At 3 months old, my son had a pretty good streak of sleeping through the night. My wife was happy, I was rested, and all was right with the world.
Then we went to a neighborhood pig roast. At this pig roast were three of our friends with new bundles of joy just like us. Naturally, the conversation between all of the parents led to, “How’s your baby sleeping?” My wife and I were really eager and took the lead. “He’s sleeping really good, actually! About 7 out of the last 10 nights, he’s slept through. It’s been great!” we said with huge smiles on our faces. We capped it with an adoring look to our bundle of sleeping-through-the-night joy and a flirtatious wink at each other with our well-rested eyes. Then we looked at the other parents and said, “How about you?”
That is where it all went wrong.
The rest of the parents gave each other tired looks with their tired eyes and looked not-so-adoringly at their wide-awake bundles of joy. Their babies weren’t sleeping. At all. Ever. We all stood there sharing stories holding our babies while they communicated with each other by cooing and crying. We felt horrible and I offered some really good encouragement, “Well, I’m sure it will happen, every baby is different, guess we’ve been lucky, oooh, are those cookies?”
I left the party feeling horrible, not from the amount of cookies I ate, but the fact that all these parents were struggling and here we were gloating. I wondered what we were doing that worked. I wondered if we could have given them better advice because we were obviously doing something right. I wondered if they would ever look us in the eyes again. Regardless, our baby was sleeping through the night and I have to admit, it was sweet.
That night, our son woke up screaming every couple of hours. The next night was the same. For the next month, he woke up screaming at least twice every night. My wife and I were baffled. What happened?!? Then, we realized… Those babies had a “sit down” with our son. We hadn’t taught him about being his own man and not caving in to peer pressure, yet. How were we supposed to know that while we talked with the sleepy parents, their little goons were strong-arming our baby into submission? I could just hear them, “Hey, kid. That’s a nice Cookie Monster you have there. You must be new around here. Maybe you don’t know how things work with the rest of us. You seem like a good kid. Be smart. Do the right thing. Stop sleeping through the night. Got it? Don’t make us talk to you again. Not about this. We’d hate for something to happen to that nice Cookie Monster. Understand? Good. Welcome to the family, kid.”
All of this happened right under our noses and we were oblivious to it. Now with the lack of sleep, we were just like those other poor parents not getting a break through the night. As he cried, every, single, night, we nudged each other tiredly and with our tired eyes urged the other one to get up with him using the excuse, “I’M TIRED!”
Those babies looked so cute, so innocent, so incapable of strong-arming our precious baby into conforming to their evil Newborn Baby Mafia. Whatever it was that they said, our innocent son got the message. He’s not sleeping. The Newborn Baby Mafia made my son an offer he couldn’t refuse.
When it comes to sleep habits, never speak first in the presence of other parents. Let them go first, feel out the crowd, lie if you have to and protect your baby from the Newborn Baby Mafia. My child wants to feel safe and happy, and my wife, well, she likes to sleep. As the man of the house, it’s my duty to keep their best interests and happiness in mind and know when to be quiet. For the safety of my family, this is not a mistake I will make again. The last thing I want is to wake up to my baby screaming from his crib in a pool of milk with Cookie Monster’s head under his blankie.
This post was originally posted on the blog, Just a Dad 247, where you can read more about Pat’s misadventures as a stay-at-home dad.