Last night was by far the worst night we’ve had with Porter. Ever. Even his worst night as a newborn was nothing compared to what we experienced last night.
We were visiting my sister in Indianapolis, so we were away from home. We’ve taken a few short trips away from home before and we hadn’t experienced any problems. While on these trips, Porter didn’t seem to mind and didn’t have a difficult time adjusting to a new place. With his rock-n-play and his sound machine, putting him to bed had never been a problem while we were away. This was our second night staying at her place, and he had done fine the previous night. I had no problems putting him to bed on Thursday night and he slept through the night beautifully.
Friday night was an entirely different story.
I went up to bed around 10 p.m. and I noticed that Porter was awake. He wasn’t crying, but he would make a noise every now and then. I figured he would fall back to sleep, so I got in bed and tried to fall asleep myself. He started fussing, so I reached out to rock his rock-n-play, as this usually puts him back to sleep. Soon his fussiness turned into a loud cry, so I figured he was probably wet and/or hungry. I changed his diaper (which was wet, but not overly so) and fed him (despite the fact that he had been fed 3 hours earlier.) He seemed content, so I put him back down, and he was quiet for about thirty minutes. Suddenly, he starting
crying screaming, so I picked him up and paced the room while I rubbed his back. This calmed him down, but every time I tried to put him back down, he would immediately start crying. This wasn’t his normal cry, either. His cries and screams were unlike any I had ever heard before that night. Thus, I walked and bounced him for about an hour. I felt helpless as I pondered this weird behavior; 99% of the time he sleeps through the night without waking.
Around midnight David came up to go to bed. When David came in, I was changing Porter’s diaper again, which I knew wasn’t the problem, but I figured it wouldn’t hurt. The screaming didn’t stop. Then, I continued to walk and bounce him, but at this point, Porter wasn’t pacified by my pacing and bouncing. I knew he wasn’t hungry, but I tried feeding him again. David tried walking with him, but that didn’t help either. He wasn’t gassy; he wasn’t wet/poopy; he wasn’t hungry. He was tired, but he would not sleep. NOTHING in our arsenal of tricks that had worked countless times before was helping.
I literally started playing scenarios in my head. I imagined having to call the emergency number at our pediatrician’s office, despite being three hours away.
“Hi, Doctor. We’re having problems with Porter.”
“What seems to be the problem?”
“Um, he won’t sleep and he won’t stop crying.”
“Welcome to parenthood.” Click.
We felt helpless before, but after an hour and a half of his screaming, we really felt helpless now. David and I stared at each other in the dark and spoke to each other without words. “What are we going to do?” My eyes filled with tears and my heart literally hurt from the agony I was feeling.
David finally spoke. “Let’s go for a drive.” These were the exact words I was thinking, yet hadn’t said.
I read somewhere that you should never use a car/driving in order to try to get a baby to fall asleep. I don’t remember the reasoning, but it probably had something to do with teaching babies to soothe themselves. However, at 1:30 in the morning, I didn’t care about following this random bit of parenting advice.
As we walked out the door, my sister asked “How long has it been since he’s been this way at night?”
“Never. He’s never been like this.”
So we packed Porter in his car seat and started to drive around nearby neighborhoods surrounding my sister’s condo.
About a half hour later, Porter had been quiet for awhile, so we assumed that he was asleep. We drove back to my sister’s, pulled in the driveway, and said a mental prayer before getting out of the car. I opened up the door, and sure enough, our sweet little boy was peacefully asleep. With much care and precision, we took the car seat out of the car, walked through the front door, climbed the steps, and tip-toed back into the bedroom. We didn’t even think about trying to retrieve him from his car seat, and despite the fact that there are probably numerous parenting articles that warn parents not to let their babies sleep in their car seats for long periods of time, we did it anyway.
I awoke at every minuscule movement or sound and held my breath until I was convinced that Porter wasn’t going to wake up. Thankfully, Porter slept for the rest of the night.
This morning Porter was his usual self, bright-eyed and smiley, and he showed no memory of last night’s events. Upon retrieving him from his car seat, I stuck my finger in his mouth, which has been a practice of mine for several weeks now. I let out a deep sigh that I didn’t even realize I had been holding in. Our midnight mystery had been solved. Just below the surface, barely detectable but definitely there, was the white tip of Porter’s first tooth poking through his gums.