The truth is that I don’t really mind it, and I actually kind of love it. Except for the occasional morning that I wake up with little feet kicking my face, I find contentment and joy in snuggling and nursing through the night with my baby in the guest bed in our office.
Certainly, I miss my husband and sharing a bed with him. And absolutely part of my longs for the return of the eight-hour night of uninterrupted sleep I have enjoyed many nights in the past before my son was born (or really before I was hugely pregnant with him and had to get up frequently to pee).
There was a time, when he was about three or four months old, when Zeke did sleep through the night, or would get up once a night to nurse. That was pretty awesome. Then in October he had surgery, and has subsequently refused to sleep in his crib for more than 30 minutes at a time. As a result, we’ve let him sleep in his car seat, since that was the only place he would sleep for many weeks, and with us. And more often, just with me. It’s easier to fit a baby (who any parent will know actually takes up most of the bed despite his relatively small size) and a grown-up in a double bed than a baby and two grown-ups in a queen size bed. So what happens these days is we put Zeke to bed in his car seat, wedged between pillows, on the floor of the office. The sound of the ocean plays on the iPad. He will sleep there from about 7:30 until 9 or 10 when he needs a snuggle or a pacifier reinsertion or a quick snack. Then he will usually go back to sleep. Then around midnight, he will wake up and demand our attention until he is fed. I have tried on a few occasions to feed him and put him back in the seat. But then I go to bed and invariably he will wake up at 1 or 2 and demand whatever he is demanding and I am too sleepy to thoughtfully discern what it is, so I just take him to bed. Because of this, it’s much more restful just to go to sleep with him when he gets up at midnight. So what happens pretty much every night is that Randy and I are doing whatever we’re doing and we hear him cry, and we will race upstairs so I can brush my teeth and set my alarm and take my vitamins while Randy distracts Zeke, until I’m ready to set up camp in the office. I will feed Zeke until he falls back asleep and I will fall asleep, and we will sleep peacefully together until he wakes up looking for more. The beautiful advantage to this arrangement is that when he wakes up hungry it takes me 30 seconds of being awake to take care of him instead of 30 minutes if I were in my bed and stumbling in the dark to assuage him.
And also he’s very snuggly. When I put him to bed for the evening, or give him naps during the day, he usually starts nursing like a small, fierce, wild animal. He wriggles and writhes. He pulls his hair and scratches his head and pokes himself in the ear. I have no idea why, but he always does. If I try to insert my hand in the midst of his clawing, he bats it away. He does this while he eats, long enough that I begin to think he is not going to ever calm down, until suddenly, in a moment of transcendence, he is calm. He settles down, except for an occasional gentle flail, and finishes his meal in peace. And it’s beautiful. That transition from frenetic energy to contented tranquility is so satisfying.
I know there are many ardent opinions about babies and sleep. Every time I post on Facebook about this topic, parents express their sympathies and their advice. I am not asking for advice here, or approval. I am not–and would never–suggest what works for me is right for anyone else. I am simply expressing that I am thankful that we have an extra bed, my husband waits patiently for my return to our bed, and that our son loves to snuggle with me and eat. I know that he will not be this little for very much longer, and the I will not be nursing him forever, and there will be a time where it is not practical or pleasant anymore. I know we will raise an independent little boy who will one day enjoy his crib and his bed on his own. But right now, at this moment, I know this is a good thing for Zeke and me. I feel so lucky that I can feed him well and show him in this way how much he is loved. And I am sleeping a lot better than I used to.