So I’ve given up on actually reading these days. I’ve started listening to books on tape (CD really, but books on tape sounds better in my mind.) But with all the energy I can muster, I do occasionally try to actually read Sweet Sleep by the good folks at La Leche League. I haven’t finished it. In fact, I haven’t even made it half-way through. But one thing has stuck with me.
I really wish I’d read this book before Gibson arrived. Because in those first cloudy days of motherhood when you haven’t slept and you’re in pain and the baby needs so much and all you really want to do is go back to the hospital, rent a room like you’re checking into a hotel and ask the nurses to help you raise this kid until he’s at least 21 years old…. I made some decisions about sleep. As in, I decided that keeping Gibson in his bassinet next to the bed was a fruitless endeavor that played hell on my stitches and made me a zombie.
Finally, I asked my friend who had become a mother only two months earlier how she managed to get any sleep. And she told me what I think all the nurses were hinting at in the hospital but couldn’t say because of state laws or something. Let the baby sleep on your chest. He wants to sleep on your chest. He wants to be right next to you and those milk machines on your chest. Just give in and do things his way.
So I did. I sat slightly reclined in the comfiest chair in the house and let Gibson sleep on my chest. And I worried and fretted for days about it, but I did manage to get slightly more sleep.
If I had read Sweet Sleep before Gibson arrived, I would have known about friction fit. Of course, as I write this, I don’t have the book on hand to reference the actual chapter. But in essence, friction fit is fastening two parts together via friction instead of an outside object holding two bits together. And when it comes to co-sleeping, you can rely on friction fit to keep your baby on your chest when you’re sleeping in a semi-reclined position. As long as baby’s head is higher than his or her bottom, gravity will do the rest and keep him or her on your chest. And thanks to all the wonderful hormones coursing through your veins as a new mama, you will wake up at baby’s slightest movement.
Yes, back is best for putting baby down to sleep. But when baby sleeps on your chest, you’re going to notice if he/she stops breathing.
When you read the book, you’ll note that this is for completely sober mamas. If you’re on heavy painkillers or anything that might make you sleep more heavily than normal, this is not an option for you. But for those of us who are merely sleep-deprived- it’s a great option. And in my case, it’s the option I chose. And Gibson, finally, blissfully slept. And so did I.
So when I read about friction fit in this book, I was retroactively put at ease with my decision six months ago. I only wish I’d read it before Gibson arrived. Now I’m reading the Facebook posts of a belly dance friend who just gave birth to a gorgeous little girl. And it’s like reading my own blog posts from those early days of motherhood.
“She won’t sleep anywhere but on me.”
“I wasted money buying the Arms Reach Co-Sleeper.”
And the classic, “She slept all the time in the hospital, but now she won’t!”
Recently Gibson has just started to sleep for five hours at a stretch. And when I say recently, I mean Monday and Tuesday night. Last night he woke up every 1.5 to 2 hours because of teething. Poor baby. And he went on a mini-nursing strike apparently because of it. But that’ll probably have to be another post.
What I’m getting at is that Gibson just hit the six month mark and is only now showing signs that he’s even capable of sleeping for five hours consecutively. If I had read more of that book, I might have had more realistic expectations about newborn sleep. And better coping strategies.
Thankfully one thing has come instinctively to me: oozing. I can ooze with the best of ’em. I know when Gibs has finally, really, truly fallen asleep. When that happens, I can scooch away from his little body so stealthfully, I make jaguars look clumsy. I make snakes look like uncoordinated coils of muscle. Sloths have got nothing on how slowly I can peel myself away from a sleeping baby and tiptoe away into the night. I am a shadow!
Oozing becomes a key weapon in your arsenal when co-sleeping. If baby will only sleep with you, there will come a time when you have to do something while he’s still asleep. Like go to the bathroom. Though you will find you can hold your bladder much longer than you knew. Anyway, Sweet Sleep mentions the art of the ooze too. And now I can’t get that phrase out of my head.
Did I mention that Gibs only slept for 1.5 hour stretches last night? Because that’s how this post reads now that I’m looking it over. Like maybe I didn’t’ get much sleep last night. Well anyway, take this for what it is. More unsolicited advice about babies and sleep and stuff. And do what you’re going to do anyway. Follow your gut. I wonder if anyone would notice if I took a nap during my lunch break today?
BONUS: I can’t get this song out of my head either. ALL THE RIGHT JUNK IN ALL THE RIGHT PLACES!
The so-called experts have taken something as natural as having a child and turned it into a harsh, cold experiment. Don’t listen to the “experts,” – listen to your baby and your heart. : )
I have SO much empathy for you. SO much. I just wrote a post on my 15 month old’s sleep. Like, WHO IS THIS CHILD? She went to bed at 6:15pm last night and slept straight until 6:30 this morning. How?! How has this happened?! I went through a year of sleep deprivation TORTURE. 4 hour stretches were amazing stretches of sleep for me. And the people who have kids that just naturally sleep through the night, well, it’s just how they are. They didn’t do anything special to create it. And I think you’re doing wonderfully and giving Gibs everything he needs! Hang in there. It really absolutely 100% gets better.