Wrapped up in a feather comforter and snuggled up with the cat and husband (in that order), I sweetly pass from dream to dream in content bliss. But something in me stirs and my maternal instincts reach out from my slumber to realize, Oh SHIT! WHERE’S THE BABY?!
In a frantic daze I throw off the cat and the covers and rifle through the sheets. She’s not there. I crawl on the floor and worm underneath the bed only to find a couple of bewildered dogs. She’s not there. I break out into a cold sweat and feel a wail rising in my chest. OH GOD, WHERE’S MY BABY?
By this time my clawing and whimpering have awakened my husband who grabs me by the shoulders, gives me a loving shake and reminds me that our sweet little Birdie is asleep in her crib in the other room where we put her to bed each and every night. But in my sleepy haze I don’t believe him. “No!” I cry. “I can’t find her! She’s not here in the bed.” By this time tears are beginning to roll steadily down my face in warm, fat drops. In order to make me understand, The Cubs Fan has to hand me the video baby monitor so that I can see for myself that she’s safely sleeping in her crib in the nursery. And it is about this time that I become fully aware of the situation and slip out of my dream state back into reality.
Ah yes, just another night in the crunchy household.
You see, I’ve always been a sleepwalker. My mom told me that she would find me asleep in the oddest places when I was a kid, like the hallway or living room floor. When I was in junior high I would crawl around the house on hands and knees searching for my retainers which were always in my mouth. In high school I drove (yes, drove) across town in the wee hours of the morning to pick somebody up for swim practice only to wake up in my car and realize what time it really was. (I then had to drive home and explain to my father why I was out driving at 3am. Fortunately the fact that I was wearing my swim suit and crying hysterically helped convince him that I wasn’t lying about the sleep driving. Needless to say my keys were confiscated every evening before bed.) And in college, well, my freakish sleep behavior became a staple of late-night comedy for my fellow co-ed dormers who enjoyed watching me chase invisible dogs up and down the hallway in my pajamas.
Before Birdie arrived, I could deal with the sleepwalking as it was more of a nuisance than anything else. But now, the almost nightly nightmare of the missing baby has me on edge. I can’t emotionally handle night after night of searching for Birdie, especially on the nights when The Cubs Fan is sleeping at the fire station. Since he works 48 hour shifts, I spent many of my nights alone, meaning a longer time between the awful search and the moment of realization that she’s in her crib. But what do I do about this?
Here’s the kicker. I don’t sleepwalk when we co-sleep.
This seems like a no-brainer right? Why would I dream of a missing baby when she’s actually in the bed and not missing? But I think that the reason for a peaceful night’s sleep when co-sleeping goes deeper than that. I’m a mammal, and mammals nurse their babies and, if you humor me here, co-sleep. It’s natural and normal to do so in the animal kingdom.
It’s just maternal instinct to want to have your baby sleep close enough to breastfeed and protect from predators throughout the night. And so, I have come to the conclusion that my inner mammalian mothering instinct has decided to revolt against my decision not to co-sleep by invading my subconscious dream-state and forcing me to look for the baby.
After almost 4 months of picking up the physical and emotional wreckage of my nightly search, I’m ready to listen. It’s time to give co-sleeping another chance.
Now to just get The Cubs Fan on board…