Sunday, July 10, 2011

Making Our Own Monsters

With very little exception, I believe that--when it comes to our children--we make our own monsters.  I'm reminded of this as I begin the difficult task of sleep training my ten-month-old baby.

Charleigh's never slept in a crib.  She has slept (a small amount) by my bedside, in her infant car seat, and very recently (a small amount) in a Pack N Play at the foot of my bed.  But, mostly, she's slept in my arms.

I could tell you that Charleigh suffered from acid reflux as a newborn and didn't sleep well flat on her back, also that, until recently, her sister occupied the crib, and those things would be true.  But truer, still, would be the fact that--regardless of circumstances--I sleep with my children, when they are babies.  Yes, yes, I do. 

And I. love. it.  I make no apologies for it, even to my husband, who jokes that we are on birth control called "Charleigh Evangeline."

My favorite thing, hands down, about being the mother of a tiny being is sleeping curled up next to him or her, and--should the Lord bless me with another baby--I will sleep with him or her, too.  It's what I do.  I nurse on demand, throughout naptime and nighttime, and I don't bother to rise from bed to do it...although I do keep the baby on the outside of the bed, so we sleep, very often, with our heads at the foot of the bed.

Clementine, a roller and thrasher, underwent sleep training at about nine months and has been sleeping on her own ever since.  Charleigh, though, sleeps perfectly still in my arms (just as her brother did), and I would continue to postpone her sleep training except I have to lie down with her for nap and--when I don't want to nap--feel stuck, because it's become dangerous to leave her, alone, in my bed.  She's more sleep-spoiled than either of her siblings were, and that's saying something, because Cade didn't sleep through the night until he was four years old.

But I'm not complaining, because I've done it, and I wouldn't undo it even if given the opportunity, and I'll fix it (although maybe not today, because Charleigh is sleeping with her head in my lap as I type this), and--if given the opportunity--I'll do it, and fix it!, just the same with another baby.

Understand: I'm not pretending my way is the way for anyone but me, but my way is the only way for me, and I'm glad to know it and feel confident in it.  And I guess, if hard pressed, I would tell you: God selected, for me, three beings who needed slept with for nigh about a year and breastfed for several months more.  Because some of my mothering feels awkward and even intimidating, but sleeping with and breastfeeding, for those lengths of time, feel exactly right.

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