We really didn't have to try! She likes structure, we do a bath and infant massage every night. Have you tried a big bottle right before bed?
They were sharing what they had seen, but those stories burned me more. I know sleep is a journey for every baby. When our son was born, we had no idea we were setting out on the Appalachian Trail. If that's where you are, you don't ask advice from day-hikers. You're climbing the same hill but looking at a very different route. We needed a different set of mile markers, so we made them up and largely ignored the baby-book map we were given. Doing that, you lose the sense of shared travel that social media can provide, at least when it comes to sleep.
In some cases, technology helped us access useful resources. We found some encouragement in the Longest Shortest Time podcast, which sends the message that this hard time with young children can feel endless, but they also grow up so fast. You don’t want to miss it. We knew that feeling. We wanted to pay attention to his little life, even though it hurt. The podcast isn’t filled with stories just like ours, but it does share stories of people trying to respond well to their challenges. It also freed me from the desire to explain what this was like to people who hadn’t experienced it—or mostly freed me, anyway. It helped me give myself permission to write our stories in private.
You write differently when you're only writing for yourself. You take pictures differently when you aren’t hunting for a shot worth posting. Sure, at family events, I'm testing whether my mirrorless ILC camera really can shoot 10 frames per second. There are days when it’s my mission to make memories. Partly that changes as children grow. As the boy—he’s almost three now—has become more engaged with the world, it's easier to find less complicated moments to capture. Like when he makes up new verses to “Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star,” or when he mispronounces “yellow” (“lellow"), or the way his pretend sneezes come at a whisper.
I still don't share very much about our son online. This year on Facebook I’ve posted pictures of him twice and told one story—about his transition to a toddler bed. My wife posts more pictures of the “ain’t that cute” variety, but plain-speaking is reserved for small groups of friends. I confess I subtweet the boy on Twitter, but I’ve only posted two photos in the last year. When I want to share with family or close friends, I use private cloud services or I just don’t share at all.
Now he's sleeping better than he ever has. We're on to other challenges like potty training and sharing toys, which puts us back on common ground with a lot of parents. This fall, he’ll become a big brother, and I’m sure I’ll want to talk to friends about that change. But I'm still cautious about what I record, and even more circumspect in what I share. When I first became a dad, I found it hard to relate with the crowd of parents publishing their Peacable Kingdom scenes on Facebook. They were living a different reality, and I’m not ready to rejoin them if it makes me focus on sharing and not on him. I want to be present in these moments, however harrowing they feel.