If Chuck Norris’ legs are trademarked Law and Order, my baby’s hands would have to be Mischief and Mayhem. Those doughy, dimply, pudgy digits seem innocent enough, but they are actually saboteurs of sleep. Just like in the popular video where the dog’s own hind leg conspires against him to steal his bone, my Little Man’s hands are out to rob him, and in turn us, of precious shut-eye.
At bedtime, we lay him on his back as instructed by experts who all but guarantee death by SIDS to dastardly parents who would dare put a baby on his stomach, and his hands rejoice for this is their preferred position for all manner of torture. As soon as we set our sleepy baby down, those twin evil-doers spring to life, lately coming together in a grip as if hatching a plan. Their signature move is to flail up and over his head to make him feel like he’s falling and startle him awake. More subtly, they busy themselves in irresistible games right in his focus range, doing a tantalizing dance he can’t avoid watching. Or they claw at his face, leaving angry little scratches sure to not only ruin his rest but the modeling career for which we have high hopes. If none of these tactics work, they simply whack him in the forehead.
Sleep doesn’t stand a chance against such attacks, so it surrenders and we are left with a wide-eyed baby whose hands seem to be attempting to give one another a victorious high five. Many nights he ends up on one of our bellies, sprawled like a baby orangutan on its mama, hands gripping our sides. He probably sleeps best like this because those impish fiends at the end of his wrists are too far apart to communicate with each other.
Veteran parents tell me they started laying their second babies on their stomachs much sooner than the first, less fearful and more willing to ignore expert advice in exchange for longer stretches of sleep. I’m almost ready to give it a go. It’s either that or call Chuck Norris in to put Mischief and Mayhem to rest.