Friday, June 4, 2010

First Boob-Free Night or Best Dad Ever?

Amari slept through the night! Awesome.

After a painfully long week of sleep deprivation, neither Carrie nor I believed this night would ever come let alone be just around the corner. Amari's current lack of a schedule has her falling asleep anywhere between eight and nine o'clock. We do have a bedtime routine - bath, massage, bottle, sleep - but we're not always steadfast about the time. We've tried to include reading in this routine, but Amari still enjoys eating books more than listening to them. Once she's asleep Carrie generally takes her upstairs and places her in the futon at the foot of our bed. When she wakes up, which she usually does 2-3 times each night, Carrie and I take turns comforting her or offering her a boob or a bottle or some gentle pats on the back. 

Two nights ago we had dinner with the Calverts and didn't leave until after nine. Amari fell asleep in the car on the way home and slept soundly for most of the night. Last night was even better. After her routine, Carrie and I took Amari upstairs around nine-thirty. For the first time in ages nature called before Amari did. I glanced at the clock - it was 4:30. I looked over at Carrie to see if she had brought Amari into bed. It was just the two us, the cat, and utter silence. 

I listened more closely, certain that Amari must have tossed or turned or moved or cried. Nothing. After so many nights in a row, the silence was unsettling. I began to worry. What if something's wrong? What if Amari stopped breathing? I was pretty sure she was out of the SIDs window, but that didn't mean she couldn't be smothered by a cat or her god-awful pink bunny. I was faced with a major parental dilemma. Do I risk jeopardizing this perfect night of sleep by checking to see if she's breathing? Or do I play the odds - which I told myself were very good - that everything's okay? 

After a few seconds of self-inflicted mind games and worst case scenarios, I came to the logical conclusion that checking Amari's breathing - albeit the more immediately responsible parental choice - was a lose-lose situation. If I check and she's breathing, it's likely she would wake up and I lose. If I check and she's not breathing, well that option sucked, too. Ultimately, I decided to go back to sleep because either outcome would be better served by a well-rested dad. Does this put me in the running for father of the year, or what?

For any of you worry-warts, as I drifted back to sleep amidst a flicker of guilt that I was somehow the worst father ever, Amari tossed and turned and moved, but never cried. When I woke up again I heard a small cough. It was light outside, the moon fading in the grey sky above, while Amari reared her lovely head below, patiently waiting for one of us to notice she was still very much alive. 

Like the bad nights, I remind myself not to get attached to these good ones either. Even as I write this, Amari is snoozing next to me on the couch because her sleep upstairs was already interrupted by hunger, gas, a bad dream, or the subconscious fear that her dad is much too logical sometimes. 

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