Thursday, April 28, 2011

Bathtubs Make Good Beds Sometimes

I came across this book today on Twitter: Go the F@#k to Sleep, a thought we parents have all had at one time or another about our children, who often, will not. go. to. sleep. 

Don't lie. You know you've thought it! 

And author Adam Mansbach knows it. "When 'Goodnight Moon' just isn't cutting it ... one dad and novelist has written a bedtime story to warm the hearts of sleep-deprived parents everywhere: 'Go the F@#k to Sleep.' "

Children and sleep. Oh, the tales I could tell. I'm a co-sleeping parent, from way back before co-sleeping was such a hip thing to do. I did it because I was desperate and co-sleeping accomplished my goal of getting (barely) enough sleep!

Seriously. There's a reason my husband nicknamed our first son, "Draculita." If I tried keeping Martin awake during the day, he was overtired and too crabby for sleep at bedtime. If I let him sleep during the day, he was too wide awake to go to bed at a decent time -- say, sometime before 3 a.m. Oh, I tried letting him cry it out. Once. And for weeks afterward, I couldn't round the corner into the next room without him screaming over my perceived disappearance.

For everyone's sanity, I stopped exclusively breastfeeding and let my husband start getting up with the baby during the night and bottle-feeding. Martin didn't care he was getting a bottle. Breastmilk, formula, he didn't care as long as it filled his belly. But he sure cared about (not) going to sleep in his crib. He wouldn't have it.

The crying and screaming were relentless, no matter how hard my husband tried. I'd turn off the monitor, close the bedroom door, stick plugs in my ears and shove my head under my pillow. But there was no escaping the miserable cries of a baby who wanted to play at 2 a.m., but was instead being rocked to sleep.

I confess. I thought it: "Oh, child. Please. 'Go the F@#k to Sleep.' "

I couldn't take it anymore. I grabbed a big, fluffy bed comforter, a blanket and an armful of pillows. I threw them in the bathtub in our master bathroom, flipped on the ceiling fan, pushed the door shut and curled up in a ball. Just the humming of the fan and my nice, new, white, porcelain-coated cocoon. Ahhh, peace.

It's the only way I survived those early months!

Several years later, a close friend had a baby girl. My friend looovvvvves her sleep. Even as an adult, she sneaks in an afternoon nap whenever she can. (And let me tell you, we are all happier people when she gets a nap.) I knew after first baby arrived, she was gonna be hurtin' for sleep. And it was not going to be pretty.

I'll never forget one of our first conversations after her baby arrived:
Me: "Hey! How're you feeling? How's that whole sleep thing going?!"
Her: "I'm soooo tired. Oh, my God. You know how I am about my sleep. And she. won't. sleep. She just cries. I'm going out of my mind!"
Me: (chuckling under my breath) "You'll be OK. Sleep when she sleeps. I know it's not your philosophy, but if you get desperate, try letting her sleep with you. "
Her (obviously not listening to me): "Is she ever going to sleep through the night? This is killing me. Oh, my God. You were so calm with Martin when he was a baby. I'm a terrible mother, Karen. Some nights, I swear, I would never do it, I love her so much, but oh, my God, some nights, I just want to throw her out the window! How did you ever not want to throw Martin out the window?!"
Me: "I did! But, hello, I didn't go around telling people that!"
Her: Huge, audible sigh of relief.
Me: "You know. The bathtub makes a very good bed sometimes." 

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