In our household we are grateful for every night of undisturbed sleep we can get. They don’t come often and when they do we’re not sure we’ve had one until the morning when we realize that none of the kids visited our bedroom, or called out from their beds. My two oldest no longer call out, unless they’ve thrown up. Instead, they walk to our bedside and stand there and stare at us until their breathing wakes us. It’s unsettling to say the least, especially when your daughter kinda looks like this:
Instead, we had the harrowing experience of being attacked by the baby shirt.
The baby shirt phenomenon is when a baby or toddler magnetically attaches himself to a parent’s chest, wrapping his little arms and legs tightly around any part of their body, and no amount of coaxing can get him off.
Last night Baby D (ok, I admit he’s really a toddler) had a full-blown nightmare. He woke up and hurried to come find us, calling all the way. I caught him and he instantly adhered himself to my chest. After a good love and hug I tried to put him back in bed which was like trying to lower a cat into a sink full of soapy water. He arched and strained away, springing off the mattress as soon as he touched it. After several tries it was clear that it wasn’t going to work, so I gathered up his pillow and blanket and headed for his favorite sleeping spot, the family room couch.
I set up the couch with his stuff, but the sight of his pillow and blanket set him into a panic and he ran full tilt into our bedroom, which made me wonder if his nightmare had something to do with his bed eating him. Being snuggled in our bed wasn’t enough, he still felt insecure enough that he plastered himself to daddy’s chest.
Even the sanest of parents can only take so long of having a heavy, twitching, restless toddler parked on their chest before deciding to try putting the kid back to bed. Sure, for the first ten minutes it’s adorable, but then the parent realizes that he has a whole day ahead of him and only 30 minutes of sleep to fuel it with.
The second time we tried putting Baby D back in bed it was like trying to put a magnet backwards on the fridge, except he didn’t have the decency to flip over and stay put. We tried the couch again, without the evil pillow and blanket, and he wrestled to find the remote. It’s amazing, the kid is still in diapers but has the TV figured out. Then, he had to have a sippy of milk and was super angry that I don’t allow milk sippies at night. After a few more rounds of “please lay down and go back to sleep” which escalated to “Mommy is getting really angry” he decided that it would be better for his health to settle down and sleep on the couch after all.
The hour-long ordeal left me wound up and restless and it took me nearly another hour to settle myself down and get back to sleep as well. It didn’t last, the events of the night triggered my own nightmare about a sleepover at a distant relatives house which then evolved into a dystopian police state that separated me from my children without any explanation leaving me to fear the worst of what might happen to them. The ending scene has us separated by a thick pane of glass and they were screaming and scared and I could do nothing. I hate dreams that leave me helpless because when I wake from them I can’t rest until I figure out what I should have done.
Between Baby D’s and then my nightmare, I’m walking in a fog today. I’m still upset about the dream, a part of my brain keeps insisting it was real can’t let it go. In a way, part of it was. Today the kids go back to school after being off track for several weeks and I have to let them go. Most of me is super happy about it, but there is a small part that hates sending them away.