Thursday, February 28, 2008

The Sweet Ambrosia of Sleep

Most new parents know that new babies are capable (medically-speaking) of sleeping through the night by 3 months of age. Most do not realize that the medical definition of “through the night” is five consecutive hours!

Few adults can function well on five hours of sleep… and I am certainly not among the few that can.

To make matters worse, just as your baby is developmentally ready to sleep longer stretches, outside forces begin to disrupt her sleep. I’m talking about throbbing, swollen gums (Elliot's already been teething for a month), sore thigh muscles and a low grade fever (vaccines), and the loud protests of her big sister as she fights off the Little Mermaid’s shark in her sleep.

At four months old Elliot was sleeping comfortably in her own bed from 8:30 at night to 6 or 7 in the morning. For a week and a half I gorged myself in an all-I-could-sleep buffet.

Then at 4 months, our baby needed more shots. Fie vaccines! I worried so much about the under-researched effect of the chemical cocktails they were injecting into my baby, that I hadn’t even anticipated the sleep deprivation. She hasn’t slept more than two hours in her own bed since the shots.

After her somersault off the bed last week, I certainly didn’t dare bring her into our bed while I was sleeping! Even though I’ve become a big fan of co-sleeping (oh yes the medical profession frowns on it, but the sisterhood of mothers across the globe recognizes co-sleeping as the most natural and sensible way to keep everyone rested and healthy), I’ve been up and down two or three times a night trying to teach Elliot to sleep in her bed. Between teething (she wakes every time her Tylenol wears off) and the bad habits her shots caused, no one was sleeping.

Then Joe installed the bed rail.

Now our bed IS the crib. Terrible, I know. I didn’t let Maya sleep in our bed until she was over a year old, and then it was just to coax her into sleeping longer in the morning. Elliot, however, seems sturdier to my less frightened, more seasoned mothering instincts. And I was totally shocked to find out that many of the moms I’ve confessed to admit to co-sleeping with their own babies.

When she’s a bit older I’ll buckle down and coach Elliot in the art of self-soothing. For now though, that snuggly baby body stretches out next to me, away from blankets and pillows of course, and we sleep. All of us.

I slept so much last night, I even remembered my dreams! Oh the luxury!

Fellow math-geek parents, check out Mothering Magazine’s statistical analysis demonstrating that co-sleeping is not any more dangerous than crib sleeping.

Of course, if you’re thinking of co-sleeping follow the safety guidelines (they’re at the end of this article).

No comments:


Search This Blog