Sunday, June 17

The Science of Sleep

Please note - I was going to add some really cute photos of my babies sleeping, but the photo files on my laptop don't go far enough back. Just imagine some really cute images. :)     

Well the past couple of weeks have not been fun.  Josh is sick again. I've had the headcold from 'nam. Lewis has been recovering from the same headcold. Maddy has been, well, just feeling left out I guess, so has been working diligently on developing some new neuroses.
       And whilst all this fun has been happening, I've been trying to distill my parenting methods, refine and re-direct them, you might say. Never fun at the best of times - though occasionally it can feel visionary and inspirational - and much much less fun when everyone's sick, including the parenting units.
        I've been reading around. Delving into the depths of the internet. You know what it's like, you start reading some interesting articles on attachment parenting, and before you can say "Oh-My-God-I-Need-To-Start-Lactating-Again", it's past midnight, you're on your third bowl of muesli, and reading strange statements about the benefits to your body of ingesting clay as part of a daily diet, and debating it's efficacy at powdered versus wet.... Luckily those of us who 'bed-share' with other adults have an automatic alarm system, whereby the bed-partner wakes up with a start, sees you're still awake, reads over your shoulder and then brings you up to speed on your idiocy/gullibility/naivety/need for sleep and rational thinking.

        ANYhow, ever since starting to try for baby number three, which is about a year and a half ago, I've been mulling over babies in general, and how I raised my babies, and examining my reasons for those methods, and how in hindsight I felt they worked out, or are still working out. And I came to the conclusion that this time round, I wanted to do things differently. Now I'm not beating myself up(although, let's be honest, that's pretty much the majority of this blog) about how it all  went down(as they say), and I'm not bemoaning my awful parenting skills, or lack of. I'm just interested, curious, and bordering on the over-analytical. I've been recognising that fear, or exhaustion, or ignorance, or youth, or a heady mix of all of the above, was driving a lot of my choices. And I'd like to be slightly more rational this time around.
        So yes, I have been reading me a few of those attachment-parenting blogs and articles. And before you shriek and say "Attachment Parenting? YOu're going to be one of THOSE?" like my poor maternal ancestor squawked when I idly threw the term into a conversation, it's not really what it sounds like in the media. As many articles point out(see here for an example) it's not a cut-and-dried set of hippy-dippy rules. It's a philosophy, and as I'm finding out increasingly, a philosophy I agree with.
           But one of the more practical aspects, and more widely-heard-of, is co-sleeping, or bed-sharing, or pillow-stealing, whatever you want to call it. And it appealed to me. It called to me. It said, come snuggle with your giant babies, smell their hair, hear their deep breathing, know with all your physical senses that they are WELL all night long. And right on cue, as if they could smell my attitude changing in the wind, they came crawling back into my bed like the little sleep-thiefs that they are. And I remembered rather fast, why I, as a parent, have never really done well at the whole co-sleeping business.

    NB: A rather painful part of this process is realizing I don't really enjoy co-sleeping even with my HUSBAND, let alone two grown children. I sigh at every noise he makes, harrumph and roll over huffily when he twitches, and groan out loud when he flings an arm over me in a sleepy attempt to connect. When he snores, I vibrate angrily until he stops, or failing that, 'gently'(relatively speaking) kick his shin, shake his shoulder or whisper loudly at him. In short, I am an impatient, selfish bed-body who does NOT enjoy the presence of other people when I'm trying to get to sleep. While I'm not sure what the solution is as regards to the man I married almost 9 years ago, it has shown me that perhaps personality plays a part in which principles one chooses, and which principles one leaves to the side. Sorting the wheat from the chaff, that sort of thing. 

      Maddy, like her father, is very good at falling asleep in bed with other people, and even when she doesn't(poor little mite has always been quite the insomniac, and with her presently-increasing anxieties, she's often wide awake for several hours in the middle of each night), she's very polite about it(unlike me), and will lie still, staring at the ceiling, or smiling sweetly at me... which is quite disconcerting I must admit, in the middle of the afore-mentioned night.
       Lewis, like myself, is a restless bed-buddy, but unlike me, he is restless with very good humour. He smiles and chats and makes up little songs, and gently tickles my nose-ring, and rubs his thatch of hair against my face, and giggles at well, nothing, and in short, drives me INSANE!!!! He simply doesn't know HOW to co-sleep, and if that is my fault for not providing him the opportunity when it might have been more instinctual, say, as a baby, then so be it. I've apparently spoiled him for co-sleeping.

      So they're back in their beds, and when they whimper at night I go into their room and perch on their beds, stroke their foreheads, rub their backs, and grimace at my own back-pain, but all the while grimly determining to not let them back into my bed. And although I will try my hardest to let our new little one sleep wrapped in my wakeful arms all night, I now know that it's just who I am. It's not that I'm a bad, uncaring mummy. I'm just a person who likes my bed, albeit a little too much.

      NB: Now even my husband isn't sleeping with me. He's been coughing so much that we decided it would be better for him to just go to bed on the couch at the beginning of the night rather than both of us being awake for hours and eventually me getting snippy at his loud illness(why can't he just be quiet about being unwell?) and him stomping out to the couch, hurt at my lack of compassion. So I get my precious bed all to my self. And ironically, it now takes me ages to get to sleep, lying by myself in the giant bed that just weeks ago felt too small, listening to all the silence of all my family members sleeping soundly in the night...

PS - I was going to add some really cute photos of my babies sleeping, but the photo files on my laptop don't go far enough back. Just imagine some really cute images. :)

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