I've been wanting to write on this for several months. Probably since the first week of Eilidh's life when I thought it would be a good idea for me to continue to do bedtime with Whit while allowing Eilidh and daddy to have some late night binding time. A few steps up and not yet three year old Whit asked "Mommy, aren't you bringing Eilidh?" He had obviously gotten the message that Mommy and baby are an inseparable unit. And thus began the new normal bedtime routine. Basically, it consisted of exactly what we were doing before, plus one. But in all seriousness, Eilidh had been participating in the bedtime routine from her first consciousness. She enjoyed reading bedtime stories as much in the third trimester as she seems to now and she gave Whit his first kick long before we got our first glimpse of her tiny toes.
So what am I getting at? I'm not really sure. But here I am. Awake and waiting as I do most nights, for something to happen.
It's been hours since that regular little "tuff tuff tuff" signaled a sleeping baby. Hours since the last word of the last book was read and the lights turned out. But I know the night isn't over, not quite.
Maybe I'm waiting for the pitter patter of little (by comparison to adult) feet down the hallway announcing Whit's arrival.
Or perhaps it's the "Eh, eh, eh" noise from the monitor at my side that indicates Eilidh has woken up to find that she's no longer nursing and my arms are not around her. Translation? "Hey! Hey! Hey! Mama! Where did you go? Where...where?" I will trudge siren the hall, groggily pick her up and snuggle her up next to me. "Ah...there you are! I thought you had left me forever...mum...mum..."
Bedtime is such a touchy subject. "Is the baby sleeping through the night?" Is often one of the first questions a new mom or dad gets. I try not to ask that preferring instead "are you getting any sleep?" Most babies don't really know much difference between night and day that first week (or month) but I've found that as long as they are near you they will sleep, regardless of the hour.
When Whit was born, we placed him in a basket next to our bed. Thinking, logically, that he would outgrow it in about 6 months, and surely then he would be "sleeping through the night" and we could transition him to his crib in the next room. Defying logic, our baby outgrew the 18 pound weight limit long before 6 months. So we transitioned him to his own room and I got up once, or twice, or three times per night to feed him and put him back to sleep sometimes dozing off in the rocker myself. I'm not sure exactly how I survived.
When Whit was 9 months old I gave in. It was baseball season and I had reached my limit of functioning without sleep. I would nurse him to sleep in our bed and most of the time I would fall asleep also; so we simply stayed. When he was a year old we tried to get him in his own bed. I even took the rail off his crib and made it a "big boy bed." But most nights, again, I would fall asleep with him, wake up aching from being crammed on a crib mattress with a large one year old and would head back to my own comfortable bed and fall asleep just minutes before Whit would realize I was gone and follow me.
It took me a while to ask myself "why do we (modern western parents) think our little babies, whom we can barely leave alone long enough to use the bathroom during the day, are equipped to be without us at night?" Seriously, I am afraid of the dark sometimes, of course a young child who depends on their parents for everything would want to know where they are and want to be near them during the scariest time, night.
I'm not necessarily advocating co sleeping, I'll let the studies speak for themselves. And each of my children have their own rooms and their own beds. But I will be honest because I think we are all living in the same world even if no one says what I'm getting ready to say.
One, or both, of my children end up in bed with me every night. I can't remember the last time I slept without them. I've never spent more than part of the night without Eilidh by my side and frankly I don't sleep well when she's not there. A good night sees us playing musical beds only once and a not so good one sees both parents too tired to switch rooms and four people snuggled into a queen sized bed.
But I love it. I love being the first thing my children see when they open their eyes in the morning. And I love being squished in between two warm bodies as they gently fall asleep with the knowledge that I'm there to protect them. I love leaning down, kissing them gently, extracting myself from the "cuddle" and whispering "good night, sleep tight."