Nighttime parenting

16 05 2011

The human hand contains four main nerves that receive
information from cell neurons within the hand. I feel each neuron in my hand pulse
as I rub Sidney’s back and the tingling sensation that results from the
constant back and forth motion radiates into my arm. I should, in theory, rub
her back for ten more minutes to ease her into the next, deeper sleep cycle.
But my nerves protest. I gradually slow down my hand movements, second by
second, until I stop completely. I keep my hand gently pressed upon her back
and then start to ease the pressure. I hold my breath, my stomach clenches. Is
she? Could she be asleep? I hold my breath for a few seconds longer. Just when
I begin to rest my head back down upon the bed, she twitches. She shoots up in a
crawl position and turns around 90 degrees and makes a soft thud sound as she
drops back down to the bed. I start counting silently, one one thousand, two one
thousand, three one thousand…

Up again, and now she crawls toward me in a drunken manner
and slams her forehead against mine. Her head falls under my chin for a second
before she presses her left hand against my chest, grabbing skin and breast as
she props herself up onto her hands and knees. She obviously is not falling
back asleep without nursing.

I reach for her as she crawls away from me and I place her next
to me so that we’re laying side-by-side facing each other. I arrange my sleep
bra and her mouth instantly grasps onto my breast. I wait a few minutes in
anticipation, watching her eyes shut tighter and tighter, and soon become aware
that her sucking has slowed down. Her vice-like grip begins to ease and I can
barely feel her mouth moving rhythmically on my breast. Now is the time to
unlatch!

For the past week, I have been trying to implement Elizabeth
Pantley’s (author of No Cry Sleep
Solution)
methods to gently ease Sidney into dream world for longer
stretches of time. I see improvements, but it is too soon to gage results.

Nighttime parenting has endeared itself to me. Regardless of
my nightly joy four to eight times each night, I need better sleep now that her
9 month mark is approaching and my energy reserve is on empty. I am not looking
for her to sleep through the night. I think I would be sad at this point to let
go of all wee-hour feedings. But two times a night would enhance the joy and my
level of energy. I might even regain some of my verbal skills. My poor husband
is exasperated with my directions: “Put this over there near the
thing-a-ma-jig. No! Not there! What do you think I mean?”

For now, I will remind myself to enjoy these moments. After
all, I would rather wake up to my child needing me than blink and find myself
sixteen years in the future, waking up to find my child trying to sneak out of
the house!