Dirty Little Secret

I have a dirty little secret. It's about what happens behind the closed doors of my bedroom at night. I know what you are thinking! Get your mind out of the gutter! I'm a mother!

Some of you know my secret already so it's not really a true secret which is why I've decided to share it with everyone. Here goes: my baby turns six months old this weekend and she still sleeps in the bed with me. That's right, my little baby bun snuggles right up next to me each and every night so that she has easy access to her midnight (and 3 and 5 and 6:15) snack. Our little bed situation means a number of things: First, I go to bed at 8pm because that is when Charlotte goes to bed and I fall asleep while she nurses and if I try to get up, even for a shower, she wakes up and screams. Second, Andy sleeps anywhere but in our bed. Half of the time, before baby, he'd fall asleep in Caroline's bed during her story, or on the couch, to then wake up at 3 am and crawl into our bed for the last few hours of the night. Now, he more or less steers clear of the room and honestly, there is little room for him anyway. Third, I don't really get a good night sleep because I'm half awake feeding her several times or I'm worried that I've rolled onto her or I'm cold because I can't pull the sheets up over me. Finally, my baby rules the roost. She has full and total control and while she wraps her hand around my finger while she sleeps and eats, I'm the one who is actually wrapped around her little finger.

Yes, I know. I'm a bad, bad, mom. I'm horrible. I'm just awful. I'm weak and my child is going to end up something real bad and awful when she grows up. "The Moms" also known as Deborah and Maureen, have made it loud and clear that I'm doing myself and my child a disservice. I've received counsel in the form of phone calls, emails and in-person discussions. It seems my very own mum has forgotten that she smoked during her pregnancy, her labor and for the first 15 or so years of my life. And, she told me bears were going to come and eat me in an effort to scare me and keep me from playing in our yard while she slept. Sorry, Moe, we all have our dirty little secrets, right?

I've tried "sleep training." It's so hard, as a sleep deprived adult, to think that we have to train our children to fall asleep. Sleeping is my all-time favorite activity. Why, oh why, do children fight doing the one thing most adults crave the most? I've read the various techniques and trust me, I've given them a shot. Last weekend, while Andy and Caroline snoozed happily in my bed, I attempted the Ferber method, which is to let your child cry it out. The method recommends that mom or dad enter the baby's room at increasing- length intervals of 1, 3,5 and 10 minutes. One must not pick up the babe, only soothe, before leaving the room. Eventually the child will cry herself to sleep and within a week or so, little bun will be sleeping soundly on her own, no more booby or mommy required for happy snoozing. The method also recommends that mom and dad do something relaxing while baby cries it out, like play cards, listen to music or watch a movie. Let me repeat: the method recommends that mom AND dad do this TOGETHER.

So after two hours of listening to Charlottte scream bloody murder, and as the clock ticked dangerously near midnight (the time in which the magic wears off and I stop being an amazing super mom and go back to being just a plain old tired, angry mom), I gave in. I picked her up and brought her back to my room and put her in the bed which Andy and Caroline had just sleepily vacated. Andy did return to the bed and tried to play with Charlotte. I yelled at him, told him to shut up and turned off the light. As I lay awake, nursing Charlotte to sleep, Andy snored. I felt violent. I envisioned slamming his head into the wall. Instead, I pinched his nose repeatedly. He woke up, stared at me and slurred, "What? What? Am I snoring?" The silence cut the room and my blood boiled. Sensing a dangerous female, he got up and left the room, seeking safer sleeping quarters.

Sometimes I feel like I've been raising Charlotte on my own. I'm not sure if Andy was quite as convinced about the need for a second child as I was and Caroline was so needy during my pregnancy that he had little time to enjoy the life we were growing. For survival's sake we have often divvied up child care and Andy manages Caroline while I take care of Charlotte. Plus, I work and when I'm not working I'm caring for both of the kids and I need all of the energy I can get to get through every day. I sleep with my baby because it is easy. And because I like it.

I need love and affection. I'm needy and touchy feely. I like hugs. I often touch people on the shoulder when I talk with them. I love a good back or foot rub. Yet, for those of you who know him, you are aware that Andy is not touchy feely. He does not like PDAs or Private DAs for that matter. He's likely touching his Blackberry when he talks with people. In his mind, giving a back rub is a means to an end, if you get where I'm going. After a hard day, I could use a hug, Andy could use a cold beer.

This morning, when it was still dark out, and Charlotte and I were curled up in bed, she rolled away from me. Then, she reached out into the darkness to search for me. She grasped my finger in her hand, gave a big sigh and kept sleeping. I really love this level of intimacy with my child. She loves me so much right now. I'm her world, the center of her universe. I gave her life and I continue to nurture and nourish her. After being away from her for 8 plus hours each day I would much rather snuggle in bed with her than put her to sleep in her crib and go back to my bed alone. But, that bed doesn't have to just occupy one. I think moms sometimes substitute their children for their husbands. Sure, he's not as cute and he often does choose his smart phone over me, but Andy loves me and I think he'd be willing to snuggle with me if I asked. And he might even hold my hand in his while we sleep.

I'm going to try sleep training again and I'm going to ask Andy to help me with it. Maybe he'll rub my feet while we listen to Charlotte cry it out in her crib.

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