Monday, May 20, 2013

Sleep Positions

I'm looking over at two beautiful little heads as I type this.  Hair askew, arms and legs strewn about in a tangle of William, Elizabeth, blankets and comforter and soft snores emanating from below the pillows they never quite seem to rest their heads on.

We're having a playroom camp out.  We've been sick/quarantined to the house for a week now thanks to Whooping Cough (yes, I'm serious).  And with no need to wake up early, no school schedule to stick to tomorrow, I thought - why the hell not?

And as I look at this beautiful tangle next to me, I find myself thinking of the many "sleeping positions" I've taken in the last nearly 7 years.  I can measure my life as a mother in those positions.  I can mark the growth of these two and the change into who I am now, versus who I was then.

When they were teeny I found that my sleeping positions were often not chosen, but a result of sheer exhaustion posing me as my eyes closed despite my best efforts to the contrary.  I recall falling asleep in the rocker, feet falling asleep on the ottoman, Boppy pillow on my lap and a child attached to my breast.  My head would fall, my body would rock forward and I would start awake, fearful of dropping this sweet thing who had fallen asleep, mouth still open as though wanting to keep the option of nursing open should they wake.  I remember being so exhausted from the nurse/pump/clean/diaper/put to bed cycle in the newborn days that I would only get as far as burping them and just fall asleep with them there.  Me sitting straight up, them with their tiny, sweaty heads on my shoulder.  Sometimes my hand would just stay on their backs.  I remember falling asleep cradling them, sometimes on the couch, sometimes in the rocker, because I hadn't made it to the crib.  I would wake up and see their beautiful little faces in my arms and just decide to sleep with them, because it was too delicious of a moment to let end.  I remember not wanting to be apart from them, so I would make a little "nest" for them on the couch and fall asleep facing them or next to them and I could feel their little breaths across my face.

Sickness over the years brought more sleeping positions.  There was the half-reclined/half-sit up position, propped up on pillows in an effort to help them sleep sitting up when they were so congested they couldn't breathe lying down and were so small they needed to be held in that upright position. I've slept in small beds, on couches and even on floors, usually curled into a small ball with one hand on a trash can listening for the telltale moan that precedes their vomiting.  I've fallen asleep against bathroom walls, toilets and even kneeling and leaning against them during nights when vomiting or diarrhea has taken so long, we haven't left the bathroom for hours.  I've fallen asleep on my back (which I hate) with one arm falling asleep under their sweet heads because they feel so yucky, they want to sleep on my shoulder.

As they've gotten older, the chances to sleep holding them diminished and blooming in their place have been the strange solitary positions brought on by my body just surrendering after a day of keeping up with two little ones.  I've fallen asleep at the kitchen table.  We'll be mid-meal and my eyes will just shut and my head tilt backward or forward.  I've fallen asleep lying next to them in bed as a book has crashed onto my face because I can't even get through one short pre-nap or pre-bedtime story.  I've fallen asleep sitting on the bathroom floor, with my head and arm stretched across the side of the tub because I can't even make it to story time.  I've even drifted off standing up... drying my hair, cooking a meal, surveying the pantry, washing dishes or standing in front of the open fridge.  Not even realizing I was tired until my body pitched forward.

Now the two of them sleep together.  But there have been nights when they still want me to sleep with them.  And I do, either because these moments don't last forever or because I fall asleep mid bedtime story.  I often end up balancing carefully on my side, arm falling asleep, so I can take up as little room as possible in the bed.  Otherwise, I end up in the tangle myself - Elizabeth's feet in my back, William's arm smacking my chest, all of us rolling around and complaining in our sleep about the accidental wrestling match that results from sharing a bed.

But the best positions are the ones like tonight.  A playroom camp out.  A playroom tent city.  A makeshift "bed tent".  Whatever silly fun we can come up with.  I'm thinking if it's warm enough this summer, we'll need to add one more to the repertoire  - the trampoline camp out.  That thing is freakin' huge and I'm sure I can find a way to rig something across the top of the protective netting so that we can make a trampoline tent.

I know I'd sleep better if I would just put them in their own beds every night.  But these moments won't last forever.  They won't want me close forever.  They've been asleep for hours and my butt is falling asleep as I write this and I know I may be tired tomorrow, sharing this not-so-comfy fold out with them.  But they'll remember this camp out.  The movie, the giggling, my snoring and the novelty of waking in our playroom with nothing to do tomorrow but play.  So what if it's not a good night of sleep for me.

Besides, as my mom often says, "I can sleep when I'm dead."

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