ah, sleep...i vaguely remember so many people giving me a knowing smile when i was pregnant and saying things like, "be sure to sleep as much as you can now because, before you know it, you will be so sleep deprived!" i never really liked such comments. how did they know what MY baby would be like? why couldn't they say something encouraging instead? later, when tristan was about a month old, i remember walking around in a zombie-like state, wondering WHY in the WORLD nobody warned me? instead of throwing a happy baby shower, they should have thrown a mournful gathering where everyone could have explained exactly how painful and emotional and inadequate i was going to feel. i could no longer understand why people got all excited when told the news that we were expecting. why didn't they rather get a concerned look on their faces, while telling me that they'd be praying for me? at least then i might have had SOME clue as to how DIFFICULT it would all be.
before tristan came home from the hospital, we thought we had it all worked out. everyone we knew had used a bassinet for the first few weeks, keeping the baby at arms reach. we, however didn't think that was necessary. we set up his crib in his own room and added little foam "blocks" in the middle, to keep him kind of walled in and cozy. we were sure that by doing this, we wouldn't be awakened so many times by every little noise he made next to our bed. on leaving the hospital, however, the pediatrician recommended that we keep him as close as possible to our bed, in a bassinet. you see, he had swallowed a bit of meconium in utero and was having a lot of it come back out through coughing fits. we were to keep the bassinet angled so that he would have a smaller chance of choking. GREAT! that's what every new parent wants to hear: keep your baby close by so that you can hear if they start choking at night. if that wasn't enough to keep my eyes plastered wide open at night, tristan had a little "episode" when he was five days old. he stopped breathing for awhile and his lips turned blue. josh had to pound on his back to get him going again. then, later that night after i had fed him, it happened again. a phone call to the pediatrician gave us the news that it was only the result of an "immature digestive system" and that it shouldn't happen again. i don't think i've cried so often as i did over that next week. thankfully, my mom was helping us out and she did her best to keep me sane, but i literally lived in fear of my little boy suffocating. all through the night, my tired body slept fitfully, awaking every single hour. if it wasn't time to feed him, i'd turn on the light and put my hand on his chest to feel it rise and fall, or touch his head to make sure it was still warm. to be completely honest, i still check on him every time he naps and if i happen to awaken during the night. a scare like the one we had is not easily forgotten.
well, the day came when my husband told me it was time to move tristan from his "bassinet" (which was really just a plastic storage bin lined with blankets) in our room to his crib in the nursery waaaaay at the other end of the house. i fought it, but in the end he convinced me. "this is what baby monitors are for" he said. he was right; i realized that if i turned the monitor up loud enough, i could actually hear tristan breathing! gradually the volume on the monitor went lower and lower, but that didn't stop my mind from working overtime. when i wasn't giving tristan his middle of the night feeds, i was dreaming about it. actually, in my dreams i was always feeding him in our bed, then putting him beside me and falling asleep. moments later, i'd awaken and madly start ripping at the blankets, trying to find my little baby hidden somewhere in amongst them, probably suffocating. sometimes i'd actually think i had found him and i would walk in my sleep to the nursery, to put him back in his crib. there, i would discover that there was already a baby in the crib. i would look down to see the baby i was holding, discover that my arms were empty and that i had been dreaming, and would go back to bed. this would happen over and over, every night. often i would wake josh up, in a panic, saying "where is he? did you roll over him?" i would dream that he spit up in our bed, so i would get a cloth to wipe it up with, only to find that he wasn't in our bed after all. basically, i didn't have a single good hours sleep for about 8 weeks.
one evening i went to bed early and i suppose i had been dreaming that i was nursing tristan. josh came in the room to go to sleep and i got out of bed with my arms folded in front of me. it was dark and he couldn't see that well, so he asked me what i was doing "i'm just going to put tristan back into bed." puzzled that i seemed to be holding tristan even though josh had just checked on him, he asked me how long i had had him for. "oh, i just finished feeding him" i told josh. at this point, i began to wake up a little and wondered if i was just dreaming, but i felt tristan's head in one hand and his little bum in the other. then i looked down and realized that it wasn't tristan that i was cradling; it was my own chest! yup, he was small enough at that point (and i was big enough) that i suppose his head and my breast were approximately the same size and weight. both josh and i realized at the same time what was going on and we just about killed ourselves laughing. and, of course, the story has since been repeated many times to many people.
the dreams have quieted down quite a bit over the past few weeks, though an occasional one slips through. last night i thought that tristan was sleeping on josh's chest. it was so vivid that i even knew which sleeper he was wearing. i walked to josh's side of the bed and shook him, telling him to "give tristan to me so that i can put him in his crib". by now, josh is used to my nightly rambles, so he pretty much ignored me and turned over. i clued in right away that i had been dreaming. but that still didn't stop me from going to tristan's crib, peering over it, and watching his little chest rise and fall.