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New daddy diary

Let sleeping babies lie

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New daddy diary, October 25, 2006

Every morning my 9-month-old daughter wakes up sweet and bright-eyed, as if the sun has a smiley face on it and the breeze is playing Ranz des Vaches through an open window. I've always been a grump before coffee, but her morning mirth has softened me. She smiles, I smile. But these perfect mornings come at a price: this little girl o' mine just won't fall asleep unless it's metabolically mandated.

I'm not so sure "to sleep like a baby" deserves to be cliché. I slept more as a teenager than she sleeps now. She does fine at night, sleeping about 10 hours with two or three brief awakenings. But daytime naps are a battle between her will and her hypothalamus. When she gets tired and droopy she shakes her head like she's trying to get the blanket of sleep off it. She reaches for anything that might hold her attention in service of consciousness. It's as if she doesn't want to miss anything. As a result, she's more likely to stay awake for 12 hours than she is to stay asleep for six.

She's also a light sleeper --- a trait from her mom --- which means even if she does go down, we have to tiptoe about, navigating around known creaky floorboards. If we so much as step on a cornflake near the nap site, her head pops up to see what's going on. Then we repeat: pick her up, rock her gently, maybe hum "Twinkle Twinkle" until her exhausted head falls again on a shoulder.

This isn't something that we let get to us (beyond the moment, anyway). Yeah, we have the bags under the eyes and our circadian rhythms are missing a few beats, but it's an awfully small price to pay.

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