When I was pregnant with James I did like so many others and read all the baby books I could find. I wanted to know what to do, how to be a good mom. It was all new and I needed all the tips I could get. Many things changed with James’ premature birth, but some of the basics remained the same.
Creating good sleep habits right away was important to me. I heard so many horror stories about bedtime from parents I worked with in ECI. I wasn’t going to make the mistakes they made, and end up with the sleep issues they now faced. We were going to do this right.
Of course when James finally came home from the NICU we held him all the time and rocked him to sleep. We waited so long to bring him home, I couldn’t do it any other way. We all needed that time together. Eventually we worked on changing his sleep routine. As much as I enjoyed rocking him to sleep, I didn’t want him to rely on it every night.
Well, a routine only stays a routine if it’s done consistently. When you trade off days at home (I was home 4 days a week, and my husband was home 3), you have to agree and do things the same way. Andy agreed, but he continued to rock James to sleep. He wasn’t ready to give up that precious time with him. And you can imagine which sleep routine James preferred.
This was a battle I wasn’t going to win, so we rocked. Nap time, bed time, anytime he woke in the night we always rocked him to sleep. And now I’m so glad we did. I loved that time with James. I loved how he smelled, especially after a bath. I loved singing to him and the little sounds he would make if I stopped. I loved how his whole body relaxed on my shoulder. I loved how I could tell he was asleep from the change in his breathing. I loved it especially because it made me feel like his mom. There are lots of caregiver things that have to be done. This wasn’t one of those things. This was a tender, loving, bonding time we needed. The NICU created so many scars in both of us. The simple act of rocking him to sleep was one way for them to heal.
Just to be fair, it wasn’t always easy. There were nights I was ready to pull my hair out when he was still awake after rocking for an hour, but those nights were few in comparison.
I still rock James to sleep every night. His pediatrician just smiled and shook his head when we discussed it a couple of weeks ago. He knows it’s a battle he won’t win. I will continue to rock James as long as he’ll let me. I’ll do it for all the times I watched him cry in the NICU and couldn’t pick him up, saw him in pain but wasn’t allowed to hold him, for all the times he was scared and alone. For all those heartbreaking times I couldn’t be his mom, I will be his mom now. I know the time will come when he won’t want to be rocked to sleep, but until then I will enjoy every healing moment.
I love it!!! My opinion is rock and rock and rock. Just as you said, you will rock until James no longer wants you too! And yes, rock for YOU!!! for those time you couldn’t! I am in total agreement with you! Smiles!!!
Thank you Debbie. We’ve made a lot of changes to his bedroom over the last week. It needed to be more of a playroom than a nursery so lots of things were moved out and a toddler bed was moved in…but the rocking chair stayed.
So beautiful, Alison. Rock on!
Thank you Margaret!
I read your article simply because I’m a NICU mom as well of a 25 weeker. We are going through the sleep issues as well, being in the hospital an being bothered every 3 hrs put him on a night owl routine , but like you I hold him an rock him for all the moments I wasn’t able too. As I read your article it brought tears to my eyes as this is the first time I’ve really let myself cry in this last 6 month life changing process. So thank you ! I needed the right words an honey your articles say em. Go James!!! Forever in my prayers
Thank you so much. Your comment brought tears to my eyes. We work so hard at being strong through all the difficult days, and sometimes we forget that it’s ok to just cry. It helps us heal. I hope your little guy is doing well. You’ll both be in my prayers.
We do forget to cry we are too busy being superman! I am mother an father, it’s hard but it’s only as difficult as I’d let it be so through the pain I smiled because I believed . An I’m glad you did too! My son will be 6 months on the 13 th corrective he’ll be 2 1/2 months 🙂
I can’t imagine how hard it is to do it all. You ARE Supermom! I like what you said about smiling through the pain. I think we have to in the nicu or we’d never smile. I tried to be thankful even on the really hard days. It sure does change your perspective!
I also rock my preemies to sleep whenever they need it. 100% guilt free. They were just 29 weekers, but I still HATE that there were all those times they cried for me and I couldn’t answer. So if they want or need to be rocked, they will be. Until they are bigger than me if necessary (and by then, they better be rocking me if I need it too!).
I love it! Rock on!!
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