Your children make you do things you never thought you’d do.
It can be climbing into your house through the bathroom window after a three-year-old had locked herself in. It can be hosting a pajama party, getting a dog, or any of the “No Ways” you had told yourself before you had children.
In Israel’s case, it’s co-sleeping. I’ve always been against it; never done it, never intended to. It’s just that I have this preferred way of sleeping which involves curling up on my stomach and pulling the blanket tightly all around me and over my head, and it just doesn't work if there’s a baby in bed with me. With the girls, I would of course get up during the night to nurse, but I’d do that sitting up in bed and then put them back in their crib.
On the second night after Israel was born, I realized it just isn't going to work this way with him. Needless to say, I was very much in need of rest, and after I had nursed him and he was dozing peacefully on my chest, I slowly got up and gently put him in his bassinet, which was standing next to my hospital bed.
Instantly, he began to howl.
I repeated this process multiple times throughout the night, as the nurses strictly warned me against sleeping with the baby in my bed. Thankfully it wasn't a Shabbat night, so I could browse through some websites on my iPhone to keep me from dozing off.
Close to three o’clock in the morning, I nearly let the baby drop from my arms because I fell asleep sitting up. I began to pray. “Dear G-d,” I said, “please let me put this baby down, even for one hour, so I can be refreshed enough to keep taking care of him.” G-d listened to my prayers. At 5 AM, I was finally able to put the exhausted baby in his bassinet, staggered to my bed and immediately fell into deep sleep.
At six, I was woken by the resident nurse who came to take my blood pressure. I cried.
Thankfully, the baby kept sleeping through the morning, so I was able to catch up on some rest. Later that day, I spoke to a lactation consultant who soothed my concerns, told me it’s normal for newborns to nurse continually throughout their second night, and that it will help my milk “come in”. My milk did come in, and big time, but it didn't help me get Israel to sleep in his crib when we came home. It seemed that during the day, he didn't care where we put him – but during the night, he only wanted to be in my arms. To top it all off, sitting up in bed for so many hours gave me back pains.
On our first night back home, when I once more continued my heroic efforts of nursing while sitting up and trying to put him in his crib time after time, my husband said sleepily, “give him here.” I did. He put the baby on his chest and dozed off, and so did I. As far as baby was concerned, Dad was just as good as Mom; he simply wanted to be sleeping with someone. Of course, two hours later he woke and started looking for milk.
“Why don’t you try to nurse him lying down?” asked my husband.
At my wits’ end, I decided to try it. That night, I came to the conclusion that, though sleeping and nursing didn’t give me the deep, thoroughly refreshing sleep I craved, it’s still better than not sleeping at all.
When I thought about it, I realized how natural it is for a newborn to desire this closeness to his parents. I sleep better next to my husband; my two daughters will often climb into bed together and sleep that way, squeezed tightly side by side. This baby had spent nine months in the womb, where he got used to hearing my heartbeat and voice. There is nothing more natural for him than to seek the warmth and comfort of his mother. So my first two babies were “convenient” enough to let me sleep the way I’m used to; this time, I’m in a position to adjust my attitude.