Thursday, July 26, 2012

Confessions of a Nursing Moo Cow

When I was pregnant, I read up on the pros and cons of co-sleeping. Rayne and I had decided to borrow the Arm's Reach Mini Co-Sleeper from my cousin, because we thought it was the best of both worlds: The baby would be right next to me but not actually in the bed, where Rayne was sure he would roll over and crush him.
Arm's Reach Mini Co-Sleeper - definitely a win-win option

In retrospect, I doubt any crushing would have occurred, because for the first month of Henry's little life, I would often wake up to Rayne leaning over me and into the co-sleeper, blowing on the baby's face to make sure he was still breathing. I think as new parents we underestimate our baby-dar: it's much more attuned than we think.

Anyway, I secretly thought that when the baby was born, I would want him to actually sleep in the bed with me, but for the sake of keeping our bed a "sacred" couple space, I didn't press the issue.

After Henry was born, we sometimes took naps together in the mornings after Rayne went to work. It was definitely sweet and comforting for both of us. But overall, I actually preferred having him in the co-sleeper at night, so Rayne and I could have a modicum of space, both physical and metaphorical.

Sort of ugly picture of me sweetly cuddling Henry during our morning nap, 1/27/12

At the time, we lived in a one-bedroom apartment with no plans to move, so Henry was going to be in our room for the foreseeable future. We had some vague plans of transferring him to a Pack-n-Play when he got bigger, perhaps even in the living room, aka the only other room in the apartment. Lucky boy.

At first, I was thankful for having him in our room because a) I was up every two hours anyway, and it was more convenient for breastfeeding and b) we were sure that Henry was going to spontaneously combust in the middle of the night, and, well, we thought we should at least be there to try to put out that fire.

What I didn't tell Rayne was that I thought I would want him in our room much longer than the six months recommended by the American Academy of Pediatrics. I thought I would be the type who knew he should move to a crib in another room, but didn't want him to.

Then, for reasons already noted, I flipped out and decided we needed to move to Brooklyn immediately. We got a two-bedroom apartment, of course, so Henry could have a little nursery. We signed the lease back in February when the baby was still only two months old. I never told Rayne, but I was planning to have Henry sleep in our bedroom at night and maybe nap in the nursery during the day. I didn't think I could bear to have him in the next room.

Around the time he hit four months, though, the whole sleeping-in-the-room thing was starting to get old. We had begun to establish a schedule of sorts, and his bedtime was between 7 and 7:30. That meant that after that time, we couldn't do anything in our bedroom, which was half of our apartment. We had no space to ourselves. When Henry was up he was with us and when he was down he was with us.

Suffice it to say, by the time we moved, when he was almost five months, I was counting the days until our new apartment would save us from our tip-toeing existence. We parked the co-sleeper in the nursery (which is right next to our bedroom anyway) and he slept there until we got a crib (from my sister -- it pays to be the last cousin/sibling to have kids).

All of this prologue is to say that I hope the same epiphany will occur when it's time for Henry to stop nursing. I really like nursing him; it is an intimacy that is difficult to describe. There is something soothing and affirming about rocking him in the nursing chair in the still of the night. He goes down so early now that after a few hours I actually miss inhaling his sweet scent, kissing his little cheeks and holding him tight to my chest. 

Now that he is sleeping through the night, I should be jumping for joy, but on nights like last night, when momsomnia takes over, I really miss the times when he was still waking up once to feed. (Just to clarify, I do not miss getting up every two to three hours.) I sometimes stare at the baby monitor while Rayne is sleeping heavily beside me. I turn on the sound and try to listen for Henry's breath, but all I can hear is the whir of the fan.

So last night when he awoke crying at around 12:30 am for the first time in I can't remember how long, I was actually, guiltily happy. I changed his diaper and we settled into the nursing chair. I slept with him a little while he nursed. It was blissful.

I plan to wean Henry when he turns one; I'm terrified I will be emotionally and hormonally devastated. I'm hoping that nature will take its course, that both our bodies will know instinctively that it is time to stop, that it won't be as heart-wrenching as I'm anticipating.

It will crush my soul to hear him cry out for moo cow when I know I must resist. I wouldn't want him to think his love was unrequited.

There, I'm crying. Are you happy now?