You’ll notice a lot of my posts begin with the words “Before we had Seabass, we thought….” Why not add another to the pile?
No offense, but BEFORE WE HAD SEABASS, WE THOUGHT people who did “the family bed” were hippie Phish-listening weirdos. (Really, no offense.) There is that amazing scene in “Away We Go” where Maggie Gyllenhaal’s character describes the importance of a “continuum” from inside the womb to outside the womb which includes a bed for the whole family. So…we basically didn’t want to be like that. Just the crib for this here Seabass. Yup, yup.
“Ha ha ha!” said God. “This will be the first in a series of many preconceived ideas which I will dash to the ground.”
The first night home from the hospital with our boy was rough. I would do my best to soothe him to sleep for about 30 to 45 minutes before laying him down ever so gently. But from his reaction to being placed in the crib, you’d think his sheets were burning hot baby-melting lava. He just wouldn’t have it. I’d try this for hours to no avail.
It was undeniable at this point that C preferred falling asleep close to my body. Since he fell asleep almost immediately while nursing, I finally became so loony that I decided it was perfectly reasonable to sit in the rocking chair with him at the breast all night long. Parenting’s all about sacrifice, right? I thought. So for several nights, I sacrificed. Until I woke up one morning with C drooping halfway out of my arms and saw that my ankles had swelled to the size of tree trunks. Perhaps this is the wrong kind of sacrifice? I wondered.
Now, if I was reasonably anti-family bed before having C, Jake was violently anti-bed. So it took a lot of courage to come to him with my little request. When I asked if Seabass could share the bed with us, his mind raced forward to imagine our baby as a fifteen year-old who still cuddles up between us every night. “For how long?” was his first question.
“I don’t know, until we see if it helps.”
“Hey man, I’m the one with the elephant ankles. Can we just try it?”
Since my husband is a loving, caring man, he said yes with the caveat that we re-assess at the one-month mark.
There was still one major issue to resolve: our bed. We have slept in the full-sized bed I grew up with for the majority of our marriage because 1) it was free, 2) it’s pretty and I care about that sort of thing, and 3) we own sheets that fit it. I’m aware that many people who try family bed are afraid of rolling over their newborns while sleeping, but frankly, I was more afraid that one of us adults would roll off the bed than onto the baby. We tried family bed on the full-sized mattress for two nights, but neither Jake nor I slept much more than a wink.
It must have worked somewhat like sleep deprivation torture because on that third morning Jake woke up and announced that we were going to buy a brand new big bed. I can’t emphasize enough how out of character this was for Jake. No offense to my wonderful husband, but he is very cheap. For him to buy a new bed so that the baby could sleep in it with us made me wonder if he was feeling alright. But I jumped on the opportunity nonetheless. Yay for new furniture! Yay! Yay!
The new queen-sized bed, mattress and box springs arrived just a few short hours later from a discount furniture place in town, and Jake scrambled to get the old bed out and the new bed in quickly thereafter. To our surprise, the first night in the new bed was almost equally difficult as in the full-sized, though, as C grunted in that half-awake, half-asleep gassy state from sundown to sunrise.
“At least we have more space,” I reasoned.
“Yeah, but I don’t even feel like we’re allowed to enjoy our new bed,” lamented Jake.
The next night I assumed would be like the handful of nights before. I nursed C in bed and then laid him as deftly and quietly as possible between Jake and I so that he could hopefully fall asleep. But no. With my first move, he writhed and cried. Here we go again, I thought. Jake had been seeming a bit zombie-ish from a lack of sleep lately, so I decided to bring C with me into the nursery to put a few walls between his crying and Jake’s ears.
I soothed and rocked and swung and bounced Seabass until I feared my arms might collapse. But when he finally conked, I had this silly notion that maybe, just maybe, he’d sleep in the crib. Call it my first case of mother’s intuition.
And wouldn’t you know it? That cheeky little bugger slept five hours in the crib that night. He hasn’t enjoyed our brand new family bed since. But I’ll take it. I’ve got a kid who loves to sleep in his own room and a new swingin’ piece of furniture.
ADDENDUM: Not two minutes after I wrote this, a friend posted this article on Facebook. What timing!