Micah put himself to sleep laughing the other night. Ok, he doesn't exactly laugh yet, but as I watched on the video monitor, he cooed, gurgled, and smiled himself to sleep in his crib. Melted my heart entirely.
Micah sleeping on his own is brand new, he's only been doing it for 2 to 3 weeks. See, my second son was the newborn who would not sleep in his own. Even those first few nights in the hospital after he was born, he refused to sleep in the hospital bassinet -- I spent those nights sitting up in the hospital bed, staring in amazement at this new little being as he slept. We came home and tried to get him to sleep in the co-sleeper bassinet next to my side of the bed - if he fell asleep he'd be up 20 minutes later, searching for a snuggle. Every night would begin with an attempt to get Micah to sleep in the co-sleeper; every night would end with a baby snuggled against me in bed. All of his naps were taken in a sling or wrap on me or his daddy. Delerious from sleep deprivation, we had a conversation with our pediatrician about safe co-sleeping practices, and for the first couple months were co-sleeping out of necessity, as opposed to choice. Not that I judge those who choose to co-sleep, but as a babylost mama who works professionally in child welfare, I was terrified at first -- I had visions of dead babies floating in my head, all the co-sleeping nightmares of which I have learned through my work. But night by night I got more comfortable, and began to love all the snuggles and ease of breastfeeding that comes with co-sleeping. It seems Micah was sent to make up for all the snuggles I missed out on with his older brother.
But we knew eventually Micah would need to learn to sleep on his own -- I won't be on maternity leave forever, and certainly it's a good skill to have. We set about doing some limited sleep training with Micah, and in the end, some combination of our hard work and the cognitive development that comes with hitting the 3 month mark, resulted in Micah's new found skill of crib sleeping. For the most part, he seems to sleep longer and better on his own. So I now have new found freedom...and already miss his night time snuggles terribly.
All that aside, watching Micah coo and smile to sleep got me thinking...about laughter.
My father told me that the first thought that flashed through his mind after he learned that Ezra had died, was that I would never smile again. And yet I remember distinctly the first time I laughed after Ezra had died. It was the day after he was born, and involved an episode of incontinence resulting in a large puddle beneath my hospital bed. So absurd, I couldn't stop laughing; at the time, it felt like there was nothing left to laugh about in the world, but at myself.
Over these last 19 1/2 months, we have of course learned to laugh again. We've laughed with each other. We learned to find joy in the simplest things. In fact, I think that's one of the many lessons Ezra taught us - to appreciate the tiny joys the life offers, to laugh when we can. But our laughter has always been tinged with sadness, or perhaps more precisely, guilt. It's the guilt that only babylost parents can feel for actually enjoying themselves, when their babes are not here.
Listening and watching Micah laugh himself to sleep made me realize that true laughter, unconditional laughter, re-entered our lives on the day Micah was born. We laugh despite ourselves. We laugh because our son is just so cute, just so snuggly, just so full of smiles...and just so alive. It's only when I stop to think about how much we laugh, that the guilt creeps back in. We should have had all these moments of unconditional joy with Ezra too. And yet Micah keeps me laughing...each and every day.
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