Saturday, June 18, 2011

sleep is good food

My 14 year old son slept for 12 hours last night. We've had a hectic and exhausting (although rewarding and delightful!) two weeks of working long hours each at Hogwarts Camp, so it's no surprise and, in fact, is probably something he needs to do more often. Some parenting habits I wonder more and more if I will ever outgrow, like peeking in at my sleeping kids, feeling reassured by their snores that all is well, that they are getting what they need at that moment.

I am reminded this morning of the first time that Nash took a long sleep. It was one of those turning points of early parenthood for me, so I remember it well. It was a Sunday evening after a weekend of meetings and we were at a friend's house in Miami. To be there had involved taking my first road trip with a six week old baby and discovering that really, truly, in spite of what "everyone" insisted about what babies will and won't do, my child hated being strapped into a carseat and would scream, scream, scream if we tried to drive during his wakeful periods.

So we stopped frequently and did the best we could to get where we were going without making the baby miserable. In this case, we also spent a weekend sleeping on a church floor with the babe who, at that point, still needed to be nursed every 2-3 hours. I reminded myself all the time that this was not a permanent scenario, but dude. I was wiped. It had been six weeks (really, more, as the end of my pregnancy was a time of frequent insomnia and anxiety) since I had rested well.

That Sunday evening, those of us who had been in meetings together all weekend sat around our friend's living room, eating, drinking, talking, singing... and in my case, nodding off. Nash was sleeping in my mother's arms and I had reached the state of exhaustion wherein I knew I needed sleep but I also dreaded catching just a few minutes only to be yanked awake by the baby's urgent needs. Folks had to be persistent to get me to get some rest. Finally, our host led me to a quiet bedroom and after lying in the dark for a few minutes with my anxieties, I was able to trust that my family and friends were more than capable of meeting my baby's needs and waking me as necessary and I slept... and slept.

When I woke up, for a second it felt as if the previous several months of my life had never happened. Rested! Comfortable! Alone! These were things I had not experienced in a long, long time. Then my awareness kicked in and I felt panic - how could this have happened? What had become of my child? Did folks lose their minds and, I don't know, take him away somewhere, feed him formula, decide to teach him some harsh life lessons about crying it out, what?! My mind went a step further - suppose the the unthinkable had happened, and no one woke me because, heck, what's the point? My anxiety was paralyzing and I just lie there, approaching full-on freak out. Then I heard Nash's distinctive snuffling noises from the hallway as my mother brought him in to nurse, and, you know, everything was fine.

At six weeks old, my baby had amazingly done exactly what I needed him to do and slept an unprecedented (and until recently, un-repeated) 12 hour night, and all was well.

1 comment:

Lone Star Ma said...

Lovely post.