Setting up sleep

My wife and I were spoiled by Gideon spending a week in the NICU.

Gideon in the NICU

That seems like an awful thing to say. The NICU is the last place parents expect or want their newborn to experience their first hours. With needles stuck into their heads, wires taped to their bodies, it’s the stuff that nightmares are made of. There’s real emotional and physical tolls on the parents. After being discharged from the hospital you’re no longer 5 minutes and a handscrub away from your child, instead you’re at home. But it’s not really your home anymore because the house is oddly empty, nothing seems to have changed there which belies the fact that everything has changed.

The ideal sleep environment

But in a way we were spoiled, because in his time there Gideon was kept on a precise sleep and feeding schedule that could only be maintained by a psychotically punctual villain like the Clock King or, in this case, a professional team of nurses offering the best care in the world. A dissonant chord entered this rhythm when we took him home though. Despite Gideon’s best efforts to maintain his schedule, it slowly unraveled due to the impracticalities of life at home not hospital.

Amber and I reaped the rewards of the nurses hard work for the first few weeks. We marveled at how Gideon let us sleep through the night, punctuated by only a few feeding intervals. But like all parents we got too greedy. We would let him sleep too long so we could enjoy dinner in peace, we would wake him up ahead of time to eat so his feeding time wouldn’t interrupt our schedule. And as we introduced chaos into his schedule to better fit ours, his sleeping became more random and haphazard in a way that was detrimental to our own. We had played ourselves. Now instead of getting 3-4 hours of sleep at a time we’d be lucky to get an hour. He wouldn’t stay down for more than 15 minutes at night and then sleep during prime daylight hours in the afternoon. It was unsustainable.

This wasn’t a problem that could be solved with love. No amount of cooing, rocking, swaddling, feeding and burping was going to get us our precious sleep back. No, in order to solve this we needed to be jerks. No matter how he protested, we made a rule that he would not sleep after 6-7pm until we went to bed as well. If he fell asleep eating, or in the baby bjorn, or even in our arms it meant one thing: Back/tummy time!

The horror, the horror…

I repeat the process when I wake up at 4:30am (I work at 6). I get up, get ready, feed him a small amount then let him exercise (his arms, legs, neck AND lungs) until I finish his feeding, lulling him back to sleep and letting mom get a bit more rest.

Pictured: A good good burrito boy

End result? Wide eyed rested parents, a strong baby, and even a happier more cheerful baby in the morning. Turns out babies seem to benefit from a good night’s sleep too. This is a good early lesson for us, sometimes as parents we have to be jerks and set our kid on a path that works for everyone (including us!) instead of obliging them to whatever they want. We just had to get started on this way earlier than I thought!




OverReview: The Collapsing Empire

Scalzi enters another exciting but easily digestible book into his bibliography.
His character work is much improved from his previous books. Some entries, especially ones like ‘The End of All Things’ that followed multiple characters, had a problem where every character sounded the same. They all had the same sense of humor, they talked the same way, etc… it made it difficult to even differentiate aliens (who were never very alien) from humans, let alone human from human. Each character here, in the short time we have with them, feels much more like their own person. This is a good sign given we will see a LOT of Scalzi books come out in the next decade.

The world building is… curious. Within the first few paragraphs the narrative is interrupt for the author to explain to us how the science fiction elements (specifically in this case, faster than light travel) will work in this book. It was a bit jarring as I can’t recall another book that has simply broken the story to say (paraphrasing) “In this universe they travel from one system to another using a set of pathways called the Flow”. Perhaps Scalzi felt like he needed to do this to quickly get the details out of the way so he could get right back into the story, but I felt like this aside was unnecessary. The whole system is simple enough that the details could be inferred simply by reading the story. You know, what normally happens in a book.

Scalzi also isn’t above re-using a few of his tropes from the Old Man’s War series. Of course the system of government/guilds/castes/church is built on deception. Complicated plans and schemes go off without a hitch, nearly always working exactly as planned. A hyper competent and deadly female soldier ala OMW’s Sagan appears, although mostly only to easily get the more prominent characters out of a bad situation.

Despite that, the world he created here is interesting enough, and the characters compelling enough to blast through those roadblocks and end up with a very enjoyable science fiction romp. I found the whole guild/caste system with their trade and monopolies very interesting. The church seemed to not be well fleshed out, or even necessary other than to show that the Imperials had all of society wrapped up in their emperox (but there are two more books for more to be revealed). It’s almost a shame that we enter this world right when it’s starting to unravel and fall apart and not have any time to enjoy it while it operates as it should. I suppose that would be a departure from the breakneck pace that Scalzi is setting for these novels, but it’s nice to take a leisurely stretch before running the race.