Monday, August 06, 2007


Le Petit will not sleep through the night. This is not in and of itself a problem, as I tend to fall back asleep quite easily. I would gladly wake up at one, three, five o'clock in the morning to nurse Petit, if I could simply crawl back into bed afterwards to catch another hour or two of rest.

The problem is, once awake, Petit does not want to go back to sleep himself. Or, more accurately, he will rarely go back to sleep elsewhere than in my arms, where his shallow, quick breaths betray a persistent state of light sleep that will evaporate in tears soon after I put him back in his crib.

I've spent hours -- believe me, I've counted them -- in the chair beside his bed, holding him and listening to his breathing. When it starts to even out, I hold my own breath and wait for the right moment to attempt the delicate transfer from lap to bed. I place him gently on his mattress and watch. He squirms briefly. His flexes his legs, pulls his hands close to his face. Then he either slowly winds down to become calm and immobile, or continues to squirm absently as if in slow motion. He may open an eye or wrinkle his forehead. I have the strange feeling of watching not a tiny human but an automaton.

If he remains still, I creep outside the room, hopping over the floorboard I know creaks, and pull his door three-quarters closed behind me. I climb back into bed. Sometimes I watch the clock for twenty minutes and wait for him to pass the threshold of deep sleep, tense and ready to jump back up at the first cry. More recently I simply fall asleep, stealing what rest I can for however long he gives me. The cycle repeats itself ten, forty, or sixty minutes later, and often lasts until dawn.

Last night, a "nuit de merde" but unfortunately typical enough, he fell asleep at eleven-thirty, woke up at one-thirty, and finally fell back asleep in his crib at three-thirty only to wake up again at four. At four o'clock I gave in and took him to sleep with me on the futon-couch in the living room, a row of pillows on the floor below us in the unlikely event he should roll out. One protective arm around him, I slept for three hours, intermittently aware of his squirming between my own short, vivid dreams.

The hardest part is that I have no idea how long this will last. I don't want him to get used to sleeping next to me. I want him to be happy and able to calm himself, unafraid of sleep. I want my time in my own bed to be time for me to recharge and to nurture myself, alone with my husband. Everyone and every book gives contrary solutions: let him cry it out; go to him immediately to reassure him when he starts to fuss; sleep with him in your bed; whatever you do, leave him in his own room, where he's safe and will learn to be independent.

In the end, at four o'clock in the morning, the nth time I've been awake at four in the morning in the blur of the past three and a half weeks, I can only do what keeps me calm and gains me enough rest to be vaguely competent and emotionally together the next day. I feel like a gambler who's crazily borrowing against some future big win that never comes.

And it's only been three and a half weeks.

If anyone who's reading this blog -- and I know my readership limited -- has any advice, or can just reassure me with a similar story and a "this too shall pass," please, please, please leave a comment.

I've written this post with Le Petit sleeping not-so-soundly on my lap, intermittently nursing, and the laptop perched on my knees. I've a three-week old baby who is almost as attached to me as he was in the womb... day and night!

1 comment:

Anne said...

Yup. Sounds about right!

Hang in there. This too shall pass...

Failing that, you have my number!