Last Friday was the first time I got to babysit my three and a half month old nephew, Jack! I arrived, bearing the gift of a ceramic pumpkin in honor of my nephew’s first fall. Right when I got there my nephew was waking up from a nap and when he saw me smiling at him, he smiled this sleepy, “I’m glad to see you,” with a bit of wonder in there kind of smile. He waked up happy, ready to wiggle out of his cocoon of blankets, and he even kicked some of them off.My sister-in-law, Erin, and I talked, hung out with Jack until my brother got home.
Jack fell asleep in my brother’s arms, then Aaron carefully placed his son in a swinging bed to sleep, and then he and Erin went out to eat and shop. Jack just slept a little while after his parents left. When he woke up, he smiled his sleepy smile at me again, then we played a little, drank some milk, changed a diaper, and then he started getting sleepy again. As I rocked him in my arms, his eyes got heavy as he drank more of his milk, and he seemed almost asleep, so I tried taking the bottle out of his mouth, but that woke him up. So we drank more milk, he cried, so I tried checking his diaper again, we took photos together. He was still sleepy, so then he started falling asleep again. I was putting him in his bed, but then his eyes flew open again. He stayed in his bed, wide awake for a few minutes.
I was determined to have Jack be asleep when his parents came home! So I picked him up again, and rocked him some more. Sang quiet versions of “Away in a Manger” and “Silent Night” to him, and gave him more milk, and wrapped him up like a papoose. Several times while he was drinking his milk, he would stop sucking and just “talk” in this gentle, innocent, expressive baby cooing. He already has a beautiful voice. I let him fall asleep with the bottle in his mouth, and he really fell into a deep sleep; I made sure of that before I put him in his bed. He stayed asleep! It took 2 1/2 hours, but he made the transition from awake to asleep. I learned more how babies function and how much work it is; Jack is worth every second!
The transition between wakefulness and being asleep is a gradual, unplanned transition. You don’t exactly know when it will come. You hope it will come quickly. The restorative power of sleep is wonderful. Each time Jack woke up he smiled up at the smiling adults looking down at him. Jack has the best wake-up smile I’ve ever seen.