Saturday, June 30, 2007

This I Believe

The Stuff of Sleep or How to Know When it is Time to Throw the Baby Books Out With the Bath Water
After discussing baby sleep with multiple friends and parents who have Ferberized, co-slept, Nanny 911'ed, "worn their babies down in a sling," shushed, swung, suckled and swaddled their little ones to sleep; after browsing whole bookshelves in my local bookstore and public library dedicated to sleep issues like "The Family Bed," "The Horse (I mean Baby) Whisperer," "The No Cry Sleep Solution," "The Happiest Baby on the Block," Happy Baby, Healthy Sleep," along with the popular Dr. Sears and Dr. Seuss’s Sleep books, the most wisdom I could glean was that you can either follow the experts, or follow your baby.

When Juj was born, nearly 11 years ago, he slept in a small antique crib (which would certainly not meet safety standards today) next to our pull-out futon in the living room of our first apartment together. When he’d wake with the hunger cry, piercing and unnerving, my husband and I would feed him and hold him and burp him and off he would go back into the little outdated criblette on his SIDS-dangerous tummy. After 10 or so weeks, with minimal crying and fussing at night, he began to sleep 10-12 hours, straight on through the sweet, sweet night. Sleep like that, solid, dream filled sleep, that soother of the day’s pricks and thorns, that mender of a fragmented mind and body was ours again.

Now, I realize that not every baby takes to this sleep stuff so easily and that the world is filled with sleep deprived parents desperate for answers, second guessing themselves and trying to figure out how to get a little bit of sleep please. It’s is frustrating, exhausting and just plain maddening.

I know this now because when little Petunia, who was a heat seeking missile from day one, was born, she abhorred the bassinet, the co-sleeper and the crib so much that her harsh, piercing cries shook the walls every time we set her down for the night. We were confounded. Before Petunia’s birth, we snickered to ourselves about how our two year old nephew still slept with his parents and assured ourselves that we would never be so overprotective, so lacking in boundaries and discipline, indeed such complete suckers! But eventually all the conventional sleeping contraptions went the way of the dinosaurs, except for the Kangaroo Korner fleece pouch, and we reluctantly became a co-sleeping family. That is where she slept best. It helped us through months of night terrors, teething pain and not otherwise specified night waking. In fact, we all slept better.

At twenty months, Lil Pet sleeps well through the night, right between us, hogging the bed, kicking off the covers, pushing us both to either edges of our mattress. We’ve given up our own snuggling at night, but we sleep, fiber optic butterfly fluttering out blues and greens on the wall, ocean waves rushing in and out all night from a digital alarm clock on the dresser, we sleep until morning, being flexible enough to bend when a strong enough wind blows.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

wow are my eyes getting heavy!? just give her pappy's chest and all will be well.