Despite warnings by midwives about the dangers of co-sleeping my baby has always slept either on me, my husband or on our bed firmly planted between both of us. Now and then struck by guilt I have tried placing the baby in the expensive Mamas and Papa’s cot we bought when I was in my second trimester but she lasts minutes before crying as if she has just been thrown in a hot oven.
A few weeks before the birth of our baby, my husband had excitedly set up the cot. I decorated it with frilly pink sheets and cushions, he fitted the hanging bunny cot mobile, wound it up and the lullaby music began playing. We both sat on the bed staring at it wistfully. I imagined our baby girl sleeping innocently and soundly in her beautiful bed, now and then cooing delicately. I wiped a sentimental tear off my cheek.
The day after we brought her home, as soon as baby touched down on the smooth surface of the flowery sheets she started bawling and crying her eyes out. We tried to ‘get her used to it’ and let her ‘cry it out’. We sat on the bed staring at the same cot with our precious baby girl in it but the scenario was totally different from what we had imagined. I wiped a tear from my cheek, this time borne of frustration. After ten minutes, my husband lost his patience, scooped her up and cradled her in his arms. After an hour we tried again, same story. Then a few hours turned to few days and our will power weakened further. We finally caved in.
Having much less will power than the baby, five and a half months on, baby is still sleeping arms and legs sprawled in the centre of the bed like a BOSS. I normally hang off the edge of one side of the bed holding my baby’s arm. My husband has found a unique way of fitting into the bed, his head starting where the baby’s feet end and he lies diagonally his feet hanging off the end of my side of the bed. I occasionally kick his feet off when he tries to encroach on my space.
Scene: I am not sure what triggered it but a few weeks ago, I walked upon this conversation playing out in the bedroom between my head strong baby and my husband who seemed to have had enough and was finally in the mood to put his foot down.
Hubby, ‘You are moving to your cot now, baby girl. That’s it! You are moving tonight.’ He gestures towards the desolate cot lying on the side of our bed, serving the sole purpose of a clothes hanger.
The baby glances at the cot disdainfully. ‘eeeeeeeekkk!’ Baby screeches in a displeased fashion.
Hubby, ‘It’s not working. You are going in there, to the PRISON.’ He says dramatically, pointing at the white bars of the cot.
Baby, ‘eeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeekkkkk’ Baby yells again.
Hubby, ‘Sorry, you do NOT have a strong enough case!’
‘eeeeeeeeeeeEEEEEEEEEKKKKK,’ she yells driving her point home.
‘Ohhhh,’ my husband jerks back, surprised at the strong reprimand.
‘Wow, I have never seen her fight so hard!’ he remarks, looking at me.
I have now sat on the bed lathering my parchment dry hands with one of those strong ‘miracle rescue’ creams, ignoring the drama unfolding beside me.
‘You aren’t selling it very well.’ I say half heartedly, with a shrug.
‘Aaaaooooooo,’ Baby looks at me and moans. I glance at the baby with an amused look.
‘Don’t look at mama, she will sign a petition to send you back.’
‘EeeeeeeeeEEEEEEEEEKKKKKK,’ Baby continues.
‘No, I said No!’ hubby fights back, but I can hear his voice wavering.
Now baby starts mock whimpering, a precursor and warning that if she doesn’t get her way she will start crying in earnest very soon.
‘Oh, Ok, Ok!’ Hubby waves the white flag immediately, sensing the impending storm and shoving the dummy into baby’s mouth. Baby rewards papa by hugging his hand with both her tiny hands.
At this point, I try swooping in like a knight in shining armour,‘No, my baby can sleep wherever she wants, ok, my darling?’ I use my sing song baby voice, smiling widely at her. ‘Come on, give mama a high five!’
I lift my hand palm up. Baby stops sucking the dummy and looks at my raised hand. She turns to papa who is now staring at me like I have just stabbed him in the back, then back at me. She breaks out in a big grin and the dummy flops from her mouth onto her chest.
‘You know she will have to go into that cot eventually, right?’ Hubby reproaches me with a scowl.
‘I know!’ I say in the same baby voice. I continue smiling at baby, my hand still raised over baby’s face. Baby slowly raises her hand and touches my palm with hers with a perfect little smack. I laugh involuntarily and she giggles back.
Hubby looks at both of us and then shakes his head, ‘I am actually outnumbered here.’