I like to think that having gone through this whole parenting-a-baby-business twice now, I’m a little more savvy to what’s going on an infant’s ever-growing, but ultimately still Chiclet-sized brain. I know that babies love measuring cups and remote controls. I know that sometimes babies grind their teeth and that’s totally normal, even if it makes you want to toss them in the recycling bin. I know that no matter how gross a substance is, chances are it’ll come clean in the washing machine. And I know that when a baby goes through a stage of shaking their head back and forth, sometimes it’s just because they’re basically pint-sized stoners and they just like to trip out on what that does to their vision; a person need not necessarily work themselves into a full panic by researching stimming symptoms.

I also know the difference between a hungry cry, and woeful cry, and an angry cry. But I don’t for the life of me have any idea what to do when a baby refuses to sleep and issues forth a nonstop auditory assault for something like six solid hours in the middle of the night.

I comforted him, I fed him, I picked him up and rocked him, I brought him out to watch Fringe (oh stop, we covered his eyes during the scary parts). He would yawn and rub his eyes and look for all the world like he was purely exhausted and we’d put him back to bed and he’d scream. Angrily. He wasn’t in pain, he wasn’t feverish, he didn’t seem sick . . . he was just pissed off.

He’d fall into a light doze in the rocking chair but I can’t sleep in a goddamned rocking chair, not only is it uncomfortable but I’m pretty sure a 20-lb baby would drop from my arms like a stone the instant I nodded off. He didn’t like our bed. He didn’t want his crib, or his bouncy seat. It went on for HOURS. Way past the point where I thought a baby would simply pass out from the sheer exhaustion of being such an asshole for so long.

I don’t mean to bring up a sore subject but round about 3 AM I was feeling very nose-punchy about people who say they Never Ever Let Their Children Cry. Really? WELL THEN YOU HAVE NOT MET THIS BABY. Because there was no stopping the discontent, except for the rocking chair thing, and maybe some saintly motherfuckers would have stayed in that chair until the break of dawn but I’m sorry but I am NOT A ROBOT.

Finally, and I am not proud of this, I drugged him. It was 4 AM and I was cross-eyed with flayed nerves and tiredness and I didn’t even measure the Benadryl, I just glugged a little of what I hoped was a non-lethal amount into the nipple of his bottle and gave it to him. (I am also not proud of the fact that when I told JB my plans, and he said “Children’s Benadryl, right?” in a worried tone, I snapped, “NO I AM GOING TO CRUSH UP SOME ADULT DOSES AND ADMINISTER THEM RECTALLY.”)

After that, glorious silence. This morning, a totally non-pissed-off, dopey-grinning baby. WTF.

Was there anything I could have done to make the evening less of a horrorshow? What the hell am I going to do tonight if the same thing happens again? Am I ever going to feel like I really know what I’m doing, or is winging it just the name of the freaking game? I HAVE NO IDEA.

PS: Here are some amusing “school” pictures of Dylan, taken at daycare. I always find these funny, because they never fail to make a normally-cute kid look like . . . well, kind of a goober.



Note that Riley flat-out refused to participate, possibly remembering this horrific incident from a year ago.



127 Responses to “Making it up as I go”

  1. leah on November 19th, 2008 11:07 pm

    it’s my life ur writing about right? Cuz I swear every damn night until I finally – FINALLY – decided to fuck it- and let my baby cry it out… even had my hubby pick up some earplugs…
    Scince this is my second baby- well she’s 16months- I *THOUGHT* that I basically knew how to parent… been there, done that mentality- hell no.. no one told me that the shit that worked with my first- was like poking a attacking zombie with a fucking waffle bat…aint gonna work worth shit…
    lol… so yeah after I swear no fucking sleep for the last 5 months, and my hubby complaining cuz he’s forgotten what its like to sleep in a bed with his wife.. I know- all I got out of that was – ur bitching cuz u get to sleep? I finally gave up and did the whole feberberizing thingie- the first night she screamed 1 1/2 hrs, then slept… Really since then when she does get up – she only cries a couple of mins before she’s back to sleep… it makes me kick myself- I can’t believe I didn’t do it, and stick with it earlier…

  2. Jenny on November 19th, 2008 11:24 pm

    Matthew did this just the other night, and he NEVER does that. I was worried, then I was anxious, then I was pure-T grouchy, then I was ready to howl back at him and see if he liked it. I finally stripped him, changed his pjs and his bed, fed him a bottle, gave him Tylenol, and re-did his bedtime routine. At 2 am. He slept. As you say, WTF.

  3. Jennifer on November 19th, 2008 11:46 pm

    That picture of Riley never fails to make me giggle like a maniac. Poor little guy. I hope he got an ice cream or a big hug after that picture was taken. That glassy-eyed turtle sure didn’t help matters much. Smug bastard.

  4. Lesley on November 20th, 2008 12:59 am

    What you ended up doing with the benadryl seemed the right thing. Perhaps after several days of vomiting and feeling like crap and sleeping fitfully he was exhausted but still unable to sleep deeply. His little muscles may have been aching or maybe he had the full body version of restless leg syndrome.

    The photos are priceless and he is a little gooberish but in a darling way of course. Love the bottom teef.

  5. Nicole on November 20th, 2008 1:18 am

    I once had to take a 9 hour flight with the baby in the middle of teething and I begged the pharmacy guy to give me something to knock my kid out. He refused- god, some people and their morals. Instead he sold me about four different kinds of homeopathic medicine, which ended up actually working ok. When Ella was little, I always had a bottle of Quietude on hand- homeopathic baby sleep syrup, and I did not hesitate to use it. It didn’t put her to sleep, but it seemed to keep her drowsy enough that she wouldn’t wake up in the night. She tended to get really difficult at night if her daytime sleep schedule was interrupted, which is maybe Dylan’s problem as well. In any case, we did LOTS of CIO, which our neighbors didn’t so much appreciate, but I become suicidal and then homicidal after two or three nights without sleep; if I had touched the baby, I fear I would have had no choice but to strangle her.

  6. Katy on November 20th, 2008 1:22 am

    Ohhhh I love the photos! Even if Mr No Sleep looks a bit like he’s drunkenly saying “Wha?!” in the second one.

    I had a night similar to this last night and my darling boy is 2 years old. After a daugher who slept through from 10 weeks I just don’t have a fucking clue what my son’s problem is. Ear infection? Teeth? Too hot? Too cold? Someone poking him with a big stick? A bad case of Turd-itis? Unfortunately I can’t just Let Him Cry because it will wake up the other one. Plus letting my kids cry makes me feel like all the skin on my body is being sandpapered off.

    I have administered drugs on more than one occasion after getting up once or 5 or 10 times. Nice to know someone else does it!

  7. tash on November 20th, 2008 7:00 am

    Teething perhaps? Seems likely if the Benadryl helped…Strange in a WTF kind of way that it always gets worse at night, whether it’s teething, fever, flu – always at night when WE NEED SLEEP!

    Good luck. Hope it gets better soon!!

  8. beth on November 20th, 2008 7:00 am

    I think it’s impressive you waited until 4am to dose him!
    The other thing that I find helps a lot is a warm bath. I don’t know what it is about it, but it always helps!

  9. Karol on November 20th, 2008 8:06 am

    I’ve given my 14-month-old Motrin or Tylenol when he displays symptoms that he’s uncomfortable. That seems to do the trick…even though, at the time, I have no idea what the heck is wrong with him. Then, a day or so later, something will emerge as the cause…teething or a cold. It isn’t like you drugged your little one for no reason. It was obvious that something was wrong.

  10. Half Assed Kitchen on November 20th, 2008 8:18 am

    Was it gas? I dunno. But when my two were babies, there was occasionally the rogue horrific night when I thought I could. not. take. anymore. They both went through a phase around the age of one when they woke up in the night and stayed awake for three or so hours. Loved that. I felt that it had to do with them learning to crawl. Some weird developmental blip.

  11. jenn on November 20th, 2008 8:33 am

    I routinely give either tylenol or motrin (actually target’s generic versions) at the very first sign of fussiness… usually there’s a tooth coming! If that doesn’t help, sometimes I do give a little benadryl. Also a tip I got from our pediatrician… liquid benadryl has a topical anesthetic in it. You can rub it on the baby’s gums if he’s teething, and it actually does numb them a little bit. Good luck, hope tonight’s better!

  12. Grace on November 20th, 2008 9:26 am

    My cousin is a NICU nurse and swears to me that they give the premies Benadryl all the time to sooth them and help them sleep. She says it’s the least of all the medicines and nothing is better for a baby than a good nights sleep. They also use a drug made out of pot to stimulate their appetites, so there’s that.

  13. Dorie on November 20th, 2008 9:39 am

    You are so brave for admitting this. But I cannot believe that no one thinks you were wrong to do so.

  14. Katie on November 20th, 2008 11:13 am

    I TOTALLY don’t think it is wrong to dose a crying baby after that long. Babies can’t tell us they have a headache/earache or whatever might be keeping them up. If there seems no other reason then I assume they don’t feel good, and this is the only way they can tell us. So I think you did the right thing. (I would have done is sooner probably!)

  15. Nicki on November 20th, 2008 11:17 am

    Pufferfish goes through stages like that where for several days (Or weeks!!!) she gets some sort of weird Baby Insomia! Benadryl actually sounds like a good idea. Don’t feel too bad… one of my little sis had ADHD and when she was very small her pediatrician told her mother to give her a little Benadryl at night to help her calm down. If it works, it works, right? And if he WAS in some sort of pain… like from an ear infection, like someone mentioned… then the Benadryl would help with that! :)

  16. Beth on November 20th, 2008 1:35 pm

    Wow…I, too, am impressed that no one has lambasted you for the Benadryl. And I’d certainly be the last to do it…my daughter went through what felt like months of sleep problems. I think there was a two week period where I did the tylenol thing every. single. night. And did NOT feel guilty about it. She is a better sleeper now (at almost 3), but just last month she woke up complaining of a tummyache. This happens frequently, and usually means, “maybe I’ll get some sympathy and get to come sleep with you, mom?”. I gave her some leftover Hyland’s Teething Tablets, because she requested “mecidine.” Went to sleep, and didn’t hear from her til morning. Go placebo effect!

  17. telegirl on November 20th, 2008 1:57 pm

    Motrin is my drug-o-choice. Hope you all get some sleep soon. :o(

  18. telegirl on November 20th, 2008 1:59 pm

    Oh, and next time, for kicks? Put Dylan in a shirt/tie combo for the school pix. I agree… totally a CEO picture!

  19. Anonymous on November 20th, 2008 3:45 pm

    he — and you — obviously got good from the Benedryl–
    give it to him in his pre-bedtime bottle ,or in the bottle you give him the first time he wakes up ,then nobody is still up at three in the morning…
    my pediatrician was the one who suggested this to me — she said there is no harm in a little Benadryl if it keeps everybody sane,and the frettfulness could be due to allergy related miserableness,so the Benadryl would help–
    my kids are all in their 20’s and 30’s now–happy and healthy–so the Benadryl did no harm …

  20. wm on November 20th, 2008 3:58 pm

    sorry to hear about your rough night. Do you think he might be having some teething pain (and thus, the drug had its effects)? I’ve never seen baby or toddler school pics before. Goobery, but still cute!

  21. Crystal D on November 20th, 2008 7:37 pm

    I know others have said it, but I am guessing he is getting a tooth. I am quick to administer Tylenol or Motrin all around the teething season because how are you supposed to know when these suckers are hurting. They can’t fricken tell you any other way then by SCREAMING for hours.
    After my lesson with my first two girls I definitely have teething on the brain. My 2 month old had a fussy day the other day and that night I had a dream she opened her mouth and she had 4 teeth. LOL

  22. Amy on November 20th, 2008 8:41 pm

    My kids’ Mothers Day Out pictures had the exact same backgrounds.

    And no, I have no idea what to tell you about the screaming thing. How’s the sleep transitioning going with getting him to sleep in the crib? We’re attempting it right now (to get ours to sleep without being swaddled like a 2-week-old) and it might just drive me off a cliff.

  23. camille on November 21st, 2008 6:50 pm

    I peed my pants (damn you childbirth), at the final picture.

    My friend *always* buys the santa/easter bunny shots of her kids, no matter how awful or tearful, because they are much more fun years later. So glad you did too.

  24. lucidkim on November 21st, 2008 9:10 pm

    My first daughter hated to sleep – and there was no letting her cry it out – because she would never stop…I once let her cry for an hour once and she was in no way even winding down when I caved. I don’t think I slept for an entire year. She did have ear infections a lot – and I didn’t realize at the time that might have been why she cried so much. Tylenol was our friend (and oddly enough benedryl hyped her up so that was definitely: out).

    He liked his swing – and he was sitting up to sleep in that. Even without a diagnosed ear infection there might be something that makes him hurt when laying flat??


  25. Sarah on November 24th, 2008 10:05 am

    I just wanted to chime in and also suggest picking up “Healthy Sleep Habits for Happy Children”. My first daughter was one of the worst sleepers ever. Like you with the swing the only way she would sleep was if I held her and rocked. It would take 1-2 hours of rocking to put her down at night and when she woke up (and she did at least 3 times a night) it would usually take 45 minutes or more rocking to get her back to sleep. When she was about 8 months I could stand it no longer and bought that book. The first night was hell and she screamed for over 3 hours, second night she cried for about an hour, third night she fussed for about 15 minutes and after that she was able to put herself to sleep within 15 minutes, she was sleeping for longer stretches and when she woke up it only took a few minutes of Shhhh’ing and rubbing her back before she went back to sleep. I also recommend ear plugs.

  26. bNhUTXEe on December 2nd, 2008 3:22 am


  27. YVijhalYQtE on December 2nd, 2008 6:06 am


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