Each Night

Posted in Life, People at 11 pm

Each night as we put 14-month-old James to sleep, our routine usually touches the following steps:

1. A night cap of a small bottle of milk or formula or both. Followed by a knee bounce and back-pat till burped. This is done by the very dim light of a star lamp.

2. A story or three from the cardboard-page books. Goodnight Moon (a gift from family friends), I’ll See you in the Morning (which is beautifully illustrated) are two favorites. Our eyes are adjusted to the light so it’s dark, but we can make out the words. Most of them are memorized by now anyway.

3. A quiet “Goodnight James” and a kiss before taking off his cochlear implant. The CI goes on the night stand, and the star lamp is turned off. The room is now dark except for little LED dots and clocks scattered around. Amy goes to make preparations for the next day’s food and clothes and chores.

4. Then I rock him to sleep. But not like in a rocking chair, or even upright. After the bottle and starting with the books, we get in position. For this, I lay in bed and he lays on top of my chest, facing the ceiling, his head resting on my sternum. Then he rocks his head back and forth across my chest and I alternate lifting my shoulders a bit to make the rocking easier for him. I hold his hips so that my arms are just above level with my chest and he can rock back and forth between them.

The rocking goes on for 10 or more minutes. Usually by the 15 or 20 minute mark, he’s far enough asleep that I can lift him and place him in his crib. The room is almost dark except for those scattered LEDs from the TV, clocks and assorted equipment.

I wonder if we should be more aggressive about making him go to sleep without me being there. I wonder if we should ask on a mailing list, “Are we coddling him?” Should I ask my co-workers what they’ve done with their kids?

Then I realize that I don’t want to change those steps. I like rocking him to sleep. I will only have this for a short time. He will want his independence soon enough, demand it even. He will take it when he’s ready. I must give it when it is time.

I have until then.

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