Tuesday, October 14, 2008

sleeping ON children

Now that I've done my ranting about Soule Mama, I may as well fess up about some of my other influences that are bad for my brain. The big one, as far as parenting goes anyway, is Mothering magazine. When little baby Smootch was in hospital I used to hold her for hours on end (between having a gianormous hole in her heart and being 2 weeks old, she was always sleeping) and read back issues of Mothering magazine from the library. Being ever so slightly emotional (see 'hole in heart in 2 week old baby'), and also having a serious dose of those new mommy hormones to boot, the 'natural family' meme has been imprinted on my brain. Hello babywearing. Hello family bed. Hello prolonged breast feeding. Hello organic everything. Hello unschooling.

Okay, it wasn't hard for Mothering to inflitrate my brain, having serious leanings in that direction already. Still, they put an extra spin on my disposition towards anything labelled 'natural' and it has tossed me over the edge. I would look down at that tiny little beautiful tragically ill baby and promise I would give her all I could to help her develop to her potenical. Good food, good school, good love.

Fast forward four years and another baby. Much of the natural family stuff has worked for us. I suspect I would of done much of the same things even if I had never heard of it, but Mothering has given me some good reasons to stick to my guns when other people around me weren't quite on board with some things. Instead of caving to peer pressure, I listened to my intuition, reassured that other people in the world, if not here exactly, thought the same way I did. And thus I get to make my own mistakes rather than repeating someone elses, yes?

Here's the thing though: Mothering magazine, along with anybody trying to sell a point of view, will tell you many good things about their product but neglect to mention the downside. Everything has a downside. Parenting, like life, is a series of choices and compromises.

Let's take, for example, oh the family bed. Good idea with babies. No need to wake up mom and baby for a feeding, everyone cozy and warm all night. More sleep: yay! Family bed with a toddler. Okay! Parent and child cuddled up. Still no problems, everyone has a place. Family bed with a preschooler and infant... urm, wait a minute, what happened to dad? Which child gets cuddled? Who exactly is trying to nurse at 2am? Hey, no one's doing much sleeping anymore!

We're not totally dumb, btw. Smootch was in her own room long before babe #2 showed up. And she would sleep though until about 5 am and then crawl in with us. I believe it is the same with many families with preschoolers, family bedders or not. But now she's been waking up earlier since she's entered the age of nightmares (ask her about them sometimes, they are often doozies) and she sometimes crawls in with me and babe before dad has even gone to bed.

And both children cuddle up to me, aka Heat Source. So I end up between both kids, a collective 53 pounds of pressure trying to get unhumanly close. They love me, see? But which way do I turn to cuddle? Neither one of them wants my backside, for some reason. They fight for boobside property. And I get a headache if I sleep on my back and arms up in the air, which is where they have to go if I don't want to crush a child's face with my extra wave. I end up turning back and forth all night, annoying enough, but then everytime a part of me leaves contact with the bed a child flows into the space. If my arm is lifted, a little arm snakes underneath. When I lift my torso slightly to try to roll over on the spot (tricky!), a tiny baby head wedges itself beneath my rib cage. In the darkest part of the night I now wake up to find myself a full 8 inches off the matress as my kids have wiggled themselves entirely underneath me. The only point of myself actually making contact with the bottom sheet is my feet, which are hanging off the end of my short, bumpy, whiny bed mattress cover made of children.

So, family bed. Yes and no. I'm hoping to just survive the next 6 months or so until babe number 2 is able to hold his own with his sister and just pop the two of them down on the bed and they can work it out while I go sleep in the kids' room. (Which has a lovely princess theme to it now, so I can feel royal.)

Oh, yes, and I'm totally a person of my word. Sometimes. I'm scared of what's going to happen now that I've gone on about the family bed since I actually went out and bought Amanda Soule's book after I declared my hiatus from Soule Mama. Maybe I'll have to start letting the cats into the room at night? Is there a king size bed in my future? Or single parenthood 80

'K, gotta go check Soule Mama. Hope y'all had a good thankgiving!

1 comment:

Sandy said...

Hi Vegbee,
I discovered your blog while avoiding studying for my medieval history exam..I'm from Australia, a midwife and did the family bed thing. Many years on my words of wisdom are buy a king bed. My eldest from 6 months preferred her own space, but then there was Amber. Now at 16 she wouldn't think of invading our bed but up until 4 years ago it was a very different story. Happy election day!