Thursday, February 16, 2012

on sleep, and hope, and fear

I am practicing a form of attachment parenting I guess, not because I care to follow rules to parent by, but because I have recently discovered a book that described attachment parenting and became aware that, hey, that's what I am doing.  It just came naturally.  When you have a child that you have struggled for years and years to have, you naturally don't want to separate from him/her, so you carry the child everywhere, preferably on your body, and sleep with him or her, and breathe with that child, and do everything you can short of seeing clients at work with Emma in the baby Bjorn.

And I am enjoying it immensely.  She is such a sweet, good natured child, talkative and full of life, with inquisitive dark eyes that seem so soft and velvety at the same time.  I love her with all I have.  And I adore sleeping with her at night, in our family bed.  The only issue I have is that I would like her to start learning to fall asleep by herself.  It is an important life skill, the ability to be quiet and put oneself to sleep.  It also gives me a bit of a break to do my nails, and that is important ;)

I just have to decide how to do it.  Should I let her cry?  I put her in bed, and give her some boob, then she gets drowsy and often falls half asleep, after which I usually leave her in the room and go in the living room space just outside the door.  If she wakes up, I don't go back in there unless she cries heart-fully, if she just whimpers then I leave her.   She usually talks to herself, and plays with the pillows and bedspreads, until she falls asleep, when I go in and cover her up.  She has fallen asleep quite a few times like this, and I know she doesn't like it, but she doesn't dislike it terribly either.  She would rather just have me there, with the boob in her mouth, preferably the entire night.  If I do go in and stay, then she plays with me and doesn't sleep, so I leave after five minutes of soothing, and try again.

This usually happens around 8 pm, and the whole process of her falling asleep takes about half an hour.  Sometimes more, sometimes less.  I go to bed at ten, so I have about one hour to myself, if I am lucky.  I often fall asleep earlier than my usual bedtime though, because I am still quite tired, with the 7 am wake up call that Emma gives me.  I am not a lark, by any means.  I wish the world would stay in bed until eight, which is, as far as I am concerned, the only civilized wake up time there is.  (If you guys have to get up at five or six to go to work, you have my heartfelt sympathy.  I had to do it for one month when I was working on a surgical ward, and I gained 7 lb because of constant eating in order to stay awake).  But I digress.  There is lots written on sleep, both for infants and adults, and I am fascinated by all the reading material, however I still don't know if letting her cry is helpful, and to what extent.  So far, I guess I am doing a graduated extinction method, but if anyone out there has tried something different and it worked, let me know.

I have recently seen a few clients at work with infertility issues, and it makes me review my feelings about the topic, now that I have a child that is, thank God, alive and well.  As time went on, I started to believe more and more that Emma is here to stay, and the fear of SIDS and other dangers has passed almost entirely.  With that, I also have a deep contentment, that of having a child.  She seems pretty solidly lodged in my life at the moment, and I have high hopes of having that oh-I-want-so-much ending of dying before she does.  You know, that ending that we all deserve, of being outlived by our children.

My feelings about infertility right now are indeed still the same that I had before, namely isolation, inferiority, defectiveness, anger, unfairness, struggle, and also reverence, and awe, lots of awe, at how much is possible nowadays compared to 100 years ago for women like me.   And gratitude for these possibilities that give us hope.  I think that is the big difference, I focus on the hope instead of on the fear that "it won't work".  Sure, it's easy for me to do that now, compared to before I had tried my first IVF, or before I had my term pregnancy.  It's infinitely easier to hope now that I will be able to do it again, then it was back in time, four years ago, when I was getting negative after negative pregnancy test.  If I could go back in time and talk to the me that was peeing on yet another stick with a single red line on it, I would tell myself to rather focus on the hope than on the hopelessness.  I felt hopeless and that made me lose enjoyment in life, for months and years.  Why?  What for?  Sure, I might have not succeeded.  But then I would have had to deal with that reality at the end of a few hope-filled years, and yes, it would have been final and hard and sad for a long time, but being so scared for so long led to difficult times.

On the other hand, I was not completely hopeless, since I persisted with the treatments despite so many obstacles.  I must have had somewhere in my mind the possibility that it would work.  However, I can honestly say that I was on very familiar terms with future-childless-MrsH, while this mommy-MrsH is a foreign lady.  She suits me just fine all the same though :)

I guess what I mean to say is that I have not forgotten the issue.  I have graduated from the school of hard knock-ups, and learned too much to ignore.  But other than the advice of clinging on to hope, I have nothing else to give to people.  Cling on to hope.  In the absence of guarantees, it's all there is.  It is a gift you can give to yourself (and only you can choose to accept it).  Accept it.  It will make months and years of your life easier.  In the end, you will be able to deal with the final outcome just as well regardless of whether you have hoped or feared.  Fear does not help fill the emptiness that childlessness brings.  Fear does nothing necessary, I am afraid (pun intended).  It is safe to let go of it as often as you can, allowing for as much hope as you can muster.

I am sorry about rambling, I am aware that I don't make much sense when I am tired, but I am writing this anyway because I will be able to make sense of it when I need to re-read it.  Which is going to be sometime soon in the future, when I am going back for more.

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