Owen usually wakes up once or twice a night, makes some noise, and falls right back asleep. I learned a long time ago that going in to “check on him” when he’s making this noise is far worse than letting him fuss it out for a few minutes. Once he sees me, he brightens to a smile, calms immediately, and then goes right back to fussing the second I put him back down in his crib. This little awake time with Mommy in the middle of the night actually makes him cry harder and louder and longer in order to get back to sleep again. So I stay out of the nursery 99.9% of the time.
If he cries for longer than normal, or the cry sounds different to me, I go in, despite my reservations about waking him up more. Once in a long time something is actually wrong (wet diaper/pj’s/bed, hand sticking out between the crib slats, etc.). But the vast majority of the time, it’s just his thing. It’s what he does. Strangely enough, these wakeups are usually at the same times each night. Sometimes even to the minute (does he have an alarm clock in there?). His favorite times are 4:17am and 5:17am. It’s that “I’ve gotten enough sleep so it’s kind of hard for me to go back to sleep but I still need more sleep so I’m kinda cranky” period. I generally don’t wake him up for the day until 6:00am at the earliest.
Given the puke incident on Saturday night, I wasn’t taking any chances on Sunday night. When I heard that little cry (not at one of this normal times), I shot up out of bed like a gun had been fired. I slowly turned up the light in his room and walked over to the crib. Biggest. Smile. Ever. Damn, I thought. He got me. There’s nothing wrong. But then I picked him up to give him a little pat and noticed his pj’s were soaked. Apparently that overnight diaper couldn’t contain his massive amounts of pee (a problem we’ve been dealing with since he was born!) and he and his bed were all wet. No wonder he made noise. A pee ‘splosion at night hasn’t happened for several months (since we started using Huggies Overnights… awesome invention), so we were both surprised when I took him over to the changing table and started stripping off the wet pj’s. One quick change later, I put him back in his crib.
The crying ensued, as I knew it would, since we’d just had a nice little midnight Mommy time.
I got back in bed and checked the clock. I give him a time limit. If the crying doesn’t stop by that time, I’ll go in, give him a little love, and put him back in the crib again. Normally he stops after a fraction of the time I’ve allotted, and we’re all back to sleep quickly. But that night, the crying continued long beyond what it has in the last 4 months.
So I broke the rules. MY rules.
After a few tries to get him to go back to sleep, I silently picked him up from his crib and carried him into my room. I laid him down on the bed next to me, and pulled the covers over his little legs. I wrapped my arms around him and in about 5 seconds our breath slowed and we fell fast asleep. Benjamin was leaving for a work trip super early in the morning, so he was already up and out the door, and Owen and I had a little special sleepytime in the big bed.
Although Owen is almost 8 months old, I had never done this before. I had never slept with him in my bed, even when we were nursing and he was a newborn. I was very strict about establishing the sleeping habits that worked for our family. I am very glad that we did what we did in the past because it established sleeping habits that make our whole family happy and well-rested, but I’m also glad that now that those habits are established, I am able to bend the rules to have a very special moment like that one. Seriously. There is nothing better in the entire world than cuddling in the dark with a sweet, clean, dry little baby. One of his little hands wrapped around my finger and one clutched his lovey. His dark eyes peered at me in the darkness and he smiled as he drifted off into sleep. I nuzzled my nose into his warm little neck and breathed him in as I, too, fell asleep. It doesn’t get much better than that.
Maybe some rules were meant to be broken.