Back before Ezra was born, I didn’t think I’d be so excited to put my baby in a crib. I really thought we’d co-sleep for a long time, maybe just use the cribs for naps. Like so much else with parenting, it didn’t exactly happen the way I thought.
Co-sleeping, which is just a technical term for “baby sleeping in your bed with you,” got off to a rocky start for us. I’m about to tell you all a secret, a story I’ve so far only told a few close mom friends in unguarded moments. On his third night home from the hospital, I dropped Ezra off the side of the bed. I was moving him over to breastfeed on my right side, and he was really swaddled up and kind of cylindrical, and I took my hand off him and he just rolled right off.
We had to call our pediatrician at 2 am to confess that I was a terrible mother and find out how bad the brain damage would be. “Is he crying?” she whispered, groggily. Yes. “Is he eating?” Yes. “Then he’s fine.” And he was.
Even so, I couldn’t sleep that whole night. Suddenly the prospect of nursing in bed, which had seemed so comforting and convenient, started to seem a little scary. I could do it on my left side, facing into the middle of the bed, but on my right side, I had to sit up or turn all the way around to put my head at the foot of the bed. It was a hassle. Plus we couldn’t figure out where to put him. I was terrified of blankets getting on his face, or Sandy smushing him.
These things are all really small. We could have found solutions. But we didn’t, because it turned out he slept much better in his bouncy seat, which held him at an angle. Later, when he outgrew the bouncy seat, we discovered that he slept pretty well in the borrowed bassinet we put at the foot of our bed. It worked for us for almost three months.
Then, we went to New York and two things happened. First, we spent a few nights staying on an air mattress at my friend’s apartment, and it turned out that the best place to sleep Ezra was on a folded-up quilt on the floor of the tiny office that opened off the living room. He wasn’t more than ten feet away, but he was through a doorway, and on the other side of the air conditioner, and suddenly I couldn’t hear his every grunt and snuffle. I slept better, and I liked it.
The second thing was that he outsmarted even my most creative swaddling attempts. I had by that time resorted to putting him in footie pajamas, and wrapping a velcro swaddling blanket just around his arms like a little straitjacket. On our third night in New York, I found him in the morning two feet from where I’d put him on the mat, perpendicular, lying on his side, with the straitjacket swaddle around his waist like a cummerbund.
In other words, he outgrew the bassinet. Our first night back from the trip I put him in it anyway, and it was a disaster, all flailing arms and legs pushing against the edges, trying to find space to move and turn.
So, now he sleeps in a crib in his own room, and it’s mostly working out pretty well. He’s getting more and more sleep each night (usually sleeping in two or three shifts over the course of 10-11 hours total), usually in a hilarious flopped-out position that we never get tired of staring at.
My new favorite time of day is 7 am, when he wakes up contented and well-rested, and lies in his crib gurgling. When I come in the room and look over the railing, he is so excited to see me again that he can’t contain his giant infectious smiles.