Friday, June 24, 2011

My conscience needs a break.

With every passing year, the list of forbidden and required behaviors grows longer. I can just imagine the Happy Days remake where Fonzie gets fined every time he pulls up to the Cunningham’s without his motorcycle helmet. In the early 80’s, I knew a four year old who had a booster seat for the car and thought her parents were nerds

Now I’m the nerd, ah-gain, and to some degree it’s my own fault. I just couldn’t have another baby without reading the updated version of What to Expect the First Year. I’ve dutifully reminded myself of all the musts and must-nots required to bring a child safely through her first year. Now I must obey, because once I know something could harm my child, I couldn’t live with myself if something happened and I wasn’t obeying the rules. The car seat straps must be snug; the dog isn’t allowed to be loose in the room with her; big sisters have to wash their hands before playing with her; the pacifier has to be sterilized once a week; no rides in the bike trailer until she can sit up on her own; the only place higher than the floor she gets to lay is in the crib. The crib - which brings me to the biggest joke on new parents the scientific community has discovered to date.

As of today, my daughter is three months old. She has slept in a crib or bassinet all of never since we left the hospital. Now that sleeping babies are to be placed exclusively on their back, on a firm, hard surface, without blankets or bedding, I can completely understand why SIDS deaths have gone down – babies don’t sleep! If they aren’t asleep, they can’t die in their sleep!

In three tries, not one of my daughters has enjoyed sleeping on her back, on a hard mattress, without blankets or bedding. The first did most of her nighttime sleeping cuddled on my chest while I was propped up in a corner of the couch, half-awake with worry that she’d roll off of me, because the book said not to sleep with the baby on my chest, but I was desperate. The second was a non-stop eater, so we’d both end up asleep by the time she finished nursing. When she’d fuss, we’d roll over and she’d latch on the other side. It’s OK, What to Expect people, we weren’t co-sleeping; we were using the side-lying nursing position. That makes it OK, right? It’s too late to complain, she survived.

Desperation drove us to try putting our third girl in her car seat one night. Every time she fell asleep in the car, she’d stay asleep in her car seat another hour, once we got home. Something must be working, right? Getting her to fall asleep and putting her in the crib or bassinette, she would only sleep for 20 minutes. Just enough for us to almost doze off, before abruptly being back on duty. So, the car seat it is. She sleeps there every night, and has, as a result, been our best sleeper of the three. The crib is just a glorified changing table and, friends, you should always borrow a bassinet. They’re a waste of money, because babies never sleep in them, anyway. Someday they’re going to make one that cradles babies like their car seats, and when they do, babies will sleep again!

I’m glad for the declining SIDS rate. I don’t take lightly the heartbroken mothers whose babies stopped breathing in their sleep. I wonder that these little creatures are wired to prefer so thoroughly the very position that endangers them – sleeping on their bellies.

It is the seriousness of the potential outcome, no matter how remote the odds against it, that keeps me following all those tyrannical rules, from bike helmets, to car seats, to belly sleeping. But some days, my conscience just needs a break!

If you have good sense, instruction will help you to have even better sense. And if you live right, education will help you to know even more. Proverbs 9:9

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