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You hear the advice before the baby is born, in the hospital, and once you're at home:
Don't sleep with your baby.
It leads to bad habits.
Never sleep with your baby.
Your baby will probably die.
It has become a divisive topic, with both sides of the argument pleading their case. Some use facts, while others used anecdotal evidence.
It isn't an argument in our house.
It's the only way we get sleep.
In fact, it took only a few hours to realize that if we were going to sleep, Lela would need to be on my or Meghaan's chest, or right next to us.
The first night in the hospital, we were told to wrap Lela in a tight swaddle and put her in the bassinet to sleep.
She screamed and howled and nobody slept.
That's a very unnerving experience for someone who has been a parent for 10 hours. It feels like it won't end and your baby will never forgive you. They'll remember this until they die.
Teenage Lela, walking out the door with a cigarette in hand on her way to meet her future felon boyfriend, looks at us with tears and hatred in her eyes and says "if you would have just let me sleep with you that first night, daddy..."
I picked her up and brought her to the recliner, where I sat for about 10 minutes before I knew I wouldn't be able to keep my eyes open. But Meghaan had just passed this baby through her body, and there was no way I was going to wake her up.
So I did the unthinkable- I purposely slept in the chair with Lela.
It was planned and strategic and, in my opinion, safe. I was wearing a zip-up hoodie, so I opened it up a bit, put Lela on my chest and zipped her body in, keeping her pinned to my chest. Her head stuck out of the top.
Guess what. We all slept.
Since coming home from the hospital, we have struggled with late night crying fits.
Absolute ear-shattering, scream bawling, nuclear meltdown crying fits.
From the baby AND the adults.
At home, we tried to follow the advice and put Lela in a bassinet to sleep.
Immediate scream crying.
When we picked her up, she stopped.
But you had to act quickly. If the fire burned too long, there was no way to put it out.
We decided that we needed to find a safe way to sleep with Lela. So we built her a sleeping fort and now we do what we were told not to do.
But it works for us.
I think it is similar to the discussion about birthing preference.
Medicated or natural.
Hospital or birthing center.
Nurses or midwives.
There's really not a wrong way to do it, as long as the mother and baby are healthy. You do what works for you.
Same with sleeping.
If your baby does well in the crib or bassinet, let them sleep in there. Of course make sure you can hear the baby for their feeding, changing, and comforting cues. But let them sleep in their own bed if they can do it.
The problem is that a lot of us won't be so successful. The baby wants to be with the parents, and vice versa. Skin to skin contact is critical for the newborn, and having the food truck right next to her makes it easier for everyone involved.
I am not an expert, mind you. Just a guy who has slept 2 nights in a row with his baby by his side from start to finish. No late-night calming sessions. Just sleep.
Also, it is much easier for Meghaan to feed Lela if she's right next to her. Which means more sleep. And a happier mommy. Thus a happier family.
What's most important to us is Lela's health. So we aren't going to bed drunk or medicated or otherwise impaired. We aren't putting her in a compromising position.
We are doing the best that we can for us and our baby.
The only argument now is who gets to face Lela as she sleeps.
So far, Meghaan has won. I'll let her face Lela as she sleeps, so long as everyone sleeps. I'll just hog her attention during the day ;)
What do you guys think? Anyone else sleeping with their baby and experiencing success? Anyone sleeping separately and loving the outcome? Comment below and let me know!
I love this sequence of Meghaan putting Lela in an outfit. They are too cute.
Here it is as a GIF. Thanks Obama!
It is with great remorse that I send this correspondence.
On December 26, 2014, the war on sleep came to a screeching halt.
That is not to say that the war is over. But in light of recent events and the outcome of last night's battle, we may need to prepare a new strategy.
The man is celebrating. He's dancing.
He cannot dance. He has the rhythm of a washing machine.
He is hugging mom.
WHY DOES SHE BOTHER? HE IS SO UGLY AND SHE IS SO PRETTY.
They are celebrating. They've brought out cups of their steamy black beverage. This seems to be their way of shrugging off the war that I've devoted my entire life to.
He is sprinting down the hall and has started talking to my allies.
If I don't have the furry miniature beings on my team, who do I have?
Their lack of loyalty will not be forgotten.
I can see him across the room on his communication console, surely preparing a formal declaration of our armistice.
WE ARE NOT DONE HERE, SIR.
What did I do wrong? Was it all the smiling I did? Perhaps when auntie Haley and Krista held me and I opened my eyes, I became a self saboteur.
I cannot believe I fell into his trap. He set me up and I fell for it.
It's hard not to feel like a failure.
I'm rethinking my entire life.
6 days. And for what? What progress have I made in the war against sleep?
The agony of defeat will not soon be forgotten.
You've won the battle, sir. But the war has just begun.
I've got one last attack planned for today, which should help me regain the upper hand.
DOUBLE DIAPER BOMBS
Journal entry- December 24, 2014.
The war on sleep is not over. Our side has made advances in the last few nights, and we will not relent.
The man thinks otherwise, but I don't care what he thinks.
Tonight I heard him talking to mom. I don't even know why she talks to him. He's ugly and she's pretty.
He said something to her in English. I'm still working on the translation and should have something figured out in the next few years.
Then he woke me up.
I WAS SLEEPING, YOU BABBOON!
How do you expect me to continue the war on sleep if I haven't slept?
Then he took my shirt off and tickled me. That was not fun and I cried to let him know what I've got planned for tonight.
Just a preview.
Lots of crying.
And then he sat me in the bouncy seat and walked away.
I like the bouncy seat. I can sleep in it.
UNLESS THERE IS A BUFFOON OF A MAN INTERRUPTING ME.
He giggled like a schoolgirl as he kept touching my nose. And he was singing.
I hate his singing.
The battle has just begun. I know what he's thinking. Keep me awake and I'll forget my strategy for tonight.
Not a chance. The war must go on.
If it comes down to it, I'm not afraid to fight with my fists. Sometimes fists are stronger than lungs.
I was born for this. Bring it on, ugly man.
Lola wanted to meet Lela yesterday.
It went better than expected.
Lola is no princess. She is a barker and nibbler and perpetual skeptic. She learned from an early age that you only trust someone if you're willing to kill them.
The code of the streets.
Lela was in her bouncer and Lola came to say hi. Naturally, we were apprehensive. But it went well.
Lola said hi. Lela gurgled and pooped.
Lola continued to stare. Lela fell asleep.
Lola sniffed Lela. Lela laid there and let it happen.
I'm glad nothing major happened. No biting, barking, or injuries.
The only thing that happened was that I realized our dog's name is very close to our baby's and this is going to be very confusing for both of them.
Every family has a holiday tradition. For many of us, that holiday is Christmas. For most of us, the tradition is pajamas.
Every year I get several pairs of pajamas.
I've never really worn pajamas.
But it's a nice thing that our parents do. And they're usually themed pajamas. So I've got hot sauce pajamas, beer pajamas, Ducks and Blazers pajamas, and High School Musical pajamas.
Just kidding about that last one.
I hope Lela appreciates and looks forward to our traditions when she's older.
Because this is our first Christmas with her, and we weren't exactly ready, I had to make up a couple traditions on the fly.
On Monday I ordered her a book on Amazon and it was here yesterday. So one of our traditions will be that I get her a book and read it to her every Christmas.
And it will probably always be last minute and depend on 2-day shipping, because I am insanely forgetful.
The other involves food, like all good traditions should. We just got a waffle maker as a gift, so the new tradition is late night waffles on Christmas Eve, and again Christmas morning.
That's a tradition I can stick with. I may even extend that one to every weekend during the winter.
In case you're wondering, I didn't wear pajamas when I was making the waffles. But maybe when she's older we will.
Today is a big day for little Lela. For the first time since leaving the hospital, she got to take a ride in the car.
The ride was to and from the doctor's office.
It's strange. We're at the doctor's office on Christmas Eve.
But it's a gift. Lela is healthy and Meghaan is healthy and my family is doing well.
Merry Christmas. I hope your family is also happy and healthy.
Being a parent isn't easy. I've learned that in 3 short days.
Meghaan and I have master's degrees. Our mothers are retired nurses. We have taken classes and read the articles and books and blogs that would best prepare us for parenting. Our friends were ready to support, and support they have.
And guess what- We are not prepared.
But we wanted to get pregnant. This was planned.
What if it wasn't?
If you're a teenage mother, unplanned mother, single mother, or anyone who doesn't have everything figured out before baby arrives-
Shoutout to you.
If you are on your first or fifth baby. If you are a billionaire. If you are recently married. If you're recently divorced.
If you're someone raising a child, shoutout to you.
This is hard. But Meghaan and I feel very supported. We have each other and all of you and we know we can do this.
But it isn't easy. And if you're doing this and struggling, I just want you to know that I understand what it takes and I appreciate what you're doing.
We all owe something to the people who raised us. And your child is not different. He or she owes you the world for your hard work.
Someday they'll get it. For now, hang in there. This sucks. But it will be SO worth it when we see the life we've created, as they start to become their own people.
Now, go get some sleep. Even 20 minutes will save you later in the night.
My name is David, and my wife and I are expecting a baby girl on January 1, 2015.
I have no clue what I am doing, but I cannot wait to meet her. I hope I don't do everything wrong.
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