When I was pregnant we tried to imagine what life would be like with a newborn, and what life would be like later down the track with our bigger baby. I imagined I would be able to do it all. I enrolled to continue my masters in first semester, taking on half the workload I normally do, but I enrolled none the less. I imagined this magical time where I would be able to study whilst my beautiful rosy cheeked newborn napped peacefully in a sling across my chest, or in a basket by my feet. I imagined wistful days spent gazing into this beautiful face, hours spent working whilst bouncing a babe on my knee. I tried to imagine what sort of parent I would be, how I would react when she cried, how I would give to her when she needed me most.
I knew that I wanted to be close to her always. That has not changed. There is something primal about the relationship between mother and child, something that many aspects of Western culture teach us to ignore. We are encouraged to separate ourselves physically from a very young age. I’m not one to judge other peoples decisions but for me, I want her close. She is my baby. I wasn’t OK with sleeping next to her in a bassinet at the hospital. She had just come out of my body. She needed to be in my arms. But that’s me.
I was very wrong about how much time I would have after Bo was born. I deferred from my masters, thinking I would pick it up this semester – I have subsequently deferred again. Doing things whilst Bo sleeps isn’t something that happens often. Sometimes I might get the chance to tidy up the house or hang out a load of laundry, sometimes I even get a chance to have a shower or put on a clean pair of pajamas. Some days I don’t get any of this at all. Bo needs me, a lot. She needs to sleep with me close to her, often with my hands on her body or her soft lips against my neck. She likes to know I’m there. She sleeps better if I’m curled up beside her, when she wakes her first instinct is to look for me. It’s not a manipulative move, it’s her instinctual response to waking, she looks for her mother. Her little eyelids flutter open and if she sees me, they close again – a sleepy smile on her face. If she wakes too much looking for me, and catches sight of me outside the door then she’s up on all fours crawling across the bed with shouts of joy… because clearly if I’m up, she’s up and its time for us to PLAY!
I’ve had a few moments where this drives me
a little bit seriously crazy. And I worry because I get sucked into trying to find “advice” to solve my “situation.” But there is a reason that no ones advice sits right with me. Because Bo is not just anyone’s child. She’s mine. And no one else can truly give the advice that I need – it’s already right there in front of me. It’s in her… If only I could learn how to see it. Awash in a sea of sleep theories, I asked my husband what people do about babies sleep here. How often do babies sleep, where do they sleep… when do they sleep. He said, oh people here don’t worry about things like that. Babies just sleep when they are tired. I think perhaps we have far to many theories. And once again I have to be thankful for my husband for putting up with all my crazy, particularly considering it is over something so culturally foreign to the man.
I love Bo. I love her more than life itself. I love her like every mother loves their child… completely and without condition. But sometimes, sometimes I just really need to pee. Or five minutes to myself. Or my arm back. Or just to pee. Or to finish off that project because there really is only so many times that I can tell that client “sorry we are not having an ideal sleep week over here.” I often have a list of things I need to do… it goes something like this. Work. Work. Eat. Shower. I often get only one of them done in a day. Sometimes I have time to eat, but not to chew… Shower but not to dress… Write but not to think. Bo has been needing us to be extremely hands on lately. She needs to be in our arms when she’s trying to go to sleep, and I’m OK with that. We lay on the bed together and read stories and sing quiet songs and nurse and eventually (mostly) she drifts off into sleep, and I creep out with the fear of god that I might wake her up and have to start all over again.
When the going get’s tough and I’m running on nothing more than the smell of sleep I try to remember the one quote in all the blogs that I have read on both sides of the co-sleeping, non-cosleeping, sleep training, no sleep training debate:
Remember, you are not managing an inconvenience; You are raising a human being
~ Kittie Franz
And breathe… 1… 2… 3.