December 2, 2011

Slumbering with Baby.

This may sound crazy to a lot of co-sleeping moms, but last night was the first time I've ever slept in a bed with my daughter, now 20 months. Her dad has been out of town on business all week but is coming home tonight so I knew this was my last opportunity to stage a slumber party with her. And? Oh, I so loved it. I slept not so well, but I feel like I got to know a whole other part of this little person: how vigorously she sucks on her pacifier at night, how often she turns and shifts her feet, the sighs of her deepest sleep. And once, in the very middle of the night, she curled against me, her fingers pressed at the nape of my neck.

I've always been mesmerized by the sight of Tessa sleeping, in the car or in her crib, when I do my nightly sneaking in to check on her and cover her up. When awake, she's so juiced with energy, always cocking one sassy eyebrow, contorting her lips to form shrieks heard round the world or squinting her gray eyes to allow more room on her face for that beatific, toothy smile. It's hard to fathom how all that energy can pool out of her long enough to sleep as soundly as she does.

I've tried to have her sleep in our bed before. Since the beginning, really, but I embarked on a post-partum loony-tunes episode soon after we brought her home from the hospital and actually ended up "sleeping" downstairs for the first week or two of her life while her Dad slept with her beside him in her bassinet upstairs. He would bring her downstairs for me to nurse her when she cried and he'd ask, "Have you gotten any sleep?" And I would look up at him, with terror and desperation, and shake my head no. All I had done was lie awake and panic and then panic more about panicking. And it hadn't been because she'd been crying, although she did plenty of that, but because I was scared shitless about being a new mother (and because my hormones were being total assholes to my mind and body). I still don't understand it, especially because I'm a pretty laid-back mom these days. But, in any case, it got my relationship with sleep and new motherhood off on a terrible foot.

Still, I always loved the idea of co-sleeping, mostly, but just knew it wasn't for me. I'm a light sleeper and I don't really like to be touched at all while I'm asleep, much to my snuggly husband's dismay. I've tried at various times, though, to coax Tessa into our bed, but I went about it all wrong, rousing her from sleep in her crib and bringing her into my bed, causing a meltdown that only subsided when I eased her back into her own crib. I'm so happy that my girl loves her bed, but doesn't every mom want to hold her child in her arms all night, at least once? Last night I tried a new approach. Tessa was being adamant about not getting into her bed and so I asked her if she wanted to watch a movie with me in my bed. She was so down with that. So we watched a quarter of a movie and I kept edging the volume down as she wilted. Within 45 minutes, I had a sleeping Tessa on my hands. Well, actually, on my head. She literally fell asleep with her body stretched across my head. I didn't care. I thought it was terrific. But I did end up moving her.

When the sun came up and began pouring through the curtains in my bedroom, I moved her into her room, which is outfitted with black-out curtains, and we both slept until 9 a.m. SCORE. Anyway, it was just a special (belated) "first" that I wanted to document here.