve some level of sleep for him. 8 of 8 is simply not as tired, not as dedicated to the art of sleep as his sister. He doesn't traffic as fluently in the beauty of a good night's sleep. He got the gerbil gene.

And so I humbly submit, to all those 'schedulers' and 'let 'em scream it out-ers' and 'did you try the bath, bottle, book thing?' that, yeah, been there, done that, got the research to back me up--there are just some offspring out there, that for some reason, are the most charming at 3 am. And, yeah, I happen to be madly mommy in love with one of them. But I respect his sleepy sister....
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