Monday, May 7, 2012

Sometimes it's just a bad dream

As a foster parent, I sometimes feel like I've traded money for the right to make parenting decisions.

It's not generally true; most of the time we're expected to use our judgement and knowledge of the child in our care to do what's best for that child. But one of the big things we're flatly not allowed to do is share our bed with the infant we're currently caring for.  It's not the big-brother "you're not related" reasoning I originally assumed; it's because bed-sharing is associated with higher rates of SIDS.  Because because babies in care tend to have more risk factors (prenatal exposure to drugs and alcohol, maternal smoking, low birth weight), we have to control the risk factors we can.  So, sharing a bed is out, but sharing a room is encouraged.

That's why from the tender age of two days, our baby has slept in a proper crib at the foot of our bed.  It's a pretty bare-looking crib, too, with no blankets or bumper pads; just a plain white sheet.  He doesn't seem to mind, though.  He has learned to sleep well and will even put himself to sleep at bedtime and during the night.  When my friends talk about how easy it is to feed in the night, or more likely complain about getting a foot in the face at 3am, I just keep quiet, because I don't get to share those experiences.

At his three-month checkup on Friday, the Children's Aid clinic doctor, after a long conversation with my husband and I about the baby's situation, recommended that we move his crib into his own room.  Friday night he slept through the night for the first time, from 10pm to 7am, so it seemed like a good omen.  Yesterday afternoon we moved the crib, and at 8:30pm I put him down to sleep.  He squirmed in, yawned, and fell asleep just like normal.

When I slept I dreamt that he was crying, and when I went in to him the room was cold, with a storm blowing outside and the window open.  I couldn't get the window closed, and when I turned to call my husband to help, I saw another window in the opposite wall, with the glass all broken and the rain pounding in.  I don't need a therapist to tell me what that dream means - obviously I feel I've abandoned him to the big, bad world and the elements by moving him to his own room!

At 5am he woke up for a feeding, with no more fuss than usual.  If he'd had to cry more to wake me up, it wasn't obvious.  I got him a bottle and fed him, and put him back down.  Back in my own bed I could hear him cooing to himself, then sucking his fists, then gradually getting quieter.  It was fainter than usual, but I've been listening to it several times a night for three months, and I could fill in what I couldn't hear.

No fuss from him; no tears from him.  I was the one who cried, as quietly as I could, so I wouldn't wake up my husband and have to explain the mix of guilt and sadness I felt.


  1. We have the beds for the kids, still in boxes in our kitchen. I'm not ready to "abandon" them to their own space, either (and you know how small our house is; at most they would be a dozen quick steps away). With every shift and transition in sleeping, I have worried about that time when it will be just me and P in the "big big bed." It's not just fear of makin' more babies ... I just so dearly love being close to the ones I already have. All that to say ... I would cry, too.

  2. I'm with Jeni on this one. I co-sleep with my 3 month old (instead of with my husband! shock!) and I have to admit @ this point it's as much so I can be near my little one as it is any practical reason. I'll cry when I put him in his own room too. It's what mommies do. :)
    (also, you kick ass for fostering. all babies deserve loving safe homes.)