Friday, January 27, 2012

My baby is alive! Amazing parenting, or dumb luck?

     When Lucien was 2 days old, the hospital pediatrician made a special visit to my bedside - as I'm sure is the practice to do for all new mothers - to let me know if I brought Lucien in bed with us, I would roll over on top of him and smother him to death in his sleep.
      "Just don't do it.  Awful things that I won't even mention could happen."
      More awful than smothering him to death in his sleep?  Jesus.

      And so it began.  The sheer terror of motherhood.

      Of course, he ended up in bed with us.  I was breastfeeding.   He was eating every hour and a half for forty-five minutes.  Invariably and uncontrollably, I would fall asleep during said feedings.  It was probably just for a few short minutes, but would I always wake in a frenzy- visions of that awful pediatrician floating over my head.
Lucien would be happily nuzzled at my boob - fast asleep - and totally breathing.

     When he was 4 months old, we moved to a brownstone - in the middle of winter - that had no heat.  OK, there was some negligible heat, but it was freezing in that house.  The fear of him freezing to death in his crib trumped the fear of one of us smothering him to death in his sleep, so he began to share our bed.
     This is where my nightly terrors moved from, I'm going to roll over onto him, to my husband is going to smother him with a pillow.  "Never, ever, ever let a baby sleep next to anyone but a breastfeeding mother!  A breastfeeding mother is the only being in tune with the baby enough not to roll over onto it and kill it in its sleep."  I shouldn't be using quotes here, because I am totally paraphrasing- but you get the picture.  Parenting books are awful.
     Well, being the in-tune breastfeeding mother that I was, I managed to hear him ruffling around and woke up to find Lucien under my husband's pillow.  Husband fast asleep.  Almost killed the baby guilt ensues.  I don't sleep for the rest of the night.

     The next day I decide to take a Silkwood-style shower to wash off the bad parenting guilt.  You know what?  No one tells you how impossible it is to shower when you have a newborn.  Or use the bathroom.  Or make breakfast.  Or do anything that doesn't involve being right next to that little human whom you are sure requires 100% of your attention at all times, lest he slip into an abyss and become fodder for a tragic parenting horror story.
     "That poor baby.  If only that awful mother didn't have to go to the bathroom.  How selfish."
     Back then he was still small enough to constantly nap in his car seat.  He loved that thing.  We never had any problems keeping him in it, and we could use the adjustment strap in the front of it to rock him to sleep.  I'll repeat here - we never had any problems keeping him in it.  Zero.  Not one.
     I wait for him to fall asleep in his seat, and I sprint to the bathroom to shower.  About a minute into it, my mommy spidey senses go off and I jump out of the shower and run through the apartment - naked and dripping - to find Lucien has kicked his way out of the car seat.  But not all the way out.  His legs and torso are dangling over the front, just enough to buckle his chin into his chest - basically choking himself.
     Holy Shit.
     That makes two times in 24 hours that I have almost killed my child.
     Teenagers have babies and manage to keep them alive.  Did you see the movie Babies?  The Mongolian Nomads tie their toddler to a bedpost with a long string, and leave him to watch over their infant while they are gone for the day- and that infant stays alive.
What the hell is wrong with me? 

     It was then that I realized that the pediatrician in the hospital wasn't evil.  She was just instilling a necessary dose of terror.  I mean how better to describe the horror of being responsible for keeping another being alive, than by implying that you may actually kill it yourself - in your sleep.  Never mind the countless waking hours of keeping this little human happy and fed and thriving - you may actually kill it in your sleep.  Hooray!  Welcome to motherhood!

     That's enough for today.  I think I just saw Lucien put a quarter in his mouth.


  1. "We didn't bother putting up tents that night. We gathered rushes and grass to make beds on. Bella lay with her baby cuddled in her arms. All traveller women did this,and never have I heard of one being smothered---although I have seen babies sucking away at their sleeping mothers breast.Yet the mother would awaken instantly if the baby coughed or was sick or struggled for more space.So Bella"s baby was cozy enough although we had no tents up." Passage from "The Yellow On the Broom" the early days of travller women by Betsy Whyte. Notice that there was no mention of her husband sleeping with her on her makeshift bed with her child . A mothers instinct is an amazing thing and it has been around since the dawn of time. xoxo L.B.

  2. Holy Sh*T!!! LMAO!!! Reading through your old posts and could NOT stop laughing in my office!!!!!!!!!! I knew the horrific feeling!! I finally let Madison out of our bed and my hubby couldn't ne happier!

  3. Our son only really slept in our bed in the first few weeks because he didn't like sleeping in the bassinet (until I put a pillow under his mattress). He turned one yesterday and my husband still occasionally wakes with a start, convinced he has rolled over onto the baby. Love your blog! Check mine out? It's not all about being a mom... not that I've really blogged about anything else since my son was born.

  4. Mine fell off the bed onto a pillow that I had thrown on the floor. Needless to say that was his last night in bed with us.
    Scared me to death.
    For our third we used a bassinett next to our bed and then got smart and used the removable bassinett from his stroller right in the middle of us. It was no light little object that would flip or anything...he stayed safe and secure right between us til he got on a good breast/bottle feeding schedule.
    That stroller was the best thing since sliced bread.