16 September 2011

Polar Bear Momma

It is 9:21pm on a Friday night and I have managed to take all of my vitamins, brush my teeth, wash my face, with soap! apply toner!! and still have some juice in me before the baby stirs and realizes I am not next to him at which point I will head to bed, catch up on Facebook via an iPhone app, and maybe add a play to my Words with Friends game I've had running for a couple days now, all while nursing the sleepy child back to dreaming, before drifting to sleep myself. This blog post is my last attempt at something "productive" today in a moment of quiet and stillness that feels stolen and fleeting these days.

I am thinking tonight about the type of mother I have chosen to become. Specifically about sleep and choosing to co-sleep with my baby. It's a damn lazy choice, though not without its costs and challenges. I say lazy, because the nature of co-sleeping allows for a baby's needs to be met immediately and with as little movement on the mother's part. He is eleven months old this week and he and I have somehow evolved together into a bundled mass where he is able to find the nipple in his sleep and I am able to sleep through his rooting and feeding, barely noticing the shifting and prodding.

This is how most nights of the week drift blissfully by.

Then there are the nights that look like this: Momma waking with baby's leg flung across her abdomen,  his torso stretched up over her breast, his little neck and head deadweight from sleep and across her face, cheek to neck! He's pushed his way so close there is no space for breathing.

I slowly attempt to remove the body from my body without waking him and his reaction is to flail and squirm in such a way that it flings his body back up over and on top of mine in an equally contorted and inconceivable position before I have time to shift my own limbs or protest. And he does all this without waking.

I am reminded of the mother polar bear I saw on a nature show. Her cubs are rolling, tumbling, grabbing, biting, and clambering over her and she is a stoic lump, only moving once in a while to casually slough them off her, or catch one as he rolls a little too far over the ice. I can only dream to be so nonchalant at 3am and wanting only to sleep, uninterrupted and without a human growth glued to my face. But then again, I am as that polar momma. I let the baby be the baby. I let him sleep the way he sleeps best, even if it's curled into my neck, or face stretched up into my armpit and hands clasping my thumb and hair, so entwined and locked together.

This was my choice. I chose the path of least resistance in parenting. And I've read all the books. I am a very well-informed decision-maker when it comes to parenting thus far. There isn't one choice I've made without consulting every expert, mother, grandmother, and website out there for the best possible option for my child. I am sound in my co-sleeping arrangement. I do not always sleep soundly, however. But then, what mother truly does. Sacrifice is the name of this game.

On this rare night where the baby has fallen asleep before I am ready and willing to crash with him, I am savoring the opportunity to wash my face like I once did, when I cared what my face looked like the next day. I care more now for the magical moment when dreaming begins after a day of chasing my almost-walker from one "no" to the next "no!" (the decision to use "no" is another joy of parenting, if one can call it a decision of parenting. Again, I chose the lazy route here, knowing I am incapable of the dedication it takes to conduct a household where "no" is used sparingly and all other avenues of communicating are utilized first. I bow to any mother who takes that on.)

To sleep to dream. To sleep to sleep to sleep. To sleep in...

Goodnight all, that's all I have in me to say, on that. ~AD.

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