Sunday, September 27, 2009

Sleeping Seperate....

What a weird feeling.

As everyone probably already knows, I have been defying the leading research on SIDS safety and sleeping curled up with my child.
On the couch.
The most dangerous place.

Mostly I don't give a shit but I feel I should just put that out there first.

Anyhoo... It's really been a luxurious and memorable bonding experience that brings a tear to my eye just thinking about. There is such a difference between
  • snapping to at the sudden rapid catastrophic failure of your child to maintain REM sleep, where you bolt to their bedside, nurse/burp/rock them, groggily stumble them to their bed, and collapse back on your pillow while simultaneously mumbling "I don't know how many more times I can do that" and "gotta fall back asleep gotta fall back asleep gotta fall back asleep before they wake up again" (if they fell back asleep).... AND
  • semi consciously sensing a snuggly creature squirming at your chest, finding her milkies and nursing for all of two minutes before drifting back to sleep without so much as a peep.
 We do the latter and it's wonderful! She nurses probably three times in the course or a night, and that's if we stay cuddled until 9am. Sometimes she cries, sure. Sometimes she makes a fuss and doesn't fall asleep right away, absolutely. But the overall pie chart is heavenly Angel Lizzie with only a few infinitesimal one-point-Weight-Watchers pieces of Demon Lizzie pie that don't even count. (MMMmmmm Pie.....)

On top of that, she is the poster child for "Morning Person". I don't know where she gets it from because I lack the gene that allows me to come out of bitch mode before at least 2 cups of coffee, a bathroom break and about an hour of uninterrupted personal time. Stephen, bless his soul, is not a morning person by a minor technical disqualification: he only rises after noon. (Defining his morning personality is like dividing by zero; it's undefined.) Lizzie on the other hand (having either received 2 recessive genes by the both of us or a rather large dose of radiation in utero), is 100% Gerber-baby commercial-worthy perfection as soon as those beautiful baby lashes part ways and her ever inquisitive baby blues take in the new day. Can you believe it?

When she finally decides her beauty rest is complete, she wriggles and scrunches and grunts for about 5 minutes, farts like a man a few times, blinks her eyes while smacking her lips, lets out a wide exaggerated yawn and smiles at me. The look on her face is priceless...

"Good morning, Mommy :) I think that after my morning milk and some fresh britches, we should marvel at how precious I am and then go outside and make daisy-chain necklaces whilst singing with the birds and enjoying the glorious sunshine. Isn't this morning the grandest morning of all time. I love you."

Or some sappy crap like that. I swear. That Milk Monster's attitude in the morning is all puppies and kitties and rainbows and I look you in the eye when I tell you that SOMETIMES I wonder if she is genetically related to me in any way.

Now if STEPHEN came all sideways at me with that poop first thing in the morning, I would belittle him until he regretted being born, possibly cause bodily injury to him and glare incessantly at him until all 12 ounces of my coffee went coursing into my bloodstream. But LIZZIE wakes up all dreamy eyed and optimistic and I melt like cheap makeup in the sun. When she smiles, I want to lick her face off she is so delicious. Somehow I get a contact high from her and my whole creaky cranky body defrosts into warm gooey pile of good-morning-to-you-too. Her grins from ear to ear somehow exert a gravitational pull on my facial muscles and I too grin ear to ear; resistance is futile.

Waking up with Lizzie on the couch is the single redeeming event of my current stint in motherhood. It is the instant my mind clicks over to a new day. Yesterday's stress falls away. My confidence is refilled. I believe I can retain my hold on reality and sanity another day. Let's do this!

 The steadfast love of the LORD never ceases,
his mercies never come to an end;
they are new every morning; 
great is thy faithfulness
Lamentations 3:22-23

I do not care that people wag their fingers and shake their heads and judge me. "You are setting her up for failure. She will never sleep on her own." I am sure cavemen sat around the campfire late at night and snatched Neanderthal babies from their Mommy's boobies and grunted "no no dat baby sleep over dere where saber tooth tiger can get to her easier yet we can teach her to sleep on her own and not bother my 8 hours of sleep so I can function at the office tomorrow"

Call me selfish or naive but I need her sweet morning face just as much as she needs the milk I make for her. It's how she is stealing little bits of my heart every day so that she can tug on their strings in future and save herself from being annihilated when she does wrong. I love how, even knowing that, I look her squarely in the face and allow her precious baby roots to dig deeper and deeper holds on my heart. My angel, how could I not!?

That's why it makes me so sad that she is learning to sleep separate from me. I have not yet tired of her needing me for survival. Her cries sometimes, but not her dependence on me. I'm sure I would feel different if she was a clingy 2 year old or an inconsolable colicky monster, but the every day need for Mommy clearly denotes my place in the universe. To lose one of these demands on me, well, I'm taking it hard. I'm just not ready :(

Falling asleep on her own at nap time?
Preciously glorious rite of passage from one milestone to the next.
Praise Jesus.

Falling asleep by herself in the pack n play at night night time?
Gut-wrenching, nerve-racking, sorrowful first exercise in letting my baby have the room to grow into the future well-adjusted woman she will become.


Last night she went in the damn thing and did not wake for her 2am nursing. I was up of course. That's pretty much the extent of my personal time. I steal it begrudgingly from my sleep time. But back to Lizzie... I waited and paced and wondered if I should dare disrupt her slumber. By 3am, I was completely exhausted and knew 6am would come quickly and brutally. I couldn't figure out how to optimize the series of tasks I had to perform: wake her, feed her, diaper, sleep. Feed her before diaper so she wouldn't scream herself completely awake? Or diaper first so I didn't have to wake her up when she finished eating and drifted off? It was impossible to chose yet I had to have a game plan prior to acting. Ack!

Suddenly my left side of my brain slapped the right side of my brain:
Left: Just leave her there!
Right: But I'm so tired :(
Left: I know. Leave her there. Go lay down. Sleep.
Right: Wait, I'm sorry, say again?
Left: She sleeps here. You on the couch. Everyone wins.
Right: But what if she needs me?!
Left: She'll cry for you.
Right: What if I don't hear her?!
Left: Oh, you'll hear her.
Right: What if she gets lonely?!
Left: Wait, what.... you mean YOU get lonely?
Right: Well yeah... but still....
Left: Let it go. She is ready to sleep on her own at night now.

I just stood there, speechless. My baby, only two months old, sleeping by herself? At night? Without me?

I hung my head with sorrow. I crawled onto the couch and set the sleep timer on the TV. Nothing on the boob tube. I can't relax because I can't hear her, for God's sake. What if my helpless immobile bundle of joy is, at this very moment, wide awake in horror, wondering where she is and why I abandoned her. What if somehow she rolls over or squishes her face into the side padding and can't catch her breath. What if the ceilng fan breaks away from the sheet-rock and hurtles a blade across the room and into the pack n play, smacking her in the forehead (HEY! Stranger things have happened! In this house, even!).

The left side of my brain reassured the right side:
"Everything will be OK. This is healthy. Separation is good for her and better for you. She has to learn."

...and then the right side of my brain round house kicked the left side in the FACE and kneed him in the balls... "Shut up..."

I leapt from the couch with a quivering lip and moist eyes. Literally. Exhaustion and coming down from a massive caffeine high will take you to an emotional place.

Momma's coming Sweetheart!
One diaper change pit stop later and I was snuggled with my Milk Monster on the sofa. She was noisily nursing and I was soaking in her intoxicating baby aroma."Good job Honey. Mama is so proud of you; sleeping like a big girl in your pack n play, but I'm not running you out of my bed just yet. Unless you really want to leave...."
(She didn't say anything back so I took that as a "I wanna cuddle with you too, Mommy!")

She can grow up tomorrow....
or the next day...

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