Week 7 is about learning balance and trust, it seems.
I trusted my husband, mom, dad, MIL and FIL to accomplish work on the new house without me this past weekend, because I needed to be Pud’s mama and because I was, frankly, exhausted. They came home and brought news that was incredibly encouraging: the monster vine in front of our porch is gone and its evil plot to consume our house has been thwarted; all of the main floor’s ceilings were finished being painted; the kitchen walls got cleaned and painting started; and the two bedrooms got primed with Kilz. Pud and I, meanwhile, worked on getting his congestion under control and his head cleared out while enjoying the company of my sister and, briefly, my niece.
I spent a lot of time getting frustrated with the fact that my Pud was so congested. He did not feel well and he made it known. He wanted to be in my arms constantly and he fussed nonstop between very brief periods of sleep. I even took him to the doctor on Tuesday, thinking that his congestion had gotten into his chest, but it had not (thankfully). You know what silly words came out of this exhausted mom’s mouth when she cried to her daddy for relief? “I can’t put him down. If I do, he throws up or he can’t breathe!” It was one of those pitiful scenes from a Lifetime movie.
Yesterday, something clicked. Didn’t we agree to get a wrap and a mei tai precisely because we believe so strongly in the value of having baby be up in our arms and constantly close to us? All my stress over trying to get things done… and the tools were at my disposal all along! Rather than trying to wait until he’s asleep long enough to actually start and finish a task, I made him part of those tasks. Do things get done quickly? Not at all. But they get done, which is way better than my previous strategies, which left things undone and me feeling very frazzled. We are trying to move, after all.
After experiencing a bout of digestive rebellion for about 5-6 hours last night, I learned something else. My child cannot sleep without me nearby. Perhaps he’d have made it if I’d woken B and asked him to step in and help, but I was trying to keep Pud calm, satisfied, and sleeping so that B could get the necessary sleep for driving to work this morning. I managed to keep Pud calm and satisfied, but not sleeping. He could not settle to sleep because I could not settle to sleep, with all my trips to the john. Once my stomach finally started to settle down, Pud was an exhausted baby whose adrenaline (aka second wind) had kicked in and was keeping him wide awake. Tired, grouchy mama plus tired, cranky baby. Thank heavens B stayed home to take care of us, because Pud’s tummy began to bother him a couple of hours later, and had I not had a break when B got up, I’m not sure the day would have gone so well.
Back to what I was saying, though. I had some validation on our decision to share our bed with Pud in the form of The Attachment Parenting Book by Dr. Sears. He notes that there are studies which show the mother’s presence has a direct effect on her baby, which protects against SIDS:
- “…when one member of the pair stirred, coughed, or changed sleeping position, the other member also changed, often without awakening. These arousals may be one way in which mother’s presence keeps baby from sleeping too deeply.”
- “Mother and baby were more likely to be in the same stage of sleep for longer periods if they slept together.”
- “Sleep-sharing babies spent less time in each cycle of deep sleep. Babies with a tendency toward irregular breathing and apnea experience these episodes during deep sleep. Less deep sleep therefore means less risk.”
His book suggests that, based on kangaroo care research, the close contact and proximity to mom and dad means that baby has regular heartbeat and breathing patterns that remind him/her to breathe and regulate their breathing.
Perhaps, then, this is the reason that Pud couldn’t sleep without me nearby- he had no one to synchronize and check in with when he was in his crib alone.
We seek balance in the area of sleep and sleep locations, too, though. Pud has a beautiful crib. He sleeps in it throughout the day, and when he’s put down at bedtime, this is where he starts his night. When he wakes up for his midnight-ish feeding, he gets moved into our room with us. This is what works for us. With a deaf mama and a daddy who can sleep through anything, and even with the support of very attentive service dogs, I think there is a far greater risk for his health and safety for him to sleep in his crib away from us than being in the sidecar or our bed with us.
A new mantra that occurred to me and I shall repeat throughout the day and daily for a long time to come: routine, not schedule. Routines are important to our sanity. We all live for the predictability offered by consistent routines and cues for transitions between activities in our day. Sometimes, though, this gets mixed up with the modern notion of schedules. Pud is not a good child for schedules, especially right now. Our lives are so mixed up these days, being between houses and the fact that sometimes Daddy and Bandit are with us and sometimes they aren’t. Routines are what keep us grounded. Schedules are hard to keep, and trying to stay in a schedule is extremely, extremely difficult. How, for instance, can I insist that bedtime MUST be at 7:30 when he’s clearly ready at 6:30 or when he and his daddy are enjoying snuggling and talking during the few nights that he’s home? The answer lies in reading his body language and being ready to implement routine transitions when he’s ready for them. This requires trusting a little human being more than “baby trainers” and the clock.