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Night 9

August 5, 2010

Okay. I think she’s really getting the hang of this. And I’ve come to several realizations, which I’ll expound upon later. Expound upon. That sounds pretentious. But you know what I mean.

She didn’t want to take an afternoon nap yesterday, for some strange and unexplainable reason, so she was extra tired when bedtime rolled around. She fell asleep at 7:45, and only had a few seconds of angry standing. No real yelling or crying. Just some cuddling, lying on my chest, then I watched as she rolled around and around, trying to get comfortable. She finally fell asleep with her head pointed down. She slept great and I came to bed at 10:30 or so. She was all the way at the foot of bed (the bed is on the floor, and there is a railing on the bed and pillows on the floor by the bed where there is no railing), and I knew I needed to pick her up and put her back up top. I was nervous that I’d wake her and she’s be furious, but I managed to move her and she didn’t even stir. She slept solidly until 2 am. I was so tired that I nursed her then. She slept after that until about 4:30, then was sort of nursing off and on all morning after that. She woke up for the morning at around 7.

First, let me say that it’s amazing that when we started this plan she had never really slept more than an hour without needing some nursing or comfort. Now, she can go for almost seven hours. SEVEN HOURS!! That’s amazing! Again, it might not seem that big of a deal to people whose babies sleep uninterrupted for 12 hours at a time, but for us this is huge. Yes, we had some really rough nights, but overall I think this has been a success so far.

Now for the realizations:

1. Amelia moves in her sleep. A lot. I didn’t realize this when we were nursing all night because we were sleeping so close to each other. She’d try to move and hit against me, that would disturb her, and she’d want to nurse. Now, however, I try to give her space at night and she rolls all over the bed in her sleep. She’s able to sleep the longest when she has a lot of room to move around. And I’m able to sleep when I have my own space too.

2. Any sane person would recognize that cosleeping is probably not the right arrangement for a baby who likes to roll all over the place in her sleep and a mom who really likes her own space for sleeping. I have to recognize this, and I have to accept that we might need separate beds. Now that I realize that she can sleep without nursing all night, I feel much more confident that she’ll transition to her own space pretty easily. We have a twin size bed in her room, so I may put that on the floor, put railings on the side and at the foot of the bed, and try to get her used to sleeping there. We don’t have a real crib, just a pack and play, and we’re not sure if we should get one or not. With a twin bed I could cuddle her to sleep if I needed to, then leave so that she can roll around to her heart’s content. When I tried to get her to nap in the pack and play, she hated that she couldn’t touch me or cuddle, or that I couldn’t be close to her when she was upset. And I hated that too. I really love watching how she’s learned to put herself, physically, in a comfortable position for sleep. Andrew and I will discuss the next steps, but I’m pretty sure this blog will turn into Formerly Cosleeping but Now Sleeping Separately Through the Night.

3. Just because I’ve realized that cosleeping may not work best for us, I don’t want you to assume that cosleeping is bad or doesn’t work for anybody. If I’ve learned nothing else from pregnancy and parenthood, it’s that there are myriad methods and what you think is right for you may not actually work. During my pregnancy I was planning on a natural childbirth. I saw an amazing chiropractor who specializes in prenatal care; I went to an acupuncturist whose goal was to help make labor faster; I got massages; I exercised; I practiced childbirth related meditation. I was expecting to have a fast, beautiful, natural labor. My labor began and yes, it was intense, but I was in it for the long haul. I was ready to do the whole thing, no matter how long it lasted, without any sort of pain killer. After having contractions that were lasting twice as long as normal, and were twice as intense as most women’s, after my baby’s heartbeat kept decelerating dramatically on the EFM, my doula (of all people!) suggested I get an epidural. She said that it might be time. I was dehydrated, my blood sugar was low, and I wasn’t dilating. So I got an epidural. Something I never thought I’d do. All the natural birth advocates told me horror stories about epidurals: your baby won’t know how to nurse, they said. Your legs could be paralyzed for days. You could have long-lasting back pain. The needle going in hurts more than a contraction. But, the sassy anesthesiologist came in and didn’t even wait for my contraction to pass before sticking the long needle into my spine. I didn’t feel a thing, except near instant relief. The nurses told me to rest for awhile, but they were worried when Amelia’s heart rate kept slipping when I was lying on my right side, and they called the OB to the hospital to do a c-section. She got to the hospital and told me to start pushing. I had dilated completely and less than an hour later, Amelia was born. Yes, I got to give birth vaginally, but I didn’t feel a damn thing. Amelia came out and knew how to nurse instantly. She latched right on and went to town. For the first few weeks I was so exhilarated by her that it didn’t bother me that I had gotten the epidural. However, over the course of the next few months I began to deeply mourn the loss of the birth that I wanted. I wanted to feel her being born. I still get really sad when I think about the fact that I missed out on that one experience in my life, which I’ll never be able to have again. But, I gave birth to a healthy, happy, amazingly alert baby. The whole point of me elaborating my birth story to you is that I am still very much pro-natural birth, even though I had an epidural. Just because it didn’t work for me, doesn’t mean mothers shouldn’t try it. And the same goes for cosleeping. We’ve done it for over a year, and it’s been wonderful, but it’s important to recognize when a philosophy or theory contradicts necessity. If I didn’t get the epidural when I did it’s possible something terrible could’ve happened to Amelia (the umbilical cord was wrapped around her shoulder, so everytime I’d lie on my right side her oxygen was cut off), or I could’ve ended up with an emergency c-section. If we keep cosleeping, it’s possible that I’ll continue to be the living dead, and Amelia won’t grow and thrive as well as she would if she had more sleep. The obvious lesson is this: do what feels right, do what you believe in, but don’t be afraid to change things if it doesn’t work. There are a countless, positive ways to raise children. Find the one that works for you. That’s what I’m trying to do.

6 Comments leave one →
  1. Sarah permalink
    August 5, 2010 8:38 pm

    Just my 2 cents on the bed, but you will probably be fine with just the twin at her age (insteado f buying a crib now that you may not need again for years). Kids in daycare start sleeping on low cots w/ no sides at age 1, and my daughter was just over age 1 when we took the side off her crib for good and she’s only fallen out a handful of times over the last year, many of them she just got back in on her own & went back to bed (she is a very mobile sleeper kind of like it sounds like Amelia is, heck so am I and so is her brother for that matter!)

    Also, love the perspective you gave on your birth experience! I too wanted a completely natural birth but was induced when I went a full 2 weeks past my EDD. My baby was having latent heart-rate drops, and I wasn’t dilating even with my water being broken, and in the end I did end up with both the epidural & c-section which depressed me to no end as I sat in the NICU with my baby. But I came to terms with it as well, especially since during my c-section they found a previously unknown complication that could have otherwise ended disastrously. Just nice to knwo I’m not alone, I guess…

    • August 6, 2010 1:22 am

      Thanks, Sarah! I think we will just stick with the twin bed. Also, sorry to hear you didn’t have the birth experience you wanted either. Even though it doesn’t matter in the end how the baby is born, it’s hard to come to terms with an unwanted medical intervention.

  2. August 5, 2010 8:38 pm

    just caught up on the blog. i love that you’re doing this. just a couple ideas we’ve done with evalana. if she hasn’t just eaten a good dinner right before bedtime, we give her a bowl of oatmeal to fill her up for the night. She also has a cup of water in a cup holder on her bed so she can get drinks when she’s thirsty. because we’ve got a baby coming in december (who would most likely keep her up if we were all in bed together), we’re working away from cosleeping. right now we have a three-sided crib up next to our bed, so i can still cuddle her when she needs it, but she loves having her own bed. She moves all different directions in the bed, so we have blankets and pillows all around the edges, which she likes cuddling up against. i know a 1-year-old would want and need things different from a two-year-old though. and it seems like evalana has teething pain every time we try to change something about nighttime. i am looking forward to all her teeth being in.


    • August 6, 2010 1:23 am

      Good ideas! Yeah, teething is rough. She’s definitely working on some big ones right now, and that doesn’t make this any easier. We usually eat dinner at around 6, and bath time is at 7, so she’s still pretty full before bed. But it’s a good idea to have water close to the bed.

  3. August 5, 2010 9:35 pm

    I’m so proud of you Nat. You’ve worked so hard to do what’s best for Amelia and I hope that deviating from The Grand Plan, even though it’s not your ideal, will bring a restful change for your family.

    • August 6, 2010 1:24 am

      Thanks, Tonkelu! I know that things will work out for the best. I’m really glad I’ve blogged about it because I’ve gotten some great feedback from friends, and it’s helped me to stick with a plan. Otherwise I probably would’ve gotten sick of trying by night five or six. This way I have to hold myself accountable because I imagine my thousands of readers are waiting on the edge of their seats to find out what happens next.

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