It’s 6:30 in the morning, and it seems pointless to try to go back to sleep. It’s a quiet, grey morning. The trees are becoming finally becoming sparse after an unusually warm November. It seems like everything is trying to hold on: tender, crisp leaves to cool branches, and Baby Joseph, clinging desperately to me as I lower him into his crib.
Once upon a time, I had an infant that would sleep through the night. I would lay my angel in his lovely crib, and tiptoe back to my bed to curl up in the warm, assuring arms of my husband. We would sleep, actually and truly sleep, until 5am (glorious!). At the sound of his sleepy, early morning cries, his Daddy would go pluck him from his bed, bring him to ours for some cuddles and nursing, and the three of us would fall gently and peacefully back to sleep until eight—or later! Deep sigh.
Last week, Baby Joseph had his first real illness. It began as a fever of 103. With no other symptoms present, we held his fever at bay with baby ibuprofen and waited for it to break. However, there is no way to keep the screaming and crying at bay, now is there? We remained on constant worry-mode, ever vigilant of any other symptoms. This involved, of course, sleepless nights of holding, coddling, and rocking in an effort to provide some means of comfort to our little one. The fever still hadn’t broken two days later, and Baby J went to the doctor. All was well and normal, just a little virus going around. I’ll make a long story short: after returning from the doctor, his illness took a huge turn for the worse, and we wound up in the ER in the WeeHour. He’d developed an ear infection and an x-ray showed blockage and spasms in his little colon.
His painful screams sounded heart-rending down the bare, sterile, hospital walls. Finally, around five a.m., our little guy fell asleep on the gurney. Exhausted, I climbed up and curled myself at the foot of the bed, and my husband pulled his chair over and laid his head down with us. It was the first sleep we’d had simultaneously in almost three days. It lasted a full 30 minutes before we were discharged.
I am not a fan of antibiotics. I will do everything possible to avoid taking them, but what do you do when your child needs them? We simply have to clear up his ear infection, and it’s my responsibility to protect my son’s health, so, my child is on amoxicillin. Ugh. Isn’t there a better way?? It immediately gave him a full-body rash, and he’s had relentless diarrhea ever since. Ugh, again. Poor baby’s had a hard week.
Thankfully, Baby Joseph seems to be much happier, and is taking the prolific poopy pants in stride. Or, in crawl, rather. There is still one, very large problem. Baby Joseph will not, under any circumstances, return to his crib. A week’s worth of holding and snuggling has left us with a clingy, emotional little child. It is nearly impossible to even sit him down; he immediately begins crawling (crying and pouting) over to grip onto a leg and raises his little arms to be held. Even when we have rocked him into a deep and heavy sleep, the very instant he is lowered into his crib, he begins kicking and howling like we are performing some sort of merciless torture. How does he know he’s been placed in his crib when he’s ALREADY asleep?? Where does he get all that energy to kick and flail when he was, just a nanosecond ago, in a deep sleep??
The last few nights as I lay in bed, the recipient of regular kicks to the ribs by tiny—but lethal—feet, I look at my two Josephs, big and small; I’ve been so richly blessed, it’s true, and I love them in ways I never knew I would be able to love. The thought occurred to me that I have everything now, that I’m satisfied. I imagined our life with just one child, not two, as we’d planned. I tried to look from Baby J’s perspective, as an only child, rather than a brother. I rationalized that siblings often fight, have rivalries, aren’t necessarily the best of friends… In the morning, I realized that I am afraid that if we have another baby, I’ll forfeit sleep for another, what–four, five, six years? I’m afraid that my marriage will become a process of taking turns comforting our child, and never having a moment alone to comfort one other, to talk and connect without a baby between us.
So, today is a new day. My fears can be resolved if I bravely accept the task of teaching my son to sleep in his crib. Every night. Certainly, we can still enjoy the closeness of sharing a bed as a family— during future ear infections, and maybe New Year’s Eve, or perhaps on a lazy Sunday afternoon.