08 June 2009

Nature vs. Nurture at 2:43 a.m.

What no one ever mentions about breaking a habit is that it usually breaks part of you.
I realized this the other night, at 2:37 a.m., when my daughter was up crying again for the third time in as many hours. My wife and I take turns usually, but this time, we both sat in bed, pretending to sleep and waiting for the other to make the next move. In the end, I woke up with a bundle of infant in my face. I guess, having actually fallen asleep while pretending to fall asleep, that I won the stalemate.
After blessing us with several months of quiet nights, I think my daughter has figured out that if she cries long enough at night, she’ll end up sleeping with Mommy and Daddy in the Nice Bed, with the dog to boot. This is where the “habit breaking” comes in. It’s one thing to quit smoking – it’s another thing to have a habit breaking that breaks your habit in the process. I can deal with nic fits, but listening to your child scream for you in the dead of night is heartbreaking. There’s a reason a baby’s cry is as effective as it is. It, unlike the parents that hear it, has evolved through the course of thousands of years to be as annoying and heart wrenching as possible. It’s brilliantly designed to provoke a response in those who hear it.
With her head now resting comfortably between us in a warm bed, Evelyn fell asleep right away, and didn’t make a peep for the rest of the night. Chalk it up to baby intelligence to figure out that by doing what comes naturally to them that they can make it work out to their advantage. The next night, Evelyn cried again at 1:30 a.m. or so, and Karla turned off the special anti-SIDS mattress (a glorified air hockey table with a sheet on it) that constantly blows cold air on her in an effort to combat the unthinkable. After that, she was quiet for most of the night. Even last night, the second in which the mattress was turned off, she was quiet for the most part.
Nature vs. Nurture. It’s usually an easy choice, except when its 2:43 a.m. and you’ve got to be at work in six hours.

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