As I sat up in my bed, skin-to-skin, rocking my baby to sleep, feeling so grateful for him, I contemplated the last four days.
Die to yourself.
Die to your comfort.
Since day three, I’ve bed-shared with Arrow. It has always been amazing. However, for maybe two weeks (not sure, it’s hazy), it’s been a challenge. He starts turning for every sound. And then he starts rolling and crawling in his sleep. I have to grab him and pull him back to me more than once for him to stop. And then I have to comfort nurse him, but even that doesn’t work sometimes, so I just have to wait for him to relax. Then I try to keep sleeping, only to have him start again. This was happening several times a night/morning. Add on the fact that I use the restroom at least twice and you’ve got a very tired mama in the morning. And my weariness solicited some sadness, and a little impatience.
Usually, I would be energized and exited to worship at the top of my lungs and pray, but my exhaustion was/is affecting my morning time with the Lord, and I was being short on patience with my loved ones. One night, I was so fed up, I laid Arrow in his crib. Poor thing started crying and I patted his butt to no avail and then decided to let him “cry it out” for a certain time limit before going in again. The next day I tried researching unbiased opinions on CIO methods, and assuming I found one, thought it wasn’t detrimental to Arrow, especially if I often checked in on him as he cried.
So for three whole days I did it. I let Arrow cry. I let Arrow scream. I asked God—pleaded with Him—to please give Arrow peace and calm him and let him sleep on his own without needing me. After forty-five minutes of crying, he eventually would fall asleep. Today I tried to continue, but I didn’t see improvement. In fact, I saw the opposite. Arrow was more exhausted, he seemed even sad sometimes, anxious when I neared his crib, and fussy when he knew I was trying to get him drowsy.
Never have I struggled with anxiety, but these past few days, I have. I lost even more sleep and felt three times as exhausted. I decided enough was enough. How in the world could I possibly let my baby suffer any more than he already has? He never cried before unless he became over-tired. He’s the happiest baby I know. And though he’s still happy, I noticed it hasn’t been as much.
I did more research and read an article on how it certainly is damaging and where the CIO method originated from. It affirmed my decision all the more. I told Arrow I won’t let him cry anymore. So as I hold him tonight, I think about why I chose to try this in the first place. Sure, I was concerned Arrow may have not been getting good sleep with all the rolling around and stirring, but I was more concerned with me. I was being selfish. I wanted my comfort back.
In the majority of the world, women hardly ever put their infants down. They work hard gathering food and water, cooking, and taking care of their children. But have you seen an African woman’s smile and strength? She doesn’t complain about having to wear her baby and sleep with him. Her culture has trained her to be that strong, but mine? Mine has trained me to put Comfort first, Mother first, Woman first, Self first.
Abortion is hailed as a woman’s choice and her power over her own body and her child’s. She’s allowed to have him or her ripped to pieces and scraped out of the womb for her comfort.
Carrying a baby is hard. Being a mom is hard. Losing sleep is hard. But I’m reminded of the Apostle Paul who said he’d endured, “many sleepless nights,” not to mention shipwrecks, beatings, hunger, nakedness and much more. And when was Jesus ever well rested after going into full-time Gospel mode? I’m sure it wasn’t often, based on the accounts of His ministry. He was weary and hungry, a true vagabond, “with nowhere to rest His head.” Yet, here I am, grumpy about some lost sleep?
This is just a season, and I think it’s the season of really dying to myself. This season will pass. Arrow is teething and learning how to crawl. I heard these things can disrupt sleep. I’ve also unfortunately trained him to sleep in very quiet conditions (I began breaking that habit today!) so I probably made him a light sleeper.
One day soon, Arrow will be walking, and soon after, running. He will be exploring, and then climbing. He will venture farther and farther away from me. He’ll start driving, and then, he’ll get married. The little baby boy that often needed to be held and touched and rocked will be gone, and I’ll only get hugs and kisses when he visits, or I visit.
I plan on savoring his little, yet ever-swiftly growing body snuggled against mine for as long as I can. And I can, I will, I must die to myself.
Today, some more selfishness was crucified to the cross, selfishness I hadn’t really recognized, or justified because of how tired I was. But I got the lesson, Lord, and I pray I always put Arrow—and others—above myself. Hello again attachment parenting!