Friday, June 29, 2007

Night visitor

Will whispers to his baby brother

Two days out from my due date and we are watching our plans to get Will to sleep through the night unassisted unravel again. He suffers from what pediatrician and sleep researcher Marc Weissbluth in his book “Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Child,” calls “Jack-in-the-Box Syndrome” (more on that later) – and after a lot of hard work we’d brought him to a place where he wakes up an average of once a night, comes in and wakes up his daddy (mommy is off-limits at nighttime now since we are trying to ensure that when the new baby arrives he doesn’t take mommy away from Will suddenly) and then quietly goes back into his room, where Rob lays him down and he goes back to sleep.
But tonight I wake up and find Will sleeping soundly right between Rob and me. I’m in disbelief that Rob would surrender to Will’s crying at this point and bring him back into our bed after months away. And with the baby’s birth so imminent. So I sneak off to the bathroom (because anytime you are 40 weeks pregnant that is the first order of business upon awakening, even if a crisis is looming) and listen as Rob carries Will back to his room. Rob comes back to me, looks at me in disbelief, and asks if I let Will sleep with us. Then we realize Will just tucked himself in quietly between us so deftly that neither of us woke up.

The situation worries us. I’m imagining the baby who will soon be nursing (and likely in our bed for some of those late-night sessions for the first few months) and how dangerous it could be for Will to crawl in on all of us as we sleep.
So we talk about it in the morning: How when baby is very little he will only drink mommy’s milk, just like Will did, and sometimes he will need it in the middle of the night, just like Will did. And with his body so fragile and his head so soft, we have to be very careful with him. Will agrees that in the future he will always be sure to wake up mommy or daddy rather than climbing straight into our bed – but I wonder if he will forget at night.

The truth is, though, that before I got around to the disbelief and worrying, when I saw Will and his daddy sleeping there right beside me, my first thought was of how wonderfully peaceful we were in that lapse of a moment – all sleeping together. I can appreciate families who choose to co-sleep when they can make it work for them. For us it slowly turned into a road leading to exhaustion, but obviously I miss the sweetness of it still.

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