Monday, May 16, 2011

(Not) Sleeping as a Family

When Benjamin came home, Ella had been sleeping in our bed for at least half the night, more nights than not. So, with the baby sleeping in the bassinet next to our bed, we found ourselves spending at least half the night with four people in bed. And while I loved the idea of everyone snuggling in close and feeling safe and secure, what I didn't love was the amplified snoring that I found myself listening to at 12, 3, and 6 am. To make matters worse, my son was a grunter. He grunted and groaned all night long, adding a strange cacophonous melody to Mike and Ella's rattles, rumbles, and snorts.
Since the lactation consultants at the hospital had me terrified I would miss a hunger cue and allow Ben to get too worked up to eat, I misinterpreted every grunt, groan, and sniffle I heard that first week as a hunger cue. My sweet, mellow, go-with-the-flow baby went with it, and dutifully nursed every time I woke him up. Which, I realized, was exactly what I was doing: waking him up. Because I was already awake, listening to the throaty musical in my bed, I was hypersensitive to the noises he was making. Instead of waiting until he was truly awake to snatch him out of the bassinet and bring him into bed with the rest of us, I was preemptively feeding and changing him. In thinking about the way I'd reacted to Ella when she came home, I now realize why she didn't sleep through the night for two years--because I wouldn't let her!
Determined to do things differently this time, we started talking to Ella about how it was time for everyone to get back to sleeping in his/her own bed. I warned her that when Ben was big enough to sleep in his crib in his room, Ella would need to go back to sleeping in her own bed all night long as well. So, wistfully, after three weeks home, baby Ben was sent off to his room to sleep. Of course he was still waking up every two to three hours to eat, but at least now I slept in between each feeding--and did a better job of waiting until he cried to get him out of bed. Like Ella did as a baby, though, he cries intermittently while still fully asleep, so I still feel like I am ready to get him before he is ready to be gotten. And I still don't know what a full cry sounds like, despite having him home for over a month now.
When grandma came to visit, I worried that Ella would jump at the chance to regress and jump back into our bed the first chance she got, so we set up her trundle bed in our room, on the other side of the bassinet, which we hadn't yet moved from the room. For the few days that grandma visited, we all returned to the family bedroom, and yet somehow we all slept better, perhaps because we knew it was only a temporary arrangement.

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