photo by Sheri Dixon

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Of Puppies and Babies and Snuggles in Bed

"You want to put him all the way BACK THERE? How can you even THINK that?" my husband said accusingly.

We had just had our child- a darling bouncing boy of 8 pounds 4 ounces. He was born right...there. On our bed. With 2 midwives in attendance, just hours previously.

Now, we'd planned where the nursery would be- in the room behind the kitchen that was my older son's room when they visited. We'd borrowed a crib from Ward's brother and set it up with all new brightly colored safari animal sheets and whatnot. Where the baby was going to be sleeping was not a surprise.

Until the baby was born.

I've always been a proponent of the Family Bed- keeping babies close when sleeping. My first husband was not so much, and for the most part, Americans in general are not in favor of 'that sort of falderal'.

So my two older kids had their own rooms and cribs, because
a) I hadn't grown old and confident enough yet to say, "Shut up. The babies are coming to bed with us and if you don't like it, lemme show you to the sofa".
b) Their rooms were literally 3 steps away from ours.

I never let them cry themselves to sleep and spent hours rocking them and patting little rear ends till they dozed off.

Because our old Victorian Texas house was bigger and more rambling than our postage stamp ranch up north, the new baby would be...12 steps away.

And Ward was OK with that. This was going to be his first child, and he was pushing 50 years old. I was 40, and this was my 3rd.

I figured if anyone would need some 'space' from the new alien in our lives, it would be Ward.

Until the baby was born.

"You want to put him all the way BACK THERE? How can you even THINK that?"

and the baby moved into our bed.

The theory goes that you cannot sleep with the baby because tending to the baby's every whimper will cause him to be clingy and you must encourage independence.

Really. We're talking about a person who is unable to walk or talk, and hasn't figured out how to use their opposable thumbs or car keys. Also toothless. Just how damn independent do you want this larval human to be?

The theory goes that co-sleeping is dangerous and you could crush that tiny child...maybe that's what happens to some of the SIDS babies...

Actually, co-sleeping babies have a lower rate of SIDS deaths- something about being as close as possible to their former environs and hearing/feeling breathing and heartbeats and the ever constant shifting of mom's body reminds the little person to breathe and shift on their own.

Also- unless you go to bed stone drunk, you're not going to crush your child. Most people who have small pets sleep with their pets on the bed (doesn't matter if you admit it or not, you do). Now, raise your hand if you fit that category- sleeping with small pets.

Good. Now keep them in the air if you've ever crushed one to death.

That's what I thought.

The theory is that if you sleep with your child(ren) in bed with you, you'll never have sex again.

Stop it- you're a parent now- you're never having sex again anyway.

Just kidding. But you already know you need to be more...creative and opportunistic than pre-parenthood.

Remember high school? (Hope my mom doesn't read this...)

The theory is that if the kids are sleeping in your bed at age three, they'll still be there at age thirty-three.

Our boy graduated from our bed to a cot in our room at about eight. That was about two years longer than I'd figured on, but to be fair, right after his sixth birthday, the doctors started slicing, dicing and re-arranging his dad, so I cut some slack.

At ten he was in his own room.

The two people who gave me the most shit about "he'll be in your bed forever" themselves were in their parent's bed till they were 12 and 14, respectively. So they can just kiss my ass. My 'clingy spoiled baby' beat them both.

Here's the thing.

In most cultures, the Family Bed is not the exception- it's the norm. Every culture knows that babies who are secure in knowing that their parents are right...HERE will be more confident and independent. What the hell do we teach our babies when we let them 'cry it out' or threaten them with punishment for LEAVING THEIR BEDS when they're scared?

How is "You need to learn that mommy and daddy will be back for you...when we're damn good and ready" in any form reassuring?

I've worked around animals my whole life. Worked for veterinarians for over half my life.

If someone were to call me and say, "My dog is fixin' to have puppies and here's my plan- I'm going to just put them with the mother dog to eat a few times a day and let her clean them up- otherwise they'll be in a box in the other room...because she needs her sleep and the pups need to learn independence" I'd call the law on them for animal neglect and/or cruelty.

Because they're BABIES for cripes sake and babies need to be pretty much attached to their mom.

Get it?

My kids are all confident, capable, brilliant human beings...mostly in spite of me instead of because of me.

But I like to think whatever form of 'attachment parenting' I practiced did some good.

Now, don't even get me started about the barbaric practice of circumcision...

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