The Baby Who Doesn't Sleep

Thursday, September 24, 2015

Why isn't there a Patron Saint for parents whose kids refuse to sleep?

There's gotta be one, right? I find myself invoking St. Elizabeth, St. Ann, St. Elizabeth Ann Seton, St. Monica, St. Gianna, really any saint I can think of who's ever had kids. Mine are not children who fall asleep easily.

Sometimes I wonder if it's because God knows I *need* that downtime to be forced into silent prayer, to meditate on my day and my needs and my gratitude even though those prayers very often degenerate into "Thank you Jesus for our home and after I finally get this baby to sleep I need to run that load in the dishwasher and switch the laundry to the dryer and then John Paul seems to have disappeared and hasn't done any of his schoolwork for the day and I wonder when we'll be able to cut that board to make shelving for the kitchen..."

Meanwhile the baby is nursing and his eyelids are fluttering but somehow after 5 children the slooooow slipping away and rolling off the bed eludes me some days, for who knows what reason. I pull away and his head pops up and I sigh and get back to nursing him, hoping that the twins don't manage to find that purple Sharpie *again* and mark up the white cabinets in the kitchen.

And even the prospect of getting him down for a nap away from me is a new one - nursing naps on the couch have been the norm for months, so there I sat glued to the cushions, halfheartedly parenting from my perch but mostly just perfecting my angry voice without waking the baby. His sweaty head nestled in my elbow, cheeks pink, chubby thighs thanks to that extra serving of ice cream (HIS chubby thighs, not mine...) - there's nothing like it, but what I wouldn't give to put him down for half a second so I can pee.

But goodness, when he *does* fall asleep?

Well, I've become one of those parents who stares creepily at their sleeping children. And takes pictures. Because that rumpled bedhead, those fat little feet, that belly peeking out of the sweatsuit...

He's inconvenient, this baby. But he's also immeasurably precious. And after all that hard work it takes to finally get him to sleep, the reward is so much greater to hear those tiny snores, the deep breaths, to see the stretched out tiny body that manages to take up 3/4 of a king-sized bed.

I swore off co-sleeping this time around (I think I do every time - it's NICE having a big old bed with nobody in it but your husband!), and he's still in our bed all night long. The crib isn't even set up. John Paul was like this too, and I know it doesn't last forever... But I wouldn't mind having the bed to ourselves again. 

Someday he'll sleep. For now I'll give him the extra snuggles and hold him close and try to pray my imperfect, distracted prayers with this reminder to be still.

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