Thursday, July 10, 2014

The "C" Word

My daughter wakes me up at 5:30 every morning by blowing raspberries.

This morning, she really got her technique down. Tongue out between the lips and all. (Her previous raspberries had been just with her lips.) Clearly a very important milestone.

The reason this quiet sound wakes me up? Because she sleeps beside me. In the bed. Attack me now.

Here's what works for me and my husband: We put her to sleep in her own room at 8 pm every night. She goes down without a problem. It's glorious. When and if she sleeps all night, she stays in her crib the whole time. But when she wakes up at 1 AM or 2 AM or 3 AM, she comes to bed with me to nurse. And there we stay, side by side. She stirs and I start nursing her again. This repeats until 5:30, when her stirring isn't quelled by the breast, her little hands start flailing around, she coos and blows raspberries. I wake up smiling, and so does she.

I sleep lightly. I'm still nursing. My husband and I share a king-size (very firm) mattress. He's usually on the other side of the bed. One exception: The night his arm came within inches of my daughter. I somehow woke up out of nowhere and stopped his arm before it could touch her. Biology is working well in my home.

I wouldn't call myself an all-out co-sleeper, but really, why not? To avoid the stigma? I'm a half-co-sleeper. And we can just round up. I can present the familiar arguments that appear everywhere on message boards and blogs in support of co-sleeping—if you're not a drunk or exhausted out of your mind, it's perfectly safe to have baby in a big, firm, safe bed. SIDS used to be called Crib Death because it happens in cribs.

Just a couple of weeks ago, a woman in my community lost her daughter to SIDS. She was about the same age as my daughter, healthy. She put her down for a nap in her crib. When she checked on her, she wasn't breathing. Babies die in family beds when they're suffocated by blankets, pillows, other children or pets. Babies die in beds because of SIDS and babies die in cribs because of SIDS.

But really, all the arguing is useless. All you need to know is that it works for my family and is safe for my daughter. And you should feel free to follow your instincts and practice sleep habits that (safely) work for you and your family.

I think the more natural and instinctual a responsible and loving mother is allowed and encouraged to be, the happier the mama and the happier the baby.

But I'm no expert. I'm just a mama with a baby who wakes her up by blowing raspberries and smiling. I'll be damned if I'm going to give that up.

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