Monday, April 8, 2013
Off the rails
We've been co-sleeping from the beginning. Although she has a crib she has never spent more than a few minutes in it (minutes of her screaming bloody murder I might add). Because I was breastfeeding her every two hours through the night it just seemed the natural thing to do to have her sleep next to me. She would wake up to nurse and then (when I was lucky) go right back to sleep. It was the only way I got any sleep at all. Any time I tried to put her in her crib, she just wouldn't have it. I had a bassinett and wound up selling it. Until I actually had her at home with me I had no idea what it would be like. She wouldn't sleep anywhere or any way except next to me.
People talk about "sleep training" where you just leave your baby to cry with the assumption that eventually she'll wear herself out and fall asleep and over time she'll learn that this is just how it is, crying less and less each night. The problem is although that may work for ordinary babies, Michelle is far from ordinary. I think she could probably scream all night if I left her there. Which I wouldn't. I'm a softie. Even at my most frustrated moments, the longest I could ever leave her to cry in the crib was 5 minutes. Well it was probably more like 3 minutes but it felt like an eternity. Sometimes when we were in the car and she was unhappy she could scream for almost an hour (and let me tell you I don't think there are too many things as stressful as driving with a screaming baby. Thank goodness she seems to enjoy car rides now overall. She either sleeps or sits contentedly looking out the window most of the time now. Though of course now that I've said that, it probably won't happen again. Just when I think things are getting better or eaiser in some way, it changes.) So now I don't know what to do about the sleeping situation. Leaving her to cry in the crib just seems cruel but letting her sleep in my bed is no longer safe now that she's crawling and climbing around. Ironically it says Safety First right on the rail but then again they do warn you on it, in fine print that it is no substitute for a crib and should only be used for children that are old enough to climb out of an adult bed normally. It used to hold her in when she could do nothing more than roll but she's an acrobat now and you can't keep her still.
Michelle had been cranky that day. She'd only had a short morning nap and no afternoon nap. We had a nice visit with Tara and Elena (I'd spoken with her online and felt like I knew her but we hadn't actually met) mid-afternoon. Ironically we had even discussed sleeping arrangements. Tara had a convertible crib for Elena and had that against the bed, with high railings to keep her safe. I just had a short white railing thing that my Mom had given me on one side and a body pillow on the other.
So I may have to put her in her crib for her own safety. The problem is that neither of us may ever sleep again. The other option is for me to just never do anything in the evening but sleep next to her. Or I could take the mattress and box spring off the frame and put it on the floor so at least there wouldn't be as far to fall and cover the floor with pillows. I wish I could fit in the crib and then I'd sleep in there with her! It's so difficult because the only way she ever falls asleep is breastfeeding next to me. I usually fall asleep too and so we get through the night waking and feeding and going back to sleep. If I have to lift her and put her back in her crib each time, it'll wake us both up. My Mom has an answer for that too. I shouldn't be feeding her so often anyway and she has to be weaned and blah blah blah. Of course in her day you only fed your baby every four hours and weaned them completely by six months, giving them cow's milk. She was giving me solid food when I was six weeks old. No wonder I have so many intestinal problems! I told her that back then they didn't know any better. Back then they didn't even know smoking was bad for you and probably allowed it in the hospital. She said yes they did. Some women were even smoking while they were nursing their babies in the hospital. So there you go. Next time Mom says "in MY day" I'll remind her of the smoking Moms.
Hearing that THUD was one of the worst moments of my life. I can't bear for Michelle to ever be hurt. She's had so many near misses (almost banged her head on the crib and changetable while crawling but I blocked her in time, almost hit her head on the hardwood in the living room, almost ran into the corner of a bookshelf unit.) I guess she was bound to have an accident at some point. Unfortunately even when she's walking and doesn't fall, I still have to worry. Kids are always getting hurt. My nephew was running and dancing around and hit his head on the corner of the wall. What can you do? You can't bubble wrap your kids and your entire house and the entire planet. There is a show called "Bubble Wrap Kids." I caught a little of it one day and I could relate to the Mom wanting to control everything and not let her children get hurt. The problem is that if you protect your kids too much, you don't really allow them enough freedom to explore and enjoy life. My Mom tried to protect us. She worried about us so much we weren't allowed to go anywhere or do anything. I was the only kid in my class that didn't get to go on trips. They were going to Quebec one time and my Mom wouldn't let me. I had to stay behind and do a project on Quebec while everyone else got to actually be there. I don't want to hold Michelle back from doing things but at the same time I will worry any time she's out of my sight. I worry even when she's in my sight!
Michelle did eventually fall asleep later that night. She was up playing and laughing for hours. Now as she slept like an angel, I watched her, feeling so relieved and grateful that she's OK. She didn't even seem to have a mark on her. I remembered the words of a nurse in the hospital after I had Michelle. She was giving me pointers on breastfeeding and caring for a new baby. She said I was too gentle with Michelle. That I had to be more forceful when I tried to make her latch on to feed. "People think babies are fragile, like eggs but they're really hard-boiled eggs. They're more resilient than you think."