Sometimes you come across sentiments so in line with your own heart, and so much more eloquently written, that you need to share them. As we continue to work out what sleep looks like for Del, and tangentially for me and Zach, I find this mother’s “sleep method” to be the ground on which I will sit. The entire post is worth reading, but here are some parts that particularly resonate for me.
“Sometimes we want comfort because something bothers us. Sometimes we’re rocked by the waves of life and battered by stresses. Sometimes we cling to those we love because we seek solace in comfort. Sometimes we cry because of pain or discomfort but find peace and calm in the arms of someone that we are close to. This applies to adults who have all the words in the world to communicate their needs and to understand them. To adults who have had years to fine-tune their ability to self comfort.
Since you have no words, I do not know the meaning behind your cries. And since you are an infant, I do not choose to attribute malice or aforethought to your cries that soothe as soon as I pick you up. I do not view you as a cunning little creature that wishes to interfere with my life by insisting on being near me.”
Think about the last time you wanted or needed the physical comfort of another person’s nearness. If snuggling, spooning, or otherwise linking your body to your spouse’s in your sleep is not something you desire, you might not understand – but you’re in a very small camp if you don’t. There is no manipulation involved when I lay my head on my husband’s chest. Likewise, there is none involved when my child – who not too long ago lived nestled within my body – reaches for me.
“I cannot think of any reason why I should feel okay letting you lay there screaming. Yes, I need sleep. Of course I need sleep. And I snatch that sleep where I can. Yes, I like sleep. I love sleep. I’ve acquired that taste for lazy days of lounging around in bed. Lazy days that I can’t remember the last of. I have words to vocalize these needs of mine. I have people that I can speak with, and I can even make a stab at saying it eloquently. “I need sleep.” Sometimes I’m so tired that I could cry with that need for sleep.
I am grown. I am strong. I understand the passage of time and that THIS will pass. You will sleep. Your infancy is the briefest part of the brief time that you are a child in need of my arms.”
There is really nothing I do that is so important I cannot either do it while a little bit tired, or pause it now to help my child and later again to take a nap myself. Were I a president, or a doctor, or a a genius with a gift the world needed it might be different. My talents and skills will still be there, and the pleasures and activities I enjoy will still be there … this few months to be tired is not too much for me.
“You learn that your bed is a safe place to be while awake. When you fuss or cry I pick you up and tell you “I know, you want to be held right now.” You learn that your bed is not a place where you are abandoned, but rather a place that you can happily be while awake.
I nurse you when you need to nurse, trusting you to know your needs and your hunger.
I smile at you and talk to you about how snuggly and warm your pajamas are. How sleepy and relaxed you look. I stroke your cheek and let you savor the sleepiness as you drift off feeling safe.”
I am not “ruining” or “spoiling” my child. I am teaching him how to sleep, how to trust that the world around him is safe while he sleeps, how to enjoy and appreciate sleep. Del’s crib is beside our bed now, and he is learning to wake, see us, and be comforted with a quick touch during the night. I know when he wakes from hunger because my breasts are full. He nurses and falls back to sleep as if he never woke, and I can move him back to his crib. And then I snuggle up to Zach, and our family sleeps.