Thursday, June 26, 2014
A few days after Eleanor was born, my kind neighbor (who has five children herself) brought over dinner. Her baby had grown out of their swing and did we need a swing? I thought for a moment - I've never actually owned a swing although I was loaned one for Kathleen and Sophia but hadn't used them that much - and then accepted her offer. After all, it would be nice to have one if I needed it. Then I could pass it on when we leave in November.
Eleanor is in that swing right now, and has been in it for the past hour. This morning she took a four hour nap in it. Yesterday morning she slept for six hours in the swing. In fact, she hasn't slept anywhere but the swing for the last two weeks. At night she is generous enough to sleep in her crib, but during the day, her swing is what keeps her happy and me sane.
I never thought that I would get so desperate to get my baby to sleep that I would use a swing for every single nap. Babies ought to sleep in their crib, after all. I don't want to get anyone into bad habits and D batteries are really expensive. Maybe if I really needed some help I might use a swing every now and then, but every single nap seems a bit excessive.
But after five weeks of trying everything imaginable to get her to nap - rocking, holding, nursing, using a pacifier, using my finger, nursing her on the bed, letting her cry it out, carrying her in the sling, carrying her in the Baby Bjorn, and begging her - I was so relieved to find something that worked. I didn't care if it was a swing. I didn't care about good sleep hygiene, I didn't even care about how much batteries cost. I was just happy that I could get her to sleep every single time she was tired. Did you know that babies won't naturally go to sleep when they're tired? Instead they'll scream and cry. It really makes no sense at all.
I've tried to wean her off the swing several times, but after I spent four hours Friday night trying to get her to go down after an unsuccessful attempt to let her cry herself to sleep (you'd think that they'd finally get so exhausted that they would give up, but they don't. Or at least Eleanor doesn't), I made a decision. "Don't ever let me attempt to have Eleanor to cry herself to sleep. Ever again. Well, at least until she's three months old." Brandon looked at me, eyebrows raised. "Ever," I repeated.
And so, the swing it is.
But there's only one problem. In a week and a half, Brandon's family is gathering for the first family reunion since I was pregnant with Kathleen. I've been worrying about taking a two month-old baby to a week of partying, swimming, and staying up late since I found out that I was pregnant with Eleanor. I figured that two months would be enough time for the baby to settle down - after all, the other four had by that point (at least I think they did). But Eleanor has had ample time to prove that she isn't her four older siblings.
I resigned myself to a week of sitting on a couch holding baby. At least she would sleep in my arms. Then we went to dinner at a friend's house Saturday afternoon. And church the next day. In that twenty-four hour period I spent eight hours trying to keep Eleanor asleep for more than twenty minutes. Brandon and I like to joke that I'm getting baby elbow from having her crooked in my left arm constantly. A week long family reunion was starting to look like not just inconvenient (there's not much you can do when you're stuck with a baby that is incapable of being awake for more than thirty minutes before she starts coming unglued) but downright miserable. What was I going to do for a week without the essential baby swing?
Brandon and I were cooking dinner Sunday evening (after Eleanor was safely tucked away into her rocking paradise) when I had a revelation. I turned to him, "what if we just bought a swing and had it shipped to your parents' house?" He stopped chopping onions. "Swing? What? Weren't we just talking about making children sit still in Primary"
"A baby swing. You know, so we could actually get Eleanor to sleep. Then we could just leave it at your parents' house or give it to your sister or throw it out the car window on the way the the airport. After this weekend, I don't care how much a baby swing costs. It's worth every penny just to get her to sleep."
He thought while carefully chopping, making sure to avoid his fingers. I waited for his answer, peeling garlic. I'm not a careless spender; I hate buying anything that I can't justify hauling across the world and back. The last time I sold something Brandon and I owned was when we joined State and got rid of the craigslist furniture that we had picked up after graduating from college. It almost broke my heart to sell our consumables when we left Baku. I even waited two months to watch season four of Downton Abbey because I could check it out at the local library instead of just buying it on iTunes.
And if I'm bad, Brandon is about a hundred times worse. All he brought her our marriage was some well-used clothes, a few books, and the movie Babe - on VHS. We've never owned a TV, much less a VCR, so that had to go.
But at this point I didn't care. Eight hours of rocking, bouncing, holding, and jiggling ten pounds of baby will really start to put money into perspective.
Finally, he looked at me. I held my breath, marshaling my arguments. After all, I was the one who would be glued to the couch, giving myself permanent elbow damage. He sighed, and put the knife down, shrugging his shoulders. "Buy it. Today. I don't care how much it costs."
So, if you're living in southwestern Missouri, send me an email. I have a barely-used swing you can have.