Sunday, April 11, 2010

On Laughter

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.


Sara said...

Sarah, it is wonderful that you are really laughing again.

I visited my family about two weeks after Henry died. I laughed so hard I was sore the next day, but it wasn't real laughter, it was just a need for release and I was spent crying. And I remember hearing for years after my cousin died, my aunt's not quite right laugh, and noticing distinctly the day her laugh was real again.

I'm amazed at Micah putting himself to sleep already. We're still working on that. Each time we seem to get it working, Kathleen starts teething or we are away and then we start all over again.

Laughing and sleep—both good.

Hope's Mama said...

There is quite possibly nothing sweeter in this world than a baby laughing. That and sleep!!

Paige said...

Can't wait for the next laughs, the deep baby belly laughs!

Sending love to all four of you. xo

Rach said...

I love that you are laughing, all of you!

Sleep was one of our biggest issues! Co-slept (unplanned) for years as it was the only way that any of us got any rest. I am very impressed that little Micah is putting himslef to sleep - what a clever baby!


k@lakly said...

A home filled with laughter and a new healthy baby who sleeps, sounds just about perfect to me.

Fireflyforever said...

What a clever little man. Toby does this too - it's just adorable.

Because we had two older children before Emma died I found the guilt cut two ways. When I did laugh with them, I wondered if I was betraying Emma but when I collapsed in tears, I felt guilty for burdening them with an unhappy mother.

Jericho said...

Laughter really can make you feel better....even if it only feels superficial---its so good for your soul. Glad you are doing well.

Monique said...

Good on you, Sarah - so glad you and Micah are getting sleep and laughter in your lives. Missing Ezra with you always.

Michele said...

What a beautiful post... Hugs, dear friend...

(And I still love cosleeping with the babies, even though they sleep in their "big kid" beds. I'll miss it when they no longer want to snuggle in with Mom!)