Ben had been a co-sleeper from 90 minutes after his birth until 18 months. Those early hours were blissful – 7 in fact, lying on Mama, who was riding a tidal wave of oxytocin. Throughout the 60 hours of my hospital stay (yes, 60 hours from admission to discharge with a c-section in between), he always slept on me or curled in my arms.
Post-hospital, we continued to co-sleep, but it was far less blissful. He grew and thrived; I disintegrated, as only someone who gets 3 hrs total sleep a night could do over a period of 18 months. A overseas work trip broke the night nursing and co-sleeping habits for good, except for one piece.
Every night, cuddles are the way Ben finds his way to nite-nites. We now read books, we sing, sometimes we even play catch with a soft Red Sox “baseball”. But when the lights go out, we curl up in the toddler bed and invite the night under the covers.
Sometimes, we pull the duvet over our heads – it’s the water, and everyone knows hippos sleep underwater. Sometimes there is a panic over whether each of us have a toy (puppies, mama cows, or the tiger and cheetah cubs), but always, we are curled up tight and warm. I tell him how much I love him, kiss his hair on the crown of his head, and listen for the telltale changes in his breathing.
No matter what has gone on in my day, what triumph, defeat or slog occupied my waking hours, the smell of my little boy’s hair and his little body in rest reset me, put the clocks at zero hour, and make clear the best part of my day is here, in the luminous evening. The day has passed, but the very best thing is still here.