Of the many things I’ve worried about daily, I’m sure you can guess the one that’s kept me up at night. Literally. SLEEP! Ya’ll, I really wanna meet these parents whose babies sleep in their cute little bassinets. What kind of pep talks are they having with their newborns? I need details.
When we first brought him home, he seemed too small for the two beds we had for him. A lovely bassinet that I still don’t know how to turn into the rocker it boasts, and an attachment that came with his pack and play. We took turns with him sleeping on our chests. It was exhausting, but the newness of it all kept us going and initially without even complaining. He graduated to a plush, mustard colored throw pillow. His entire little body fit on it and it seemed to cradle him in place of our arms. Now before you begin to judge, I understand the risk of having this delicate being in the bed with us. I’d read the warnings and heard the horror stories. I am not a person who thinks bad things cannot happen to me. I feared suffocation, falling from the bed and every other worst-case scenario. But the safest option, and the one that kept him most quiet, was keeping him close.
We thought ordering a co-sleeper would answer our prayers. For those of you who don’t know what a co-sleeper is, it’s a toddler sized mat with bumpers that goes in your bed for the baby to sleep with you safely. I thought it was the best of both worlds. Negative. It began with five whole minutes, then ten to fifteen minutes at a time. We eventually worked up to an entire hour and ten minutes before he began to rebel. We’d fall asleep trying to calm him enough to sleep in the co-sleeper. Before we’d know it, it’d be tomorrow, and he’d have slept on our chests the entire night. I have not slept on my back so much EVER. Of all the things I knew I’d have to be for my baby, I did not anticipate a mattress being one. He would sleep for a few hours at a time, but between breast feeding twenty minutes to an hour, keeping him upright for at least thirty minutes afterwards to reduce him spitting up, then finally getting him to sleep- on my chest, my own sleep window was closing fast before it was time to do it all over again. I started to expect not sleeping well. I looked forward to the couple of hours in the morning his dad would grab him so I could finally turn on my side and rest by myself. I was stressed and struggling with baby blues. Lack of sleep was not helping. All I wanted was a full night’s rest. For Carter to sleep in one of the now three beds bought for him. I was frustrated and wondering if we were doing something wrong. If I were petty for wanting my space.
Then George Floyd was murdered. And as he cried out for his mother in his last moments, every black mom felt that shit. I could go into a spiel about systematic racism, oppression, the violent over-policing of our people and all the etcetera’s that accompany being black in America. But all I’ve wanted since is my black son as close to me as possible. There will come a time where he’ll finally sleep in his bassinet. Then his own room. And so on and so forth. He has already graduated to sleeping next to me comfortably, transitioning from my chest to by my side. I hold him close and pray to God he never becomes a hashtag.
To the mommies who can’t be out protesting on the front lines, I see you and I feel you. It’s okay that your call is different, that your action is home based. Raising a child is a lot like a revolution. One person can absolutely make a huge impact, but the help of a village, a strong team, always makes success more likely. Everyone has something to add and when we bring our best effort to the table, the outcome is more powerful. I’ve found myself sad and proud on the sidelines watching my city hurt so deeply, then mobilize so quickly. At a different time in my life, I’d have been much more active in organizing and volunteering to aid in change. Being a parent in a pandemic has changed my lens and ability to show up. I is now we, and we are best equipped to fight from home. We are breastfeeding and tits and shits are not for the frontline. We, new mothers, are cheering from the crib and mothering the generation who will reap the benefits of the fires (literal and figurative) started now. Carter and I send our love, from our (sleepless) crib to yours.
Rest in Peace, Love & Power to George Floyd, Breonna Taylor and all the beautiful, black souls murdered for simply existing in beautiful, black bodies. Your lives did and still matter.