Like Wrestling an Octopus

Have you ever tried to swaddle a wiggly baby in the middle of the night, in the dark, when you’re exhausted? It’s quite an adventure!

Chickadee still loves to be swaddled at night. She actually sighs in relief when I wrap the blanket around her at the end of the day. I think this is a great thing. Turkey and Bunny were never into swaddling, but Moose and Ladybug both liked it, (although maybe not this long), and it helped all three of them relax and sleep better, and I’m all for that. I’ve gotten special “swaddle blankies” for them, that have velcro fasteners, which are very helpful in keeping the swaddle intact, even when the baby gets bigger and more active in his or her sleep.

Despite being straightjacketed, though, Chickadee manages to work an arm (or two!) out in her sleep most nights. It starts innocently…a single hand sneaks out, usually in a desperate attempt at thumb-sucking. It’s usually followed, in frustration, by the second hand.

At that point, it’s easy for a whole arm to work its way out.

And, the second one often follows.

I usually discover this when she wants to nurse at about two in the morning. And so begins the wrestling match!

First, I try to open the swaddle as quietly as possible. But velcro is not a quiet material, especially in the middle of the night when the house is silent. So, hopefully I don’t startle Chickadee awake, but sometimes I do. In that case, lots of shushing ensues.

Then things get tricky. Once the blanket is open, I try to sneak the escaping limb back in a quickly as possible, so I can get the blanket re-wrapped. This doesn’t always work, however. Sometimes, as I’m trying to sneak the left arm in, the right arm pops out. Sometimes the left arm escapes before I can get the velcro closed back up. And sometimes (and this is really fun!), Chickadee throws both arms over her head when I open the blanket, and then I have to try to get them both back in at the same time, without really waking her.

The fun doesn’t end there, though. Because some nights, when she’s particularly restless, the legs pop out when I’m trying to get her re-swaddled,too!

You might wonder why I go to all of this trouble in the middle of the night. The short answer is: because Chickadee isn’t ready to sleep without it. Even though she’s the one undoing the swaddle every night, she’s not doing it intentionally, and she doesn’t want to sleep unswaddled. So, if I don’t re-wrap her, she’ll just grow more and more restless, until she fully wakes up, and then not only do I have to wrap her back up, I also have to convince her to go back to bed.

Yep, parenting is often like wrestling with an octopus. No one tells you about these middle-of-the-night gymnastics, but exhaustion aside, it’s actually one of the more entertaining parts of parenting a baby!

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