Apparently, a higher power decided that it wasn’t difficult enough to raise an infant. Instead, we had to be given an increased degree of difficulty. We had to raise an infant without the use of electricity.
On Sunday afternoon, a storm blew through Montgomery County, and knocked our power out. Sadly, this is not a rare occurance, as this is the third time that we’ve lost power this year.
Our condo association posted a notice saying that Pepco’s estimated time of restoration was 9:30 PM that night. We figured that wouldn’t be so bad. We cooked dinner on the gas stove, put the Cutlet down early, and went to sleep.
Of course sleep isn’t a fluid thing for us these days. It comes in short bursts with several waking periods through the night. Every time I awoke, I expected to see that the power had been restored. And each time, I was left disappointed.
When I woke for the last time in the morning, we were still without the convenience of electricity, and I realized that Pepco is either a bunch of big liars or really bad at getting power restored. Probably both.
I should probably mention that waking up in the morning has taken on different meaning for me since the Cutlet arrived. It used to be that an alarm was set, and shortly after it sounded, I would get out of bed and start to get ready for work. An alarm clock is no longer necessary, as the Cutlet works far better than any electronic device.
The Cutlet is apparently a morning person. After her final feeding of the night, the Cutlet isn’t keen on slipping back into a restful slumber. Basically, if it is after 6:30 AM, there is little chance of her going back to sleep. On those few occassions when she does sleep, it isn’t wonderful, silent restful sleep. No, it is what they call active sleep, in which she flails her arms, squirms about, and makes odd noises. This is very effective in keeping her father awake.
Basically, my getting out of bed in the morning is an act of surrender. It’s when I come to the realization that the child has no intention of letting me sleep any further, so I get out of bed and take her into our living room.
Normally, spending time with the Cutlet in the morning isn’t too bad. She’s usually alert and reactive and it is fun to interact with her at these times. Plus, I can either read or watch television. Without electricity, all I can do is try to read by flashlight, a task that is much more difficult while trying to balance a squirming baby.
After enough time has passed that I didn’t feel guilty about waking Mrs. Cutter, I took the Cutlet into the bedroom and got ready for work. On my drive to work, every traffic light that I came to was out, and I realized that the problem was not limited to our neighborhood. When I arrived at work, I found that the power was out there as well. Hooray for bonus vacation days.
We were fortunately able to save much of our frozen food by evacuating it to Squinty’s place. Don’t think too highly of him though, since he wouldn’t let us have any of his cupcakes. (To be fair, he did bring a box of them over to us on Saturday)
We got word that afternoon that power had been restored, and so we became hopeful. That hope was quickly squashed as we got further reports that shortly after power was back, something was heard to explode, and our neighborhood was thrust back into darkness.
After dinner, we headed back to our darkened abode. We tried to go about our usual routine. But the usual routine becomes much more difficult when you only have candlelight to work with. For instance, when trying to change a diaper or calm a screaming baby in the night, it helps to be able to see what you are doing.
We’ve found that when the Cutlet screams during the day, it is unplesant but ultimately bearable. When the Cutlet screams during the night when you want to be sleeping, it is much less so. When the Cutlet screams in the night, and you’re stuck in the dark, and haven’t showered in over a day, it is enough to drive a person insane.
The power outage continued for another day. It wasn’t so bad. I went to work, and Mrs. Cutter passed the time between feedings. We were able to cook some dinner on the stove.
And then 8 PM came.
For whatever reason, the Cutlet does not seem to like the 8 PM hour. Just about every night, right around that time, she becomes an inconsolable crying machine. There doesn’t seem to be anything wrong with her, she just likes to cry. And when she cries, she cries hard. I’d say the term “tortured cat” best describes the sound she makes.
To calm her, we decided to take the approach laid out in the book “The Happiest Baby on the Block” and try to create a womb-like enivronment for her. This would involve swaddling (wrapping her tightly in a blanket). Most babies are said to enjoy this. The Cutlet does not. Her reaction to having her limbs wrapped is similar to how Cavaliers fans reacted to LeBron James’ decision.
Ultimately, thanks to a special swaddling sheet (the baby straightjacket) and some dedication by her parents (“You will be swaddled whether you like it or not!”), she was eventually swaddled, and by some miracle, calmed down and eventually settled into peaceful sleep.
It was a good night. There were no screaming fits, and at a couple of points, I actually got concerned, because I didn’t hear her. She was sleeping that soundly.
By the way, being concerned that you can’t hear your baby sleeping is one of the dumbest things a parent can do. Enjoy those brief moments of peace, as you’ll miss them dearly when they are gone.
In the morning, after a false start (the lights came on for fifteen minutes and then went out again), our power was finally restored! I could get ready for work with the benefit of artificial light!
And now that we’ve gotten through dealing with a screaming child without power, anything else that parenthood throws at us will be a snap. At least I can only assume so.