After my son was born he started sleeping in bed with my wife and I. It was never our original intention to leave his crib empty but after a month of getting out of bed, walking around the bed, grabbing him from his crib, going back to the bed (or chair), breast feeding him, and then placing him back in his crib only to be awoken two hours later to repeat the process, my wife decided it would be easier if he just slept with us. I had my worries. I didn’t want to warp our son in some way. Also, I didn’t want a struggle when he eventually would go back to his crib. Worry aside, having him in the bed made our lives at night much easier. The only thing that sucked was the fact the our queen size bed was now being taken up by two people who know how to sprawl their bodies out to the equivalency of five people. When I would come home from work and get into bed, I would have to move them in order for me to fit. First, I would push my wife over forcefully. Being the heavy sleeper she is, I probably could have pushed her off the bed all together and she wouldn’t have noticed. With the exhaustion of breast-feeding and what not I decided she deserved at least some comfort though. After moving that sack of potatoes, it was time for the baby. I didn’t want to wake him for fear that I wouldn’t be able to sleep that night so I would carefully pick him up and push him in between us. I felt like I was dismantling a bomb. Sweat poured off my face as heavy bass driven music rose in the background.
Luckily for both of us Jude had no problem transitioning back into his crib. By six months old he obviously needed his own space. He would flop and roll between us until we were both confined to the very edge of either side of the bed. It was as if my wife Alaina and I were sharing the bed with a fat man, a fat man who demanded lots of space. After that transition, Jude started sleeping through the night.
HALLELUJAH!! Angels shouted from the sky! A choir sang every night I got into bed and was able to roll over and hold my wife. I’m very grateful for the bond and the security we were able to provide for my son but nothing beats sleeping alone with your wife, especially when both of you are dead exhausted and just want to sleep.
I’ve been told by other parents of young guns that we should consider ourselves lucky for having a kid that sleeps through the night. The stereotype from society is that no kid ever sleeps. I think as adults, we only remember the bad nights. The truly awful ones stick with us while the nights of pure sleep ecstasy slip through our memories. Jude has had his bad nights much like everyone else. On my own sleepless nights I’ve wondered if he lays in bed thinking. With nothing to worry or perplex him, I wonder what he would think about. On the nights when he does seem restless, holding him while rocking will more than likely have him back to dreamland in a matter of moments. Even when he was growing his beaver teeth, he managed to sleep. With never being able to before, I imagined he dreamt of chewing.
Imagine our surprise when he was asleep for only an hour on a Saturday night before awaking with a blood curdling scream. We were enjoying the last bit of our Saturday before I had to arise at four the next morning in order to complete my 14 hour work day. With the first cry, we let him go for a few minutes. He had been fussy during the day so we chalked it up to more teeth coming in. If you’ve ever sat listening to a crying baby, there’s only so long you can tune it out. With the 10 minute mark passing on the clock it was decided that we would rock with him. The gentle rocking worked only for a few minutes before he was up screaming again. He seemed to not want to be left alone. After our usual “what should we do?” talk, he was brought down and fell asleep watching Orange is the New Black. He must have been bored by the dark comedy of a women’s prison. Bed time loomed over all three of us, my wife and I both knowing but denying that this would be a rough night. Sure enough, every time we tried to have him lay by himself he screamed and cried and rolled like a fool. After rocking, bouncing, and running in place while holding him, an executive decision was made for me to go to bed so I could try and get some sleep. Alaina stayed downstairs with him. I’m not sure what time he finally had enough of the pain and fell asleep due to pure exhaustion but it wasn’t to much before my alarm went off.
As a reader you should pretend you hear the CLANG CLANG of Law and order when you see “Sunday.” If not that, maybe compare it to the title cards of The Shining. I know both myself and Alaina were both looking quite close to Jack Nicholson at the point where he finally froze to death. After I got home that night, what I wouldn’t give to freeze to death. All joking aside, I wasn’t looking forward to hoping he would sleep for more then an hour at a time. I envied my wife for being so strong the night before. I knew we would be switching roles that night and inside I was being a baby about it.
Because he was so congested sounding, a shower was in order. Much like the sickness of April 2013 the humidity of the shower wafted over him and he fell asleep. Except this time he fell asleep on me and naked instead of in a battery operated swing that barely fit in our bathroom. Carefully, we dressed him and brought him back to his crib. My son took the entire process as some sort of sick joke. Only after hitting the mattress softly did he wake up and immediately start crying. I felt like a mix of Bill Murry in Groundhog day and Edward Norton in Fight Club. I was a sleepless zombie reliving my previous night. I remember thinking: “No” As soon as he started to cry. It was a hard “no”. More like one you say when you lose all hope as you realize humanity is finally doomed.
I let my wife try to get some sleep while I brought Jude downstairs and quite literally held him while hopping around the kitchen singing Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer (his favorite song). Nothing was calming him down. Nothing. Due to the very long day, I was starting to reach my boiling point. The crying is one thing. Mix that with the thrusting fists and the constant squirming it will destroy you. I say squirming because thats exactly what it was. There was no way he could feel comfortable: not laying down, not being held, not hanging upside down by his feet. It was at this point that I was glad not to be alone. Alaina knew I needed her. With the sound of his cries filling the entire house, she had not yet been able to fall asleep. She swooped in and grabbed him while I closed myself into the bathroom and had a quiet breakdown. I laid on the bathroom floor feeling sorry for myself and sorry for the fact that there was nothing I could do to get him to sleep. My breathing deepened. The room was starting to grow around me as I started to relax.
Feeling refreshed I took Jude from her and she proceeded to bed. I would have the chance to nap the next day. Her only chance of of rest was the few hours left in the night. The only thing that kept my son calm that night was watching a low budget documentary on designing products. The insanely close images swirled in front of our eyes as we watched chairs and circuit boards being made. After an hour of this mindless creation, we had both slipped into the comfort of the couch and fallen asleep like babies. I do not remember bringing him up to his crib and getting into bed myself. Dawn was right around the corner.
The next couple of days proved to be better. Especially when we realized he was sick and brought him in to see the doctor. While fighting through his cold we were able to get him some much needed rest making him (and us) happier during the day.
The sleepless nights are the worst nights of your life with a child. They make you appreciate every night that you can fall asleep and stay asleep. Sometimes I feel as though I’m mocking sleep when I stay up. I could be enjoying the comfort and warmth of my bed but instead I type away at the computer and yawn. Soon enough though, we will be dealing with another sleepless three months with the arrival of our next of kin and not to long after that, I’m sure we will be reminiscing and laughing about the days of our early parenting and the times we couldn’t sleep.