Saturday, October 10, 2009

To Sleep, Perchance to Freak the Hell Out

People have been asking me if I'm putting "the nursery" together for Hortense. I have to restrain myself from having some sort of panic attack, because I'm still trying to sell my immaculate, practically-brand-new, $12,000-below-tax-value townhouse, which has been stripped of all my personal pictures and objects and staged out the wazoo since March, when I first put it up for sale. So - I keep thinking about how I can't buy any baby furniture until I know whether I'll still be living in this place in January. I mean, I can - but doing so means that I have to move out the furniture that's currently in my second bedroom and figure out where to store it. And on top of that, there's the double panic of knowing that if I don't sell soon, I won't sell it for two more years, because I'll be damned if I clean and stage a house daily while toting around a newborn.

But on top of all this, there's the triple, intense, cherry-on-top panic of simply buying the accoutrements necessary to PUT THE BABY TO BED SAFELY. Have you noticed this? Am I more sensitive to this as a recovering-ish infertile, or is sleeping now the most dangerous, perilous, fraught activity a baby can participate in? I'm developing a serious rage that threatens to put me squarely in tinfoil-hat territory.

First off, I completely accept the findings and conclusions of the whole "Back to Sleep" businesses. I GET IT. I can't even buy a flipping sleep sack without that little mantra on it. Obviously, I'm going to put my child to sleep on her back, if that's what reduces the risk of SIDS. Agreed. Let's shake. However. What if she spits up in the night? What if she chokes on said spit-up? Why is this legitimate fear not addressed by the "Back to Sleep" information? All they give us is "healthy babies won't choke on vomit." Really? That's not terribly reassuring.

I don't like that the medical organizations downplay the possibility that one might feel anxiety about this proposition, and sometimes I feel like they're saying, "well, we've covered our asses with Back to Sleep. If you don't burp your kid well enough and she chokes to death in her sleep on vomit, you have no one to blame but yourself for being a crap burper." And they say that SIDS isn't caused by vomiting...I say, okay, semantics, then. Vomiting and choking would cause death by vomiting and choking. But the end result is the same, no?

So then you want to buy a sleep positioner that will incline the baby's head a bit to try and rectify that problem, but the consumer orgs are iffy on those, because if there are foamy parts, the child could end up pressed against one and suffocate, much like crib bumpers, which are apparently death traps as well. As are loose sleepers. As are tight sleepers, though, also, because the baby can't be overheated. Or rebreathe exhaled carbon dioxide into its sleeves. And you should keep a steady stream of fresh air flowing over them. And they should be sleeping in your room, but in a bare, safe crib, away from a window. There's a lot of opportunity for you to screw this up. Between the medical organizations and the consumer-products ones, some days, it seems like every baby product for sale is marketed as "Buy This Or: Death!!"And, BTW, if you really, really, really want your baby not to die of SIDS, you'll breast-feed until you're taking the training wheels off her bike.

I'm thinking I'll hire two eunuchs/vestal virgins to stand in Hortense's bedroom. One to hold her aloft in the very center of the room all night - no loose blankets, fuzzy crib positioners, or inadvertent tummy-sleeping allowed. The other will lightly fan exhaled CO2 away from her mouth and make sure she is adequately cool, yet never cold. Otherwise, I doubt I'll ever get any sleep.

But, you know, I have to remember not to stress out too much about this, because ya know - stress during pregnancy is bad for the baby. Everyone says so.


  1. I couldn't have said it better myself!

  2. I'm pretty sure there's a "turn your head to vomit" instinct in babies, so I wouldn't worry too much about that one. Also, they usually cry a whole lot so you'll pick them up and then they vomit on you. It's like a conspiracy or something. However, your eunuch/vestal virgin idea is a good one.