Before R was born, I meticulously read up on all the latest parenting books
Especially the ones on sleep
For it seemed - sleep problems- is all that the new parents I knew, talked about
I read about sleep scheduling, about the importance to get your baby started on a proper routine
I read about "crying it out"
And how it was really good and kind in the long run to let them cry it out
That by leaving them to sleep by themselves, you are teaching them to be independant
This had made complete sense to be in the months when I was expecting R
But after R was born, I felt different
This little baby had been living inside of my body- till just a few days ago - completely dependant on me -
While independance was important , it felt more important to make him feel secure
( Now, I reasoned, how would it make sense for a helpless infant when it made no sense for me, an adult - After all how would I - an adult - feel , if DH would leave me by myself to "sort my feelings out"/" teach me independance" when I was sad/crying )
And though we tried, R simply was not able to sleep by himself
( I dont mean to criticize the scheduling method - I know it works for many people. It was just not for us and I would realise this much much later when I was to understand SPD and learn about the proprioceptive system and gravitational insecurity. Much later, I would realise that R simply could not realise where he was in space, unless his body was touching another)
It seemed that the only way R would fall asleep or stay asleep was in one of our arms
So we decided to co sleep for just the first few days
And R slept in one of our arms each night
Slowly, in fact , we found ourselves to be full fledged attachment parents
I did not know it then , but it would eventually be 5 more years before R would sleep in a big boy bed by himself
Sleep has never come easy for R
For a good night's sleep , we have to do it all
The behavioral methods- consistent routines
The biological methods- soothing bathtime, dim lights, melatonin
The emotional methods - reading a story of his choice, saying bedtime prayers, snuggles and telling him each night how much I love being his mother
But he does sleep each night
And mostly he sleeps all night
I finish his bedtime a little while ago
We say our prayers of gratefulness
We say goodnight to the fifteen books that are on his shelf
We finish reading "Wild Cats" - R's favorite bed time book for the past two months
I end the book with the line "The big eared cub sleeps safe and sound as it rests besides his mother"
R sighs with staisfaction.
Its his favorite line
I look at my own little eared cub with his arms around his neck and think about this other mother - the African lioness
How this mother in a small southern town in America ( me ) is essentially doing the same bedtime routine as this lioness in Africa
When I look back on those early years - that time when we did not know what was autism, how greatly anxious R's basic personality was, the unusual sensory system he had and his inability to produce enough melatonin -
Even in those years when we had such little information about our child
We still had enough wisdom-that each time we had to make a choice
We followed our instincts
We chose the ways that worked for R
This post has been written for the wonderful Danette's Best of Best Bloggers edition on Sleep
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