I have a confession to make. I co-sleep. I know, I know, there was no stronger opponent to this abhorrent practice than myself. As a physician, I have had the unpleasant, heart-breaking task of pronouncing four babies dead from Sudden Infant Death Syndrome, and all but one of these was due to co-sleeping. Now granted, alcohol or drugs were involved in each of these cases, but that did not alter the tragic look on the parent’s faces, or my hardline stance on the practice. It was during this depressing time in my life that I determined that I no longer wanted to work in an Emergency Department setting. It was also when I became a strong adversary to the co-sleeping movement. I preached loudly to patients and friends alike about the dangers of co-sleeping and how they would most certainly roll over and smother their baby beneath their ponderous, non-organic food eating American fat rolls.
That was BBB or Before Baby Bird. I understand that there are some co-sleeping, baby-wearing, attachment-parenting, modern hippies who actually enjoy co-sleeping and do this as a matter of personal preference. I assure you I am not in this crowd. I enjoy building a pillow fort around myself and having as much sleeping space to myself as possible. I would get twin beds like Lucy and Ricky if my husband would let me. My co-sleeping experience is a little less granola and a little more like being held hostage by a tiny tyrant.
Baby Bird will absolutely not sleep without being able to both touch and see me, and if Baby Bird doesn’t sleep, then NO ONE sleeps. We have tried tricking her by putting a pack and play or a co-sleeper in the room, even shoved up next to the bed with my arm draped precariously off the edge of our bed to be in constant contact with her minute, heaving chest. Baby Bird is neither fooled nor appeased by that. She wants to be IN our bed, and as of late she has added an extra entertaining and particularly demanding element to her evening routine.
The newest element of torture she has employed against us is obligatory hand holding. That’s right, hand holding. I must take her diminutive fist in mine and hold it between my hands until she falls asleep. Don’t tell my captor, but I secretly love this part of the bedtime ritual. She caresses my hand with her free hand over and over again until she falls asleep while wriggling her petite captive hand betwixt my palms. I fall asleep happy every night.
Then, the creeping sensation settles in. I am in that dreamlike state somewhere between waking and sleeping. It is subtle at first, a gradual loss of proprioception. We have all experienced it. Your body is heavy and you no longer can feel where your leg is in space without twitching it slightly. I know logically that my hands still encase this petite treasure in their grasp, but I can no longer feel her movement against my palms. Occasionally she will quiver in her sleep and I will feel her precious presence. Sometimes, even though I know it may wake her, I stir slightly myself to feel her move.
I reflect on my relationship with God. When I am standing still and refusing to move in my faith it is harder and harder to feel His presence. Sometimes I will feel a flicker of his movement over me in my stagnation, but in order to really feel Him, and I mean really feel Him, I find that I must move. Even if it is the slightest shadow of a movement toward Him, I am rewarded by the feeling of His enveloping presence.
For now, I will enjoy the ephemeral, all too transient feel of my baby’s touch. I wonder if God in His omnipresence and eternal nature finds our touch so fleeting as well, as this time passes us by, or can He just revisit joyful times with us at his will?