An honest take on life and parenthood

My guilty pleasure

on July 18, 2012

ImageOne pre-dawn morning, I dreamed that I had a bowling ball resting on my stomach. I opened my eyes to find the Pooh snoozing away happily, her round head positioned perfectly on my midsection. I couldn’t help but laugh.

Now you know. I sleep with my daughter. It is my guilty pleasure.

The topic of sleep and children is a rich and complex one, but for today, I will just talk about the delightful experience of sleeping with the Pooh. In my single days, and even during my pregnancy, I used to say, “I can’t believe people sleep with their kids. I’ll never do that.”

Look who is eating their words now, with a big old Gerber spoon.

How did this happen? I blame two factors. One, exhaustion. Two, the Pooh’s sweet smell.

For the first four months of the Pooh’s life, she slept in a bassinet right next to my side of the bed. Occasionally during the day, she would doze in the bed with me, and we would snuggle while she made her little baby sounds and drifted off to sleep for one of her cat naps. If she was sick and fussy, I would take her to the nursery. There, in the spare bed by her crib, I would lay down with her, and let her nurse on demand all night, which comforted both of us. I didn’t sleep much, since I was terrified of rolling over on her, but I didn’t care about the stiffness I felt the next day.

Those were the early days. Little did I know that it would become my slippery slope.

Infants sleep in short cycles, and even though the Pooh’s began to lengthen as she grew, I subsisted on broken sleep for a good year until she began to sleep through the night on a regular basis. (I did not “sleep train” her, which was a conscious choice on my part). So I was pretty tired all of the time, and sleeping with her was really a shortcut to get some shuteye myself.

But aside from the exhaustion, her smell pulled on me even more powerfully.  

I didn’t grow up around babies and small children, so I was completely unprepared for my reaction to her from an olfactory perspective. When I first held the Pooh as a newborn, I breathed in her sweet, warm scent and was instantly intoxicated. No one had ever told me how good babies smelled!

From the get-go, the Pooh loved being close to me, and I loved having her next to me. Perhaps scent is one of nature’s tools for ensuring a bond between mommy and baby. I didn’t think about it. All I know is that from that initial cuddle as a newborn, up until this very day, I love snuggling with her.  She nestles up next to me like my own personal piglet, curling into the curve of my body, and smells like a freshly baked loaf of sweet bread. It doesn’t get better than that, let me tell you.

Lest you think this is all rainbows and roses, it isn’t always. It must be confessed that the Pooh is a bed hog.

She does not sleep like a normal human. No. She likes to sleep horizontally across the bed, like the bar in the letter “H.” Her feet or her punkinhead are in the small of my back, pushing me further to the edge, where I cling desperately to the six inch sliver of mattress she has deigned to give me in my own queen-sized bed. She bunches the covers. She steals the pillow. She props her little feet up on my side, as if my waist were her personal footrest. She talks and occasionally cries in her sleep.

And yet, I continue to sleep with this little monkey. I am a self-made glutton for punishment.

Now that she has graduated to a big girl bed of her own (full size, of course), I lay down with her at night and we read Madeline and Olivia the Pig and Dr. Seuss before I turn out the lights.  Since I bathe her every evening, I am treated to the clean smell of her skin mingled with the light fragrance of Johnson’s baby shampoo. She strokes my brown hair as she drifts off to sleep with her favorite blankie, and I relax and drink in her scent.

Once she is asIeep, I carefully untangle my hair from her chubby fingers. I slip out and creep back to bed as quietly as I can. I get under the covers until I hear occasional siren call of “Mommy!” in the night.

Sometimes I eventually get back to my own bed, and sometimes I end up waking up in bed with her the following morning. Either way, it’s all good.

By both of us.

One response to “My guilty pleasure

  1. Lynore says:

    This post almost makes me want to have a baby. From across the computer, I can feel the bond between you and the Pooh…so beautiful and gentle.


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