Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Twilight Zone of the Crib

Imagine, if you will, two grown adults cowering, hiding in the bathroom of a hotel room as though hiding from a hunting party or a sheriff's posse.  Imagine their whispered conversation; words merely mouthed, with but the slightest breath spared for pronunciation.  Now imagine they are sitting on the hard, cold, stone floor in nothing but their pajamas.  Finally, imagine them with reading material and drinks, as though they expect to remain in their hideaway for an undetermined, but long, duration.  You, dear reader, have just imagined what Cora and I went through two nights ago.

It all began three nights ago?  Or maybe it was four, the days run together here.  When we first arrived in Guanzhou we noticed an immediate and positive change in our beloved Chloe.  She was more relaxed and more sure of us.  She'd spent the previous four days laying ruin to our sleep patterns, which was not altogether unexpected.  Still, our patience, good will, and sanity had been worn surprisingly thin in those four day.  Maybe it was the intensely penetrating cry wail that came from those deceptively sweet lips, or perhaps it was the intense heat generated by her little body when sleeping on you at night.  Either way, we were both frustrated with her night habits, which ranged from tossing and turning on your abdomen to wailing full volume in your ear.

She would not go back to the crib that first night and was inconsolable outside of Cora's loving, but tiring, arms.  twice we were able to trick the child when we switched off in the dark of the night, just in case she opened her eyes.  It was successful for the most part and gave Cora a much needed reprieve from constant contact, even if it was only for an hour or so.

In Guangzhou, though, she seemed a different baby.  She willingly stayed on the floor to play when Cora got up.  She let me come close without crying out.  She seemed to become a different, much happier, child.

I took her for walks in Changsha.  I changed her diaper.  I made her bottle.  None of these things changed her feelings for me.  She merely deigned to play a game or two with me.

In Guangzhou, she let me bathe her.  She posed less of a challenge during diaper changes.  She seemed changed!  Which gave us hope.

This night, the one in which two adults cowered in a bathroom, she had let Cora place her in a crib for a few minutes without crying.  (Cora had suggested putting her in the crib, which had become a catchall for dirty laundry and the like since we felt no hope in it being used for its intended purpose, and I nearly fell over removing all the laundry and cleaning it out for its intended purpose)  This gave us considerable hope.

We had ordered pizza and, after eating that, I was going to go get the laundry that I had taken to get cleaned at one of the local stores.  Cora decided she would put the child in the crib and try to get her to sleep.  As this no doubt included much wailing, I was more than a little eager to run my errand.

When i got to the store, I was a few minutes early.  The clothes were not there yet, so I had to wait a few minutes.  I was in shorts, as I had been since our arrival (my reasoning is that since palm trees grow here, i should be able to wear shorts.  Perfect logic if you ask me).  I was telling the store keeper that I was from a much colder climate and that this was shorts weather for me.  She was in a long coat and looked as though she wished she'd worn gloves.  I was comfortable.  I waited, hoping the clothes would indeed come, but also hoping to spend a little more time away from the hotel room.  The clothes came and I paid 50 yuan(Half-off! Big sale) and walked home, thoroughly enjoying the night air, the sights, and the sounds.

When I got to the door I could hear the child from outside.  I briefly entertained the idea of a longer walk, but decided I should support my dear wife.  I opened the door with considerable rustling of plastic bag and heavy door, only to find Cora on her knees in the doorway of the bathroom gesturing vigorously and, not without some threat of violence in her eyes, whispering for me to be very quiet and join her on the bathroom floor.

This seemed a little out of character for my wife, but the screaming child in the main room and my wife's eyes convinced me to do as instructed.  I slipped off my shoes, ditched the laundry, and joined my wife on the cold bathroom floor to await certain doom.

Nothing broke, except perhaps Chloe's resolve, and she finally fell asleep after a few false starts which had us looking at each other to see if the other one had a better idea of what was happening in the next room without peaking.  Finally we left our haven hesitantly to go to our own bed and look at each other with mixed relief and a little accusation over small sounds the other had made during the siege.  For the first time in nearly a week, we slept alone...er...together...without a third-party observer.

Last night, we began the same routine and it only took ten minutes of wailing before she silenced herself and fell asleep.

Tonight was a different matter.  She had had a good nap, starting on Daddy's chest during a walk to let Mommy get a nap, and ending on Daddy's chest in our hotel room.  She was exquisitely happy today.  Maybe it was all the sleep.  Maybe the umpteen full-to-overflowing diapers.  Maybe both.  She was not tired.  We got her to her crib a little late.

It came with the expected crying, but that soon dissolved into wiggling and giggling.  After forty minutes in the bathroom, we decided to go to bed ourselves.  She cried a little, but other than that refused to sleep.  Cora had laid her back down a couple times.  I then took over.  I laid her back down twice.  Then i stood over by the bed and watched.  She sat up.  I turned to walk in her direction and she flopped back down.  She continued to coo and giggle.  She sat up again.  I walked over and laid her back down.  I took away her rattling dolly which I had foolishly left in the crib, and replaced it with her lovey.  I attempted to tell her in a menacing voice that she needed to go to sleep.

She answered me with her two-toothed grin.  It was all I could do not to pick her up and swing her around because she was so damned cute.  I realized she was playing with me, and went back to bed to wait it out, trying to ignore her antics.  Strongly, and in a most manly way, I might add, resisting the urge to go back over and indulge in more of her darling, contagious smiles.  Soon, it was quiet over there and I retain my macho-ness...sort of.

Who knew being a dad was so hard!?!      


Kelly said...

That's precious.

Christie said...

I have GREAT news for you - when we were in China - we never slept hardly at all. It was horrible - we were always trying to find a way to help her sleep with us in the room. Well, we were ALL cranky and tired by the time we got to the USA.

Within two days of getting home - Keira was like a different baby. Just getting on a schedule and having uninterrupted sleep time in our warm cozy beds (for all of us) changed everything. We were all so much happier and our adjustments started happening much quicker. It was NIGHT AND DAY. So I'll tell you what I told myself "Let's just make it through and get home so we can start our new normal"

And it was AMAZING to be home again...there are NO words!

Alyson and Ford said...

You are writing what most parents do not do on their blogs. Some of the "bad". New parenthood comes with sleep deprivation. We experienced it for months. Hopefully you will have a much shorter time and those wonderful, joyful cute moments will happen more often!

Alyzabeth's Mommy

Anonymous said...

Well you truely have experienced everything that a natural birth would have been like. With your front pouch carrier which is very much like the last month of pregency all the way to the new born's almost certain switched schedules, you can tell anyone that she is truely your child in blood because of the blood-sweat-and-tears you have experienced together. Your dad and I have sure missed seeing you or just knowing that you are near by. Can't hardly wait to see you but we also want you to know that if it gets to be that time and you know you can't handle being around us, we'd understand. Sadden but understanding. Being parents is just like getting older, is not for the sissies. Love the 3 of you. MOM

Nicole said...

Just have to say I'm enthralled with your blog - both the pics and the writings. Thanks for sharing!!! Nicole (the random unknown person that you added b/c I told you I was friends with the Wells and wanted to know more about your adoption too) :-)

Jewels of My Heart said...

So thankful you are all safely home. Your little Chloe is just breathtaking and your photographs of China are beautiful...
I will be praying that she is able to feel secure and sleep well. I can tell you that our daughter has been home for over 4 years and still has sleep issues. I spent over 2 and half years in and out of her room at night to comfort her and help her sleep. Yes, it can be exhausting and frustrating... some children do really well in this area and others struggle. We will never know what our children experienced before the Lord placed them into our arms. Praying for your precious family and that you are all able to get the rest you need.
God bless you,

Kimberly said...

The good thing about this is that you were able to take your child for walks in Changsha. That way you had some quality time together. I remember when I made my argentina travel I was with my son and he was in a bad mood all the time. As soon as we arrived at the Japanese Garden (one of the main attractions in Buenos Aires) he stopped crying and from then on we had the most fun trip!