Thursday, January 29, 2015

The way of No Way

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.


Anonymous said...

I have a friend who sleeps with the baby in their bed. Apparently there's a proper way to do it that will protect the baby. She's on #12, so she must know!

Blessings on your new adventure!


Hilde said...

I think having children teaches you a lot of things. One is to do something you were absolutely sure you would never do - another one is to stand up to family and friends who tell you should never do it!

Melissa Mobley said...

My son was the same way! I would try to lay him in his crib after rocking him to sleep and he would instantly wake up also. He slept with us and we all enjoyed good sleep.

Marie-Eve said...

I hadn't been here in a while and this is the first I hear of this new baby! Congratulations, I am so happy for you. :) I will keep on catching up now :)

Tracey McBride ~ Frugal Luxuries® said...

Congratulations on the birth of your son! I've been reading your blog since before your first child was born and it's been a pleasure! Your writing is lovely. I always leave your blog inspired, appreciative and better for having visited. Thank you for sharing your thoughts and ideas.
Tracey said...

You are such a sweet mother.

Thursday's Child said...

My oldest was like that. We started co-sleeping because it was the only way to get sleep. Or I could sleep if DH wanted to walk all night holding him like a football. ;)

Anonymous said...

Hi Anna,
I'm surprised that the nurses told you to not put the baby in your baby. In the hospital where i gave birth, the nurses would always say that there were more than 300 babies nd none of them wanted to sleep in the bassiner at night, even if they would stay there quite happily during the day, so they helped the new mothers with extra pillows and stuff like that to find a comfortable and safe position to sleep.
As to me, i'm a big fan of the side bed, i think it's very convenient!
Love to you and bb Israel!

Leah Brand-Burks said...

You are so right! Babies need that closeness and some of them are just much more vocal about it from the start. I will tell you this, you will NEVER regret snuggling close during these early months this way. They will some of the dearest memories of him as a baby. :)

Lady Anne said...

Many's the night I collapsed with my daughter asleep on my chest, both of us worth to a frazzle. I often nursed lying down - the hospital where I had my oldest wouldn't allow mothers to sit up - and sometimes we'd drift off together, but I was more afraid of the baby falling out of the bed than I was rolling over on her.

I know it's the fashion now to put babies on their backs, but mine always slept much more soundly on their tummies, in a fetal position. In fact, putting them on their backs got the same reaction Israel gives you - a screaming fit.

It is your baby. Do as you see fit, and disregard all the "experts" - including me!

G-d bless you all.

Anonymous said...

Hi dear....
After the delivery for 3 months, we need to completely lie down as far as possible. Sitting is a strict NO-NO in India. Once our backbone is back to its original state(it was carrying a weight for 9 months) you can do whatever you want. Every woman completely take rest whenever possible for first 3 months after delivery, so that we dont get backache when we get old. Its interesting that even after having 2 babies before u r not aware of this!

MamaF said...

Anna I Have five children,with the first four ( now 14,12,12,11) I was very strict with the fact that they had to sleep in their own bed. I struggled for years, one of my twins kept waking up crying several times each night until he was three.With the fifth child I told myself NO WAY and I started the co-sleeping adventure. It made my life ( and nursing ) much easier. And during the day I used to put him in a sling, another winning choice.

Anonymous said...

My little girl (born in July ~ our 2nd child) was like that! I found that I could put her on our mattress at the very head of the bed, between my husband's and my pillows (lying parallel to us). That way, she was up high enough that the covers wouldn't accidentally end up over her face and we couldn't roll on her. It was the only way I got any sleep some nights.
She is now 6 months old, and sleeps in her crib...she is far too social to share a bed with anyone at this stage. :)
Congratulations on the birth of your son ~ and blessings on you and your sweet family.

S Duray said...

Hi Anna,
I live in the US, and we co-slept with both our girls when they were newborns. We didn't have a bedside bassinet, but used the one that set on top of our bed, usually between the two of us. The co-sleeper as it was called, had semi-rigid sides that protected the baby.

Jamie said...

Hi Anna,
I found I got so much more sleep by co-sleeping with our children. And learning to feed then lying down was such a relief!
I hope things are going well at your home.

Lindsay said...

I have been looking for your blig for nearly a year after switching computers and found it! Mazol Tov on the safe arrival of Israel! We coslept with all 4 of ours for the same reason! Sleep! Off to start reading and catching up!