Land of the midnight son

Because it’s so close to the North Pole and therefore can get upwards of 20 hours of sunshine on a summer’s day, Alaska is often called the land of the midnight sun. Lately, we’ve discovered that our home is not so dissimilar to the far-northern tundra. Normally our home is rather Arctic anyway, as Chris likes to keep the thermostat set not a single degree above “glacial.” But with the addition of James, the similarities have, shall we say, snowballed.

Because of our early bird’s fragile immune system, we are isolated from the rest of society right now. But mostly, our house resembles Alaska because it is the land of the midnight son. You see, for multiple reasons, James has become nocturnal of late. Much like summertime up north, when people cannot tell whether it’s day or night, our wee son has thrown my sleep schedule into utter chaos. After a day of on-again, off-again napping and snacking, James rises at 11 p.m. and, like an itty-bitty vampire, proceeds to feast voraciously until dawn, when he finally beds down for his “long” three-hour sleep.

It wasn’t always so. When we brought him home from the hospital, he ate every three hours like clockwork and spent the rest of the time snoozing. He was so sleepy, in fact, that for the first few weeks I set an alarm to wake me in case he slept through a feeding (it only went off once). Now, I am lucky if he goes 30 minutes between nighttime feedings. During the day, I set my PVR to record about six hours of television. I begin watching my recorded shows during James’ snacktimes after Maddi is in bed and by morning, I have usually exhausted most of my video.

The reasons for James’ sleep issues are as follows: First and foremost, he has been on a massive growth spurt this week. I have no idea what he weighs now (I’m guessing 9 pounds at the very least) or how long he is (I’d say 21 inches) but I do know this: Last week, I was buttoning him into his one-pieces — the kind with two sets of snaps to extend the amount of time a baby can wear them — and even using the top set of snaps they were a bit saggy; this week, his undershirts are pulled tight to bursting, even using the lower snaps. Clearly all that milk has gone to good use!

But the other reason James is nocturnal is clearly my fault. Over Christmas, we did a lot of driving and therefore James did a lot of day sleeping. Which means he did a lot of night waking. After the holidays, rather than turning his schedule around by keeping him awake all day, I was so exhausted that I foolishly followed the old adage, “Sleep when the baby sleeps.” Which means I slept until 10 and then took a big afternoon nap with the kids instead of persistently torturing James awake as I so clearly should have been doing. (Not that I don’t appreciate Chris’ watching Maddi every morning during my attempts to get some sleep. I am sure that is the only reason I am sane and lucid!) Rather than turning around, James seemed to sleep even more during the day — and less at night — until yesterday he was very nearly on an opposite schedule.

Rather than move to China, where James would be sleeping perfectly through the night, Chris and I have adopted a double-pronged plan to get our “midnight son” rising and shining at a more acceptable hour. Rather than my turning on the overhead light in James’ room every time our boy wakes up at some unholy hour, Chris purchased a $10 desk lamp to clip onto the side of the bed. It provides just enough light for me to feed and change James, but not enough for our little boy to be stimulated by his surroundings. Additionally, I am (temporarily) giving up naps so that I can keep James awake and alert during the daylight hours. He will enjoy short periods of sleep, but anything longer than 90 minutes or so, and he will suddenly find himself enjoying a diaper change, bath or tummy time session. It’s a little cruel, but there are a daddy and a little girl in this house who miss their wife and mommy. It’s time for James to live in the same time zone as the rest of the family.

With any luck, by next week’s blog, we will no longer be living in the land of the midnight son.

And without further ado, here is James’ 5-week pic, featuring our fast-growing little boy’s multiple chins and titled “Jabba no botha”:

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