Victoria Jelinek

The Baby Diaries – 13

There was never a child so lovely but his mother was glad to get him to sleep. Ralph Waldo Emerson

Mama & baby ape asleepThe sleep situation with my baby boy has caused a lot of strife in our household. When I first came home from the hospital after having a c-section, I was unable to move in bed, and it seemed ‘safe’ and easy to let my baby boy sleep in the crook of my arm, which I laid upon a pillow to keep it level. Every well-meaning woman whom I know told me this was unacceptable and dangerous- my baby could be smothered by me or by my husband in our sleep! Websites confirmed this. But it also seemed as though most of this death-by-smothering was a result of a parent being intoxicated in bed next to them. And almost all of them were a result of the father. For me, it seemed natural, and practically speaking, it seemed to be the only way to get him to sleep.

After many ‘discussions’ with my husband, however, and his dissatisfaction with the sleeping arrangement, we moved the baby onto this little cot that was cut at an angle so that his head was higher up. On each side, there was a little velcro’d buffer to keep him on the wee bed. This little cot fit right in between the pillows where my husband and I rest our heads, and also seemed to work for awhile. I liked having the boy so close, because it allowed me to hear his breathing over the snores of my husband. Even so, my husband expressed repeated dissatisfaction with this arrangement and after many ‘discussions,’ we bought a ‘co-sleeper’ that we put on the side of the bed. To be honest, I never liked this situation because my boy seemed close but very far, too, and it seemed rather pointless to have him on my husband’s side of the bed, but he claimed it made it ‘easier’ for me to sleep. Finally, we put the boy in a crib in the corner of our room and hoped that this would be a fine option. The boy was able to sleep in the crib, but he woke up every couple of hours, anyway, to feed, and going over to the crib, picking him up, bringing him back to the bed with me or sitting in a chair to nurse him seemed tedious and I’d be wide awake afterwards.

The doctor told us that the baby can literally smell the milk of its mother if it’s in the same room, and this is why the baby was frequently waking up throughout the night. Consequently, my husband and I put together a sleeping schedule. Because my husband goes to bed early each night, anyway, I would be the ‘point-person’ to attend to the boy when he cried in the evening and early night while my husband would sleep in the guest-room and get several hours of uninterrupted rest. At about two am, after being awaked for another feeding, I’d nurse the boy, we’d change places, and I’d sleep peacefully until morning, and when our son next woke up, he’d be fed a bottle of formula by his father, the rotation manoeuvre completed!

To be honest, when I was in the room with the boy alone, I’d simply take him back to bed with me and feed him while I was lying down and then doze off at some point till his next revival. I could have gone on like this for a number of months, but my husband has badgered me to put the boy and his crib into a room of his own so that we can sleep in the same bed together like a ‘normal’ couple. Because I can’t think of a logical reason not to, and I’m really too tired to argue, I have complied. The first few nights that the boy was in his own room were hideous. He cried at an ear-splitting pitch and I nearly had to be tied down not to go to him. These last few nights, however, have been blissful. It seems to be true what the doctor said about his smelling me in the room, because he does not wake as frequently as he once did. As a consequence, I am feeling a renewed sense of energy and wakefulness that I have not known since I was seven months pregnant and could still sleep at night!

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