Monday, September 03, 2007

Born to Bjorn

This is a first for me, a blog entry written with le Petit asleep... in the Baby Bjorn baby carrier on my chest. Not ideal, but at least I have both arms free. I've heard tell of other high need babies whose mothers spent the three months of their maternity leave with them strapped on their chests, trying as best they could to do housework, keep up with e-mail, and stay sane. Alas, I'm short and the Bjorn leaves the baby's feet dangling down too far for me to sit very comfortably, but I'm getting the hang of it.

I bought two fancy-dancy hippie baby carriers from the US, a sling and a wrap, but either I'm incompetent at adjusting them (it's more challenging than it looks) or I waited too long to try them out, because le Petit will have nothing to do with either of them. In fact, trying them out has proven a good way to ruin his otherwise good mood, which I'm loathe to do. We've heard far too much crying lately.

We've begrudgingly accepted that le Petit sleeps much better in our bed than anywhere else at night. His night wakings had increased to the rhythm of once an hour to half an hour, which neither of his parents could handle. When we finally gave in and put him in bed from the beginning of the night he slept four hours straight, then five the next night, and finally a record of seven. That much, at least, is positive: we all get enough sleep now to function. I still usually have to nurse him to sleep before carefully putting him down and cuddling up next to him, as being next to me is sufficient for him to stay asleep but usually not enough for him to fall asleep. It all leaves me wondering when I'll be able to get him into his own crib, or if he continues to sleep with us, how I'm going to start moving his bedtime up to a reasonable hour without going to bed myself at eight or nine.

In the day, he'll rarely nap anywhere but in the stroller or the car (if I'm lucky) or in the Bjorn (if I'm desperate). We've got three books on infant sleep and they all predict dire results if a child gets used to falling asleep in a moving vehicle, next to a parent, or on the breast. So, in addition to being fed up and frustrated, my husband and I are worried that we're messing up le Petit's sleep patterns for years to come.

As a friend points out, no one goes to college needing to be driven to sleep in the back of a car or nursed to sleep by their mother. But what happens when I go back to work in January and le Petit goes to day care? He will suddenly be left alone in some crib to howl it out. I'm worried that the personnel will be so frustrated that he'll be sent home for "failure to adjust."

I look down at him now, peacefully asleep with his head against my chest, and I know he hears my heartbeat and feels safe. I carefully take off his warm hat -- we were ready for a long walk outside before he fell asleep before I opened the front door -- and he barely stirs. His soft, thin hair stands up like a halo. His long eyelashes move and his breathing is audible and irregular; he must be in REM sleep. What is he dreaming of? The ten minutes he wailed as I walked back from my failed attempt to get him to sleep in his stroller this morning? Or, and I dearly hope, something happy: being curled up next to Mom at night, or talking baby talk (Arrrreuh! Geu!) with Dad. His mouth moves, and I'm not sure, but I think he may be smiling.

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