February 11, 2011

The Co-Sleeper

By Kaci Goodrich Uipi

Last night as I walked around my bed to get into it to go to sleep, I glanced over at the space between my dresser and armoire. This space is now used for the extra pillows from our bed, and occasionally the junk that we want to get out of our living room. What used to be in this space, however, was the little crib we used to put Joshua in for bedtime.

When my sister came to visit last Summer, she brought some baby stuff for me that she didn't need anymore. Some of which were used-items that I myself had given her the previous year, so you can only imagine the quality of these items... or lack of. Probably the only nice thing that I was excited about getting to use was the co-sleeper. She mentioned to me that it had already been used by her 2 kids, and even a cousin, but it still looked pretty good to me. It wasn't long before I asked Salesi to set it up in our bedroom. I wanted to make sure it worked and fit in the space I had chosen. After Salesi set it up, I filled the bottom with diapers and tried to figure out how to make the "mattress" more comfortable for a little baby. I then waited patiently a couple more months before I could place a real baby in it to test it out.

When we brought home our 3 day-old Joshua Wednesday evening from the hospital, I still wasn't sure if the co-sleeper would be "co-zy" enough for him. I put him in pajamas, and instead placed him in the little swing we had set up in our living room. Immediately he fell asleep. Later that evening as it became dark, I knew I needed to move him into our room and try out the co-sleeper. To me, however, it just looked so hard and un-welcoming for an infant. Salesi folded an extra blanket and placed it in the co-sleeper to add more padding. This seemed to be the answer. I don't remember exactly how Baby Joshua slept his first night in his new home, but I believe he did pretty well, only waking up a couple of times to eat and then drifting right back to sleep.

From that night on, Salesi's on-going project was to make the co-sleeper as comfortable as he could for Baby Joshua. Every time I gently put Joshua down to sleep, (hoping he wouldn't wake up) I noticed something different about the co-sleeper. Usually there was a "nest" made up of rolled towels and blankets. Salesi kept telling me, "He needs to feel like he is with someone... if he feels all alone in his crib, he won't sleep!" I soon realized that this actually was true. Some nights if I only but kept my hand on his little chest after I lay him down, he continued to sleep peacefully. Another trick that Salesi had, was to make sure his little NICU friend was with him at all times. He liked to place him barely over his head so Joshua could feel that someone was with him, even if that someone was a beany baby bear.

Now that little crib, the co-sleeper, is gone. I left it up for as long as I could, but I knew the day would come when my sister needed it back. Even when I cleaned up most everything else that belonged to Joshua, I left the co-sleeper exactly where we had it: between the dresser and armoire. A couple of weeks following his death, and even after that, I attempted to remove the ducky blanket from the co-sleeper and put it away... but I just couldn't do it. Sure enough, my sister eventually did ask to have the co-sleeper back and then I was "forced" to put away that little ducky blanket with Joshua's scent. To me, it was slightly a painful request, asking to get rid of the little bed where Joshua slept each night. I knew that I couldn't fight it, and needed to hand it over.

Misconception of the ungrieving world: "People will eventually get over their loss, and move on with life." Yes, life does go on, but it seems at times, it goes on without us. There are days when time stands still, as we can only remember the passing of our loved one. We pay no attention to the day, the time, or month. In the deep and dark moments, we only feel the pain, and nothing else. We will never "get over" our loss, but hopefully learn to adjust our life to it. The pain will always be there, but will just come less frequent, and hopefully not as strong. Never assume when or if a grieving person is over their loss. Never assume it's the right time to take down the co-sleeper.

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