Stay-At-Home Nerd: Always Be Swaddling
a blogumn by Joshua Pullin
For those of you who have seen the film adaptation of David Mamet’s Glenngary Glen Ross, you are familiar with Alec Baldwin’s ABCs of selling. Namely, always be closing. Well the ABCs of newborns are actually ABSs and much like their acronym-sharing anti-lock braking system, they’re invaluable in emergencies. So, what does ABS stand for? A-always, B-Be, S-Swaddled. Always Be Swaddled. Seems easy enough. Want baby to sleep: swaddle him. Want baby to stop crying: swaddle him. Want baby to get an academic scholarship to Stanford: swaddle him.
Unfortunately, it’s not as easy as it looks. The dare I say “perfect swaddle” above required seven refolds, two tucks, a pull, a sprained thumb, a mild case of dehydration and three days, fifteen hours and three minutes of practice to perfect. Fear not, though, there was a time I couldn’t even dream of swaddling. I was sure I could wrap baby in a blanket or hold him inside my coat, but the nurses assured me this wasn’t the same.
So I practiced in the hospital. I firmly believed that there was a swaddling test and I was determined to pass it. I swaddled in the evening. I swaddled in the morning. Sometimes I unswaddled him just so I could swaddle him again. Eventually I was swaddling in my dreams. Fold over the corner. Place baby on fold. Top left to bottom, securing baby’s right arm. Bottom to top with a tuck. Top right down and across, securing baby’s left arm. Pull tight and tuck inside. Soon enough I knew advanced swaddling techniques like “The Burrito” and ” The Russian”.
Then they released us from the hospital. We had no nurses, no back up. I also realized there was no test. They just let us go. Even when I pleaded, “Hey, aren’t you going to grade my swaddle” the nurses just smiled and waved goodbye. If this baby was going to be swaddled it was going to be by us and us alone. The picture you see above is from 3:27 AM on our first night in our own home. Kelly was exhausted from, you know, doing most of the work during labor and delivery. I was tired as well, but mostly from sleeping on a prison cot in the hospital. It was dark. It was the middle of the night. And, a baby was crying. Not just any baby, ’cause that would just be annoying and disturb my sleep, but my baby, our baby. He needed something to calm him, to warm him, to make him feel like he hadn’t been evicted. He needed to be swaddled.
I could have done it with my eyes closed. That’s how much I practiced. But, I didn’t. I kept my eyes wide open and watched as my newborn’s lids grew heavy with every fold, turn and tuck of his blanket. Wrapped snug and with his eyes finally closed I gently placed him in his crib, kissed him goodnight, and smiled to myself as I fell asleep knowing I’d be swaddling again, and again, and again…