Regardless of what the ancient Chinese texts say, I’m convinced that Tai Chi was created by the parents of a baby who would awaken at the drop of a diaper pin. These hypothetical Tai Chi creators took to laying down with their little one to get them to sleep, but would then be faced with the monumental task of extracting themselves from their sleeping baby’s presence, without waking the finicky snoozer. After numerous failed attempts, these Tai Chi parents learned how to move so slowly and gracefully, they could remove themselves from baby’s energy field without a peep, bump, or ‘ah s*** I stubbed my toe!’ But, it would take them 20 minutes to move 2 feet.
I don’t formally practice Tai Chi, but since I’ve become a self-proclaimed expert of the nap extraction, I’d like to think I’d be quite a whiz at the glacially slow form of Chinese exercise. In the beginning, I was such a novice at nap extraction that Hudson’s naps would last an average of a whopping 5 minutes, or I would be lured to sleepy land, and would wake up 2 hours later drooling, and nursing a baby who had learned to pull my boob out without my assistance, or consent. If I wanted to get anything done, I needed to learn how to remove myself from naptime, without taking the curtain of slumber with me.
Let’s compare my rookie mistakes to my now masterful moves:
#1-Laying down in the middle of the bed
Cuddling up with baby in the middle of the bed means you have a long way to roll, crawl, or shuffle before you reach the ‘almost home free’ zone, of the floor by the bed. My first attempt at squirming out from the middle of the bed ended in tears, for both Hudson, and I. I had honestly spent over 10 minutes (I was eyeing the clock the entire time,) gently scooting my body centimeter by centimeter closer to the edge of the bed. Four feet never felt so formidable. When I was just about to make touchdown on the treasured floor, my shift in weight caused Hudson to start, and let out a piercing ‘I’m suddenly wide awake now!’ wail. Joy. Back to square one.
I now position myself approximately 5 inches from the edge of the bed. This positioning allows me to awkwardly do a cramp inducing side-backbend to grasp the edge of our bed frame. I then muster all the ‘I must make it out of this bed without waking this child’ strength, and quickly roll my body out of bed in one fell swoop, all the while depositing most of my weight on the immovable bed frame.
#2-Placing arm under pillow
I sleep with an arm under my pillow, I don’t know why; I just always have, and likely always will. It’s my comfy pose. Baby naptime is no time for a comfy pose, unless I want to end up like the fore mentioned daytime droller whose infant feeds off her while she sleeps. Having to remove an arm from underneath a pillow adds a whole other element of hassle to the extraction process. Hudson has a habit of scooting himself up my body as he sleeps, which means his little head is often resting at the bottom of the pillow I’m trying to break free of. The first time I undertook this ‘arm under pillow’ extraction challenge, I was met by an ‘Ah-ha! I got you!’ slap of the baby hand. My plan had been foiled. Never move the pillow, never move the pillow, never move the pillow; it will just bring catastrophe.
I now keep my arm far and away from that pain in the neck pillow, and place my arm stiffly beside my torso, which often causes a literal pain in my neck. But, it’s utterly worth it if I can withdraw myself from the nap and gain 30 minutes to do whatever I want (aka wash dishes, fold laundry, and lay starfish on the ground in silence, without a tiny human crawling on me.)
#3-Getting under the blanket
I used to cozy on up under Huddy’s ‘blankie’ with him. He would tangle his legs in mine and the blanket would slowly tuck itself around me, forming a human burrito. Need I say more? Extracting myself from this predicament was a waking-baby nightmare. There was only one time I was able to miraculously pull myself out, and Hudson was high on post-immunization baby pain meds.
I now lay down with baby; wrap him in the blanket, and stuff a bit of the blanket in between his legs. This baby cannot sleep without something nudged between his tiny knees; I get it, it must be genetic. After I create my baby burrito, I join the party, ensuring I’m positioned in my proper escape route, without any baby waking items atop me.
The Mother of all Extractions
For this one moment in time, I wish I had hidden cameras in my bedroom. This nighttime nap extraction was the lord of all nap extractions, and I wish I had it documented for all to see, sigh. It was a quiet night in the little town of Ojai. The fan was quietly whirling, generating a light breeze in the room. Our sound machine was producing faux raindrops, and our hippie Himalayan pink salt crystal lamp was emitting a good energy glow in the room. The conditions were ideal for a deep baby sleep, and a swift mommy extraction. It all started as planned, as I initiated phase one of Operation Mommy Removal, and gingerly made my backbend move to grip the bed frame. As I gripped the sturdy frame, Hudson let out a kick, popped open his eyes, and we began a stare off. I didn’t dare blink, but decided to be bold and began a slow whisper like ‘shhhh’ incantation. The Gods must have been smiling in pity for me because his eyelids started a glorious descent, and he drifted back to the land of REM. Next, I was required to reposition my hand in order to regain the optimal pre-roll lateral stance. As I moved my hand, it landed smack dap in what I instantly knew to be a huge sticky spider web. Don’t move a muscle. I prayed to the powers that be that the occupant of this spider web, and my baby, did not wake up. My silent pleas were honored and I remained un-bit, and un-met with open baby eyes. I then began phase two, and commenced my side roll, with the intent of softly placing my feet on solid ground. The unspeakable happened, I over did my roll, and was forced by gravity to thump down on the ground with what sounded like a thunderous thud in my hypersensitive ears. I heard a little whimper from baby, and embarked on holding my breath for what felt like a mini eternity, not daring to even twitch an eyelash. After getting precariously close to losing consciousness, I initiated my stealthy Tai Chi crawl out of the room. It took me so long to transport my sloth like self out of the sleep den, I only had about 45 minutes before Hudson graced my world with his alert cuteness. But, I’ll never forget the feeling of accomplishment I experienced after my tumultuously triumphant extraction.