Sunday, March 7, 2010

Napping Trouble

So, I've been on the bike less lately, and napping is the reason. Apparently, around three months is when babies start sorting out their sleep rhythms, and it became obvious fairly quickly that protecting Jasper's nap times was a crucial part of having easy bed times and a generally un-cranky child.

Two weeks ago, I strapped Jasper into the bike and took off for yoga like I do every week. He was just off a nap and so cheerful and chatty on the ride. He was pretty happy through yoga, but ready for his next nap by the time we were done. No problem, I thought. I need to get home, and he always sleeps on the bike. So I took off for home, but when I got to my neighborhood he was still awake, and still cranky. I did a few extra laps of the rose garden. No dice. Still cranky. I turned up a big hill and climbed it, just to go somewhere. A stranger pulled in behind me and I asked him if the kiddo was sleeping yet.

Kindly stranger: Nope. Eyes wide open.

Me: Damn. I'm trying to get him a nap.

Kindly stranger: Oh. What's his name?

Me: Jasper.

Kindly stranger: What's your favorite band, Jasper?

Me: He's a big Pink Martini fan.

Kindly stranger: Hm. [long pause] [singing] When I was just a little girl/ I asked my mother/ what will I be?/ Will I be pretty/ Will I be rich/ Here's what she said to me...

[I laugh]

Kindly stranger: A yawn! Eyes closing... nope, open again... [singing] Que sera, sera/ Whatever will be, will be/ The future's not ours to see/ Que sera, sera. [spoken] It's not working.

Me: Thanks for trying!

Kindly stranger: Any time! And I wanted to tell you, nice ride!

We were at the top of the hill. I was a bit winded, and beginning to feel the lunch I hadn't eaten. I wooshed down the hill. Baby still awake. We went to a park. I nursed. We played. I rocked him. He fussed. I put him back on the bike and rode home. I put on the baby wrap and put him in it. He immediately fell asleep without a peep. Oh.

So, for the rest of that week, and most of the next, we stayed off the bike and returned to walking everywhere. He naps well while I walk, and the naps are too crucial to his general mood to risk skipping.

But on Friday he needed to go to the doctor for a vaccination, and I needed to mail a package. So we hopped on the bike. I gave the trip an hour for five miles, because shit happens and I didn't want to be late for our 15-minute "vaccination only" slot. I hopped on the Springwater trail and apparently flew southward, because by the time I locked up and checked the time, only 20 minutes had passed. As I turned off the trail, a passing roadie had slowed to tell me that my passenger was wide awake. But by the time I pulled up to the doctor's, he was fast asleep. And it was nap time, so that was good. But I had 40 minutes to kill before the appointment, and man, did I not want to wake this baby by moving him.

My next decision? Not my greatest parenting moment so far. Let's blame the cloudy judgment on sleep deprivation. But I decided that I should fill the time by mailing my package at the UPS store that was (I thought) right across the street. And I decided that I was going to leave the bike locked, and the baby in it, while I did so.

But I couldn't just leave him on the curb. That would be pretty clearly negligent. Instead, I moved the bike (carefully, slowly) half a block to the staple in front of Bike Commuter. Then, I stuck my head in and asked Eric, the shop owner and mechanic, if he could keep an eye on my kiddo while I walked across the street to mail a package.

Eric: Do you want a loaner bike to get there?

Me: Isn't it just across the street?

Eric: Nope. It's on Tacoma, two blocks up and a block east.

Me: Oh. Then yes, a loaner would be great.

He brought me a bike. I kissed the kiddo and hopped on, enjoying the zippiness of a bike that didn't weigh one hundred pounds. It was a minute, maybe, to get to the store. Where I got the trainee. Who took five minutes to process the mailing of an already-addressed priority mail shipment.

As the minutes crept by, images of fear, panic, and doom crept into my head. What if the baby started crying and Eric had stepped away? My poor miserable baby! Alone and abandoned! And what if someone called the cops? Hell, what if Eric decided that near-stranger cyclists shouldn't be trusting him with their babies and he called the cops? To be honest, I couldn't conjure an image of anything harmful happening to Jasper: worst case, he wakes up, inconveniences Eric by making him pick him up, refuses to be soothed, and I come back to a pissed-off mechanic and a hysterical baby. But Eric's a dad, has little kids, and knows how to take care of babies. So even that scenario only ended in tears, not pain and suffering. Nonetheless, the five minutes in the UPS store made me utterly nuts, and my heart was racing when I got back to the bike shop.

Where Jasper was still napping.

And Eric was standing nearby.

And everything was fine.

And I was very grateful, and Eric went back to his wrenching, and the sun shone, and the birds sang. But I probably won't do that again.

I slipped Jaz out of the bike and into his wrap, where he woke up with tears and general baby despair. I got him settled down, went to the doctor, got the shot, nursed our way through more baby despair, said goodbye and more thanks to Eric, and zipped off for home.

And Jasper slept most of the way.

So we seem to have gotten over whatever caused the bike nap strike, and I look forward to going back to riding from here to there. But I'm still not sure what to do when he falls asleep on a 20-minute ride, and what he needs is a 60-minute nap. Wake him? Leave him? Keep riding? Sit on the sidewalk until he wakes? Slip him into the wrap and hope he falls back asleep? Practically, I'm sure we'll mostly do that last one, because days must be gotten on with. But I wish there were better options.


Heather said...

You could always get a baby monitor and leave one in the Yuba with him. Then you could park him out back like the Danes do, without that naggardly inner mom voice plaguing your hard-earned moments of freedom.

Damian said...

One of my favorite parenting moments on the trip was our Czech couchsurfing host, a middle school teacher, instructing his 4- and 6-year-olds to wheel their baby brother from place to place, otherwise unattended. Like when we finally left, the three of them led us out to the bus stop, and then wheeled off. They also rode the bus themselves, went for groceries, etc. Slightly smaller community, but still impressively trusting.

Jim said...

Ah the memories. In our pre Yuba days we hauled the kids in a 2 wheel kid bike trailer and they nearly always fell asleep. I would unhook the trailer and lift/pull them into the house and park them snoring in the lounge. After a while they would wake up because of the quiet and lake of bouncing.
I would also strap a thin lightweight fold up buggy to the back of the bike that way you are mobile when you get to your destination and chain up. I am very "anti carry baby" every where. Just say no...Lots of moms become portaslaves this way and ALL of my young mother friends now have back problems... my back is fine ! Carry when you want to and not all the time is my motto.
Great post !

keo8128 said...

I was a fussy napper as well, but fell asleep most easily in a car (to be fair, my parents never tried a bike). They often left me in the garage after going for a ride around the neighborhood. :) Can you get up into the alley and the garage without waking him?

Emma J said...

I remember this - the tyranny of the nap! and the feeding! and the next nap! A friend has lived in Germany for several years and says that there parents park their strollers with sleeping baby outside shops all the time.

I have to tell you, one of my non-cycling friends was poking around my sidebar and got reading your blog and said she was fascinated and incredibly impressed by your dedication to traveling fuel-free. Cheers!

shetha said...

Is it weird to say that from this post I can tell who your doc is? :-) She's ours, too. And our neighbor, too. So, it makes sense, really. The mama-brain thing becomes less irrational when the hormones sort out. Which isn't for a while... so just remember to *breathe* ;-)

She Rides a Bike said...

Not a parent but I enjoyed this post. It's nice to read about kindly strangers and helpful friends. I'm sure if I was in your shoes I would have the same worries about whether or not my child was having a crying fit in my absense.