Monday, July 18, 2011

Catching Some Zees. Or Zeds, Where I'm From.

The other half of my last blog post draft that was mysteriously deleted was about sleep.  And lack thereof.  One of the most pleasant surprises of parenting a newborn the second time around is that I'm getting more sleep!  I started out with baby T. sleeping beside our bed in a charming antique bassinet that my mom found in my grandmother's basement.  Well, truth be told, the first night home from the hospital, he actually slept on a chair for part of the night.  I know, don't tell the public health nurses about that one!  I started out the night with T. in the bassinet part of the playpen.  The playpen is much to big to ride sidecar beside our bed though, so after getting up about four hundred times to check on him, I retreated to the couch in the living room with the chair pulled up flush to the couch.  Not the best idea, in hindsight, but the chair is firm and has breathable wicker or caning sides on it.  If he had managed to move at all, the only place to move was directly into my face.  The bassinet arrived the next day, and worked well for a few weeks.
Then, at about six weeks old, I discovered that I had some physical trauma from his birth after all, and was pretty much immobile for a week.  That's a whole different story involving getting to know my local urologist.  Fun times.  Oh, the things our bodies go through to bring children into this world...that we generally don't talk about.  I couldn't face the prospect of getting up and down to feed T. in the night, so I decided to give co-sleeping a try.  I knew that our queen-sized bed is much too soft to be safe for a newborn, so I moved O. into the playpen in our room, and T. and I slept in his "big boy bed" bunk beds in his room.  Much to my delight, I had the best sleep in months.  It is infinitely easier to nurse laying down than to sit up and try to stay fully awake for feedings!  Perhaps it's my imagination, but I think T. started sleeping longer and better as well.  He wiggles and thrashes his little limbs around until he is snuggled up next to me, and then he's out like a light.  I think he's only waking once a night for a feed, around 4:00 a.m.  It works so well that we've kept this arrangement going for the time being.  It's a little unorthodox, but it seems to be working.  I just feel badly that we worked on getting O. out of his crib and into his big boy bed for so long, and now he's been evicted from that bed!  Now he's sleeping on the crib mattress on the floor next to the big bed, so I get to hear all the cute things he says in his sleep.  Last night he was talking about pumpkins.  He probably thought that Halloween was coming soon with all this Fall-like summer weather we've been having!
I wish that I had given bed-sharing a better try when O. was a baby.  I was seriously exhausted for much of his first year of life.  I eventually put a camping mat on the floor on his room as a last resort because I was worried about how many times I fell asleep sitting in the rocking chair, nursing him.  I would wake up in a panic that I had dropped him or smothered him in my sleep, not to mention the fact that my neck was in a state of permanent kink from all that sleeping sitting up.  I thought that co-sleeping wasn't "safe" according to public health, so I didn't really make an effort to make it work comfortably.  Sleeping on an inch-thick camping mat is not much more comfortable than sitting up, so I was jubilant when he finally started sleeping through the night at seventeen months old.  I pretty much always went to him when he cried in the night.  We tried the "cry it out" method once and I don't think I even lasted five minutes.  I quickly realized that I would be crying it out too if I had to lay there and listen to him cry.  I'm not going to judge other people who are comfortable with that, but I just couldn't handle that approach.  Still, I wish I could have tried co-sleeping with him so he didn't need to cry in the first place.  With T., we somehow wake at the same time when he's ready to feed, and I can't remember the last time he cried in the night.
In one of my first post-natal appointments with my midwife, she talked about the benefits of co-sleeping, and ways to co-sleep safely.  When I gave it a try for myself, I decided to do a little more reading about what she had mentioned.  After digging into it, though no sleep environment can be without any risk, I feel confident that sharing a bed can be just as safe, if not even safer, than having baby sleep on his or her own, in terms of SIDS prevention.  In the end, I just have to do my best to make sure the babes are safe, and go to sleep myself.  I don't know how long we will co-sleep for, but with all the changes going on in our lives right now, at least I'm getting a decent sleep!
Rather than duplicate all the information about safe sleeping here, I'll leave you with some links if you are interested in finding out more.
this blog, thanks to this friend for the link! article

How about you?  How does your family sleep?  Thoughts on co-sleeping?

In other news, we've had several showings of our house so far, but no offers yet.  I'm kind of attached to this house; it's strange to imagine another family living in our home.  At the same time, I'm getting excited about eventually finding a new home and making it our own.  When I was young, perhaps seven or eight, my parents did some renovations in the basement involving putting up a new wall.  Before the wall was sealed up, we drew pictures and wrote little notes about our family and our lives and stuck them into the hole incase anyone ever took down that wall and found our little souvenirs.  Perhaps I should find somewhere in this house to leave a note about the inhabitants of this home for the past five years.  Our first home, where we moved the week we lost our first baby at fourteen weeks pregnancy, and later brought our two boys home from the hospital.  Our adventures as landlords of the basement suite and our bitter battles with the neighbourhood cats who poop on the roof of our shed, and the neighbourhood rat who tried to move into the shed.  Hmmm...I hope any potential buyers aren't reading that part.  Don't worry, the rat will not be back.


  1. Good luck with the sale of your house! Showings are no fun, saying goodbye is sad, but setting up house in a new home is so fun. =) Hysterical about the neighbor cats and the rat story!!!

    Good links on cosleeping, those are the resources I trust, too. We try and make it the safest we can, and balance practicality with safety. I don't know how other mommas do it, getting up and sitting up night after night: I hardly wake up to lift up my shirt....although i dont have to do it much now, with Amarys sleeping til 7 and Riley sometimes wandering in at 4 or 5, or sometimes at 7 or 8...
    each family works out what is best for them! It sounds like you have a good solution (better than the thermarest, anyways!! lol!).

    If God had intended us not to sleep with our babies, why would he make oxytocin put us to sleep, and warm milk put them to sleep? Seems like fighting a losing battle, IMO! Why fight nature so hard? Sleeping close is protective. Sharing a bed is practical.
    We have a king sized mattress and queen sized pillows, so there is a spot between us that is the perfect fit for a baby, with air flow and away from the blankets and pillows. When I nurse on the other side I angle the baby so it can't roll off the bed, and stick my butt on Brent's side of the bed which of course he actually loves and never protests. =) If I have two in bed with me, one goes on either side of me so no one smothers anyone else! And the baby sleeps in a sleep sack so she doesn't need a blanket. There are lots of great ways to do it, and lots of safe ways. There's also lots of vigilatism (sp?) out there on both sides....
    much of the research public health relies on is research that has been funded by crib manufacturers. Surprise, they found cribs to be superior.

    Good post! I'm glad you have found a sleeping arrangement that keeps you rested!

    Sorry about the urology issues. =(

  2. Good point about our natural inclination for mommas and babies to fall asleep while nursing - I hadn't really thought about that but it seems so obvious now that we were designed for that!
    I was so shocked (but the cynical side of me was sadly not shocked) when I found out too that most of the safety data comes from research provided by crib manufacturers. Wow, you don't even have to be a conspiracy theorist to wonder about that one. We're planning on getting a new bed when we move so that I can actually sleep next to my husband again, lol! I'm hoping our new place will have enough space for a king size bed - sounds wonderful!


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