The Book of Long Nights
9/11/14, Day 14,009 (Mercena Day 27): The Book of Long Nights
This day is so named in honor of the Caliber Composition Book in which we attempt to record her every poop, pee, fuss, meltdown and blessed moment of sleep. We’ve been keeping it since 8/21/14, when we realized our emotions (and exhaustion) were coloring our memory of events. Was she really sleeping so little? Crying so much? And how many times a day was she peeing?
The book doesn’t offer an ironclad answers, as it can be hard to record a meltdown as it melts. But, it has provided an elusive (and probably illusory) sense of control at a time when we need it most. We may not be able to help her sleep through the night, or endure a diaper change without fussing, but at least we can record what happened and adapt to challenges based on more accurate reflections.
All of this to say: we knew last night was going to be trouble.
We knew it because our book showed that she’d basically slept from 3:55pm to 9:50pm, waking only for brief meals and relatively placid diaper changes. And so it was I found myself at 11:45pm trying to console a very fussy baby, calming her to sleep after a half hour of tricks, only to do the whole thing over again at 12:45am; only this time it took over an hour to calm her all the way down because she was even more overtired.
She rallied: Heather got her down after waking again at 2:22am for a three hour spell, and after a seemingly resurgent fussiness, I had her co-sleeping for 2.5 hours and she’s sleeping again now.
Here’s the good thing: I’m not really stressed out by these long nights, and it’s been weeks since I felt at all helpless or overwhelmed. Part of that is the reality that in spite of my efforts, Heather bears the brunt of the exhaustion, both because she’s the one with the food, and I think because in these early weeks, there is simply a more direct current of energy between mother and child. I can shake things off in a way that isn’t yet possible for her.
All the same, I am so grateful that I’ve been able to take this time for paternity leave. I don’t feel like an outside or an interloper with my daughter. I feel like her father, someone who knows what she needs and more often than not, can provide it for her.
I feel like I really know her, and that’s worth the long nights.
Technique never stands still: it only advances or retreats…
Writing: 141 out of 178 days (Untitled new play)
Spanish: 129 out of 178 days
Music: 46 out of 83 days
What small things did I do yesterday to help build the Honeycomb?
(And what does it mean to “Help build the honeycomb?”)
- Ate and cooked local, organic, vegetarian food, and used cloth diapers for Mercena;
- Asked NY state leadership to adopt Smart Snacks in School nutrition standards;
- Asked Congress to take a stand alone vote on the President’s war on ISIS.