I realized last night that I navigate a set of rules as complex and exacting as the tax code.
They are the rules to get Lucy to sleep.
I'm not nearly as ritualistic about it as I used to be, but I am, well, just a tad legalistic. For example
1) I must wait approximately 4 hours after her last nap before putting her to sleep.
2) I must wait approximately 12 hours after she woke up in the morning before putting her to sleep.
Rules 1 and 2 mean that bedtime is as precisely timed as, say, the Space Shuttle launch. (5...4...3...2..1... bedtime!) It has been a little tricky lately, because she sometimes doesn't get the memo about when her bedtime is, and takes a third nap at 6:30, when we put her down. Do the math people. This means a late bedtime for Lucy. And no Adult Time for mom and dad. Boooooo.
3) I must nurse until her breathing slows and the gulping stops and the gaps between sucking grow longer and longer.
At some points, I have actually counted the spaces. I had to have longer spaces in between sucking than when she was actually sucking. (one, one-thousand. Two, one-thousand). Or counting breaths in between sucking. Or counting the number of times (generally three) she sucks without swallowing. There are many metrics I can use. Note: I'm not obsessive compulsive. Really, I'm not. Really.
4) I must nurse her on both sides.
This means I sometimes switch mid-bedtime nursing to go to the other side. I'm not one of those handy moms that figured out how to nurse on both sides without turning over (how do they do that? It seems so uncomfortable to me--I can never figure out what to do with my top arm) so I do the Chinese fire drill and run around the bed with pillows.
5) If she's hopelessly overtired, I have to get up and rock her to sleep with a little step, dip, step routine, until she's drowsy enough to get back down on the bed. Don't ask how I manage to lower us down onto the mattress with her still attached to my boob. I don't quite know myself.
6) Once I nurse her to sleep, she will sleep approximately an hour before she wakes up again. Then I nurse her to sleep, and usually (thank God) she's down for a while, sometimes even till morning.
Let's take a moment and savor that last sentence.
And I always find myself planning. If she wakes up, do I try the other side? Rock her? Let her get up? Take her to the bathroom?
Nursing requires such...attention. Especially to sleep. I have to gauge her leg movement and thrashing (just leg movement usually means she's not tired enough; back arching means she has to poop or she's over tired). I have to decipher her breathing (mostly asleep versus comatose). I have to distinguish between swallows (brisk and measured and slowing down). I have to gauge whether she needs to switch sides (unlatch + cry).
Basically, I should get a medal for every successful night-time nurse-down.
That's a lot of medals, people. Let's start 'em comin'.