Wednesday, July 9, 2008

The Crib, The Crib, Oh! The Crib

We reached a milestone last night: our little buddy slept in his crib, in his own room, all night.
Sleeping apart was a much bigger deal for me than it was for Zane. I know it's time, and a necessary step; but, I missed him. Even though I slept well, it was the first time since learning I was pregnant that my son and I were not together during the night.
I think it is common to approach parenthood determined to follow certain tenets, or to not make certain "mistakes." I know I did. During pregnancy, I had Very Definite Ideas about how to manage our baby and our sleeping arrangements. I insisted that my child would be sleeping in his own bed from Day One because co-sleeping/sleep-sharing/family beds were for airy-fairy, hippy-dippy, granola types, not highly-organized and efficient (read: control freak) people like me.
But my Very Definite Ideas changed as soon as I met Zane. Parenthood instantly became an opportunity to let go of control, act instinctively and do things in a way that made sense for us. PG and I were instantly smitten with Zane, and what made sense to both of us was to savor every second by holding him a lot, loving on him a lot, snuggling with him a lot, kissing him a lot, etc.,. The buzzword for this is "attachment parenting." We found that attachment parenting makes sense for our little family, and all three of us have thrived in that style.
Sleep-sharing became a natural extension of the attachment parenting, and it has been a positive experience for our family. As counterintuitive as it may seem, sleep-sharing allowed all three of us to sleep well.
It made middle-of-the-night nursing so much easier as neither Z nor I had to fully awaken for feeding time, and we could easily drift back into a decent stretch (3-4 hours) of restful sleep. No sleepwalking to the baby's room at the other side of the house to sit upright in a rocking chair for 40 minutes while baby nursed.
Also, when he was snuggled up next to me, I could hear him breathing and I knew he was okay. Fear of SIDS allayed, I was able to enjoy restful sleep. And Zane seemed to be comforted by the closeness of PG and me during the night. From Day One he has been a better-than-average sleeper. As a newborn he slept in long stretches between feedings and, at two months, he began sleeping for 7-8 hours straight at night. When he does awaken during the night, he will immediately settle back into sleep without crying (unless his derelict mother forgets to change his diaper after his supplemental bottle...)

During our 9-week sojourn in Tallahassee for the legislative session, Zane and I slept side-by-side every night. I first brought him into the bed with me to make sure he stayed warm enough when the temperatures in Tallahassee dipped below 30 degrees for nearly the first four weeks we were there. The co-sleeper was set up, but the only spot for it was in front of a (thin-paned) window. So the first time I felt my baby's ice-cold nose was the last time he slept in the co-sleeper. Zane slept through the night, pretty much every night, while we were in Session, so, I reasoned, if it ain't broke, why fix it?

When we returned home to Fort Myers, I confided in PG that I wasn't ready to put him in his crib. I was super attached to the closeness that sleep-sharing creates; and, fortunately for me, PG understands my attachment to our son and he, too, loves gazing at our sleeping Z and waking to smiles and coos and giggles in the morning.

But, the child is nearly seven months old and it's time. Everything we have read suggests that six months is the magic age when things start to change in infants: they begin to understand how to "communicate" to get what they want, and they begin to understand how to "play" their parents. As much as I adore the closeness of sleep-sharing, my instincts are telling me it's time to transition to independent sleeping in the crib. So far, so good. Score one for attachment parenting, maybe?

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