When it comes to babies, sleep is the thing. It’s usually the first question anyone asks when they learn you have a newborn or infant – ‘how is he sleeping??’ And I totally get it, because I am always curious about how other babies sleep too.
Last month we spent three weeks in England, a trip that Georgie loves and is very accustomed to. She is a pro with jet lag and adjusts quickly to UK time, and has never had an issue sleeping in a new crib, a new room etc. And overall, Rex did such a great job too. He is truly the chillest baby ever. He just goes with the flow and is relaxed and happy to be a part of it all.
After being there for a few nights, we left my sister-in-law’s house in Surrey and drove down to Devon – a three hour drive – to stay with my father-in-law. We base Rex’s sleep schedule on his awake time, so the plan was to get the car packed up when he woke up from his first morning nap, then I would nurse him just before we planned to leave so he would fall asleep in the car. Everything ended up taking a little longer than we anticipated (travel with kids basically means you have one million items to cart with you everywhere you go) and Rex fell asleep while I was nursing him, sending me into a mild panic. What if he wakes up as soon as we put him in the car and then doesn’t sleep the whole drive??? Basically, my plan got altered with and I freaked out. It’s what I tend to do, but it’s completely nuts, especially because sometimes babies don’t go along with the plan you’ve laid out, so you need to adjust. (Clearly I am still learning.)
So we got into the car and got moving, and Rex was quiet and looking around, and then about 30 minutes in he started to cry. Since he is such a good baby and rarely cries ever (so so lucky) when he does, my whole body tenses up and I immediately want to make things better. Tom, sensing my panic, said ‘it’s ok, he’s going to be fine’ and I started making shushing noises, which I had totally forgotten always worked like a charm for Georgie during car rides. And then I did something else that I am convinced is what sent him into an hours long sleep: I took three long, deep breaths and felt my whole body relax. They say babies are sponges and since I’m such a literal, black-and-white person who has trouble believing things that aren’t tangible, it’s always been a hard theory for me to truly grasp onto. But it’s the truth. So when Rex got a little bit upset, and I tensed up and panicked, he did too. And then, a few minutes after I took those deep breaths and truly relaxed, he did too.
Now, every time I put him down for a nap or nighttime sleep, my last step before kissing his head and putting him in his crib is to take one really long, really deep breath while I’m holding him. I make sure I feel it all the way down to the bottom of my legs, and then I put him down. It may sound a little strange, but I swear it works!