Wendy Whale for President

Just to be clear, this is not about politics. It’s about the fact that Wendy Whale is probably responsible for my sanity still being relatively intact, and as such I am her biggest fan. She was made by Gund, she’s soft and squishy, and there are little blue ribbons sown to her spout to look like water. She has a swirly button on her tale, and when it’s pushed she plays soothing, oceanic music and moves through a series of gently pulsating lights. She is very calming, and she was the breakthrough with Asher’s daytime sleeping.

This picture wasn’t posed, I went in to check on him and found them like this.

Asher has slept through the night since he was a little less than 3 months old. The fact that he was on formula by then could definitely be a contributing factor, but he also seems to just be a naturally good sleeper…at night. But during the day, he was like a different person…a person who didn’t like sleeping.

At bedtime, we go through Asher’s little routine, and barring an unusual circumstance like a tooth poking through to make him grouchy, he goes down in his crib awake and promptly falls asleep. He sleeps all night, then he wakes up in the morning and starts chatting with himself until someone goes in to retrieve him. I was convinced he would have a terrible sleep regression at 4 or 5 months, because it just seemed too good to be true, but he never did. So far, so good.

This is not how it was during the day. Getting that child to nap while the sun was out was like herding cats. Actually no, worse than that, I’m surprisingly good at herding cats (I think it’s because I understand their nervous energy, but that’s a topic for another day). Asher has fought going to sleep for an hour and a half, only to wake up 45 minutes later in a bad mood because he’s still tired. Sigh. It didn’t matter how exhausted and in need of a nap he was, he didn’t want to sleep so he wasn’t gonna sleep.

I was honestly at my wit’s end about his napping strike, and it was especially confusing because he was such an angelic sleeper at night. A number of other moms dismissed my woe out of hand, saying that it didn’t matter if he refused to nap because he was always getting a good night’s sleep. I know they were just trying to put a positive spin on it (or, let’s be honest, they were jealous), but to be harsh for a second, they were wrong. It did matter that he wasn’t napping, because he was exhausted and unhappy all. damn. day. And with an exhausted and unhappy baby, I’ll give you one guess at MY emotional state!

Then one day my Mom came over to visit, and she brought this cute little Gund whale with her. She knew I would like it because I’m a sucker for aquatic creatures, and it was soft and cuddly so Asher was totally into it. I honestly can’t remember now if it was her idea or mine, but the next day I tried putting Wendy Whale in Asher’s crib with him during naptime. This wasn’t an instantaneous miracle cure, and he didn’t become a good napper on the spot; but let me tell you, my child no longer tantrums for an hour and a half before going to sleep.

When it’s time for a nap, Asher drinks his bottle, cuddles with me for a few minutes, then I put him down in his crib and turn on Wendy Whale…and he falls asleep. Every so often Wendy Whale’s timer will end before he’s completely out, a situation I am promptly alerted to by his indignant hollering. And on more than one occasion I’ve gone in to check on him because he’s slept for so long, only to find him wide awake and playing with Wendy Whale, totally content.

Wendy Whale’s official headshot!

I don’t know if it’s the lights, the music, the shape, the color, the ribbon spout, but something about that little stuffed whale makes my nap-resistant son think, “huh, I bet falling asleep right now would be super pleasant and refreshing”. And I know it’s not just a coincidence, because I’ve tried putting him down without Wendy Whale, only to swiftly recant on my foolish decision and return her to her rightful place (indignant hollering is very effective on me!).

So, sometimes help comes from an unlikely source. After trying absolutely everything to get Asher to nap, the breakthrough was good old Wendy Whale. The two of them are happily snoozing away as I write this. I don’t know why it works, I’m just glad it does!

Have you ever gotten help where you weren’t even looking to find it? Was it as surprising as a singing whale?

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