We are great believers in swaddling. We brought Ben to it a few weeks after  birth, and it helped a great deal, along with using "rain music" (continuous white noise), and a host of other tricks. Rex got the treatment right away. But we got too good at it--we figured out how to create an unbreakable swaddle! Ben by six months was mostly able to escape his swaddle within minutes. Rex, more straitjacketed, was content to be cocooned.

Which is a problem--because we were waiting for him to want out to release him during naps and nights. He's seven months old today, and we figured it was time. We also needed to get him off the prescription wedge he sleeps on that was built to help him with his terrible acid reflux. It's been clear that he can be comfortable flat on his back now for some time.

Ben went cold turkey in one night with no wedge and no swaddle, but the swaddle was less important to him and he was starting to manipulate himself off the wedge, which was just disturbing even with the crib surrounding him.

Our pediatrician suggested gradually loosening the swaddle for Rex, but that didn't seem to motivate him. So we opted to bite the bullet and after some false starts (colds, teething), we pulled the plug last night. He slept 90 minutes, complained for 15, slept 45, complained for 45, and then slept through until 6 am--the preferred earliest time we'd like him to wake up!

Good baby. Good baby.

He was very pleased with himself this morning, cooing and gurgling happily when I got him up.

This bodes well for the next big transition, which is sleeping in the room with Ben. We need some consistency in his going down and getting up for us to feel comfortable about merging the kids, but that now seems a matter of days and weeks, not months.

Tomorrow morning could find me writing about how Rex wailed all night, of course, but he tends not to do that. His relatively rare overnight wakings last two hours or less, and then he tends to sleep late.

Joys of Parenting, 12.30 am Edition

I truly love my boys, and truly love being a parent. It's just neat every day. I have more of a sense of the limits of my patience (I didn't know I had a limit), and the unlimited amount of love I can feel and accept.

Then there's the lack of sleep.

Yesterday, I had one of my best days as a dad. We've been working, Lynn and I, to be able to let her get out of the house for a few uninterrupted hours at a time on the weekend. It probably sounds silly to any experienced parents--anyone with older kids, 3 or more kids, or just more energy--that we're at seven months, and it's still hard for "mom" to have some time to herself. Or maybe that doesn't sound silly at all.

Rex can be pretty easy going, but every weekend there's a cold among one of us (often me!), or some special set of activities that take up so much time neither Lynn nor I get more than an hour or two to ourselves. (The evenings are generally pretty good, though, until daylight saving time came to an end. We typically swap which of us puts which boy to bed, giving us about three hours each in which we can do exciting adult things, like read a novel or pay bills. If children only knew how exciting night time was for us...)

Lynn takes care of the kids during the weekdays, and Ben is in childcare three of those days. The boys are pretty demanding of attention in generally the nicest ways. Rex and Ben both want to do things, and they get bored. They're not usually peevish (unless sick), and Rex can't really show peevishness yet--he can be angry, sad, or happy, with some neutral in there, too.

So yesterday, I had four hours with the boys, during which Rex slept for some (about half an hour) and Ben for nearly two hours. Since Lynn is nursing Rex, there's always this issue of having milk ready and transporting it when I go out with them, and so forth. After Ben was up, we all went out to a park and a grocery store, and I felt very competent. Lynn, of course, does this two days or more a week. She has the biological advantage of not needing to prepare food for Rex, and also the advantage of routine. But I'm getting there. It was a lot of fun.

After such a great day, one in which Lynn returned from her travels pretty happy to have had a stretch of time on her own after weeks of colds among all of us, which put demands on her, we had Rex's worst nighttime teething episode yet. The kid has been cutting teeth for what seems like four months without one ever emerging. But it's getting close, to judge by his pain.

He woke as I entered the bedroom at 10.30 last night, and despite various approved drugs (Orajel, Motrin), nursing, and some attempts at soothing via bouncing (which used to work), no luck. So he was put back down, and screamed bloody murder for a while. After midnight, Lynn and I were both asleep despite the hollering (her: deaf ear up; me: earplugs, which only reduced the sound to a level where I could hear if something were wrong). He woke at 5-something, went back to sleep after a moment; woke at 6.15, and that was the time we'd love him to get up anyway. I got up with him, and then was able to trade with Lynn. Got another couple hours of sleep, and then she did when he went down for a nap.

We're hoping that's a one-night-only engagement, but with teething, I think it strikes when they're laying on their back--the throbbing always seemed to hit Ben in the middle of the  night. Tylenol worked perfectly for Ben. Rex doesn't respond well to it or Motrin--no substantial effect most of the time, but no ill effects, either.


TV Mash-Ups

A couple of new or newish TV programs I'm enjoying are extremely high concept, but I still like them.

Torchwood. A BBC import, and a spin-off from the Doctor Who franchise, it's a great conceit. Instead of humanity always being the frigging victim of marauding alients, always cowering in the basement, waiting for some White Knight to arrive--i.e., the Doctor or some such--the folks at Torchwood act as a sort of combination shadow government, research institution, and last line of defense. They've been collecting and learning to use alien detritus that's landing on earth all the time, which is a good gag. If you add together all the sci-fi movies and TV series, one would expect tons and tons of alien technology to be laying around.

The Torchwood high concept line: X Files crossed with Highlander.

Oh, and it's set in Cardiff, Wales, so you get these lovely Welsh accents, including from the lead actress in the show, Eve Myles.

It's a little too cute at times, what with five people constantly working to save the world, and the lead John Barrowman incapable of dying (hence the Highlander mention). I always thought the name a bit strange, but I find via Wikipedia an anagram of Doctor Who, originally used as a codename for the new Doctor Who series.

Samantha Who. I never watched Married with Children, but I have somehow long been a fan of Christina Applegate (probably because of her two-season show, Jesse); she just makes me want to root for her success. I'm not sure why. Samantha Who is her latest TV series. The writing could be better, but she's the James Brown of sitcoms. She works, baby, she works. Tim Russ (from Star Trek: Voyager) has a recurring role as a doorman; greatest gravitas and voice in the industry.

The gag is that she's a "30-year-old" (Applegate is 36, thank you) who has head trauma in an accident and has almost total life amnesia, but has all her basic knowledge. This is not unheard of. She's a bad person who, through amnesia, becomes appalled with how she acted, and sees a lot of her bad behavior through people's reactions to her now. A few off notes include her being booted from an AA meeting for speaking honestly about her condition, which would, in fact, never ever happen. I don't know if AA shot out a complaint about it. Very unfortunate.

The Samantha Who high concept line: My Name Is Earl crossed with Regarding Henry.