“No more of this,” says the nurse sternly, with a small shake of her head, cuddling an imaginary baby to her chest.
I feel sick. My heart, heavy. Easy for her to say when the make-believe baby she’s holding is just that – make-believe. Fake. Not there. No sweet baby smells, no mewling kitten noises, no warmth permeating off a small human body, through her arms and to her very core.
Easy to say when she’s not being followed around by her baby’s cries – cries with the ability to penetrate the heart, body and soul with the force of a thousand pooey nappies. I wonder if she stopped cuddling her children at three-and-a-half months.
I left the sleep school shaken and downcast. How on earth was I going to settle my daughter into a second sleep cycle when even the ‘experts’ themselves could not? How was I going to wrap my squirmy baby the way they demonstrated on an immobile doll? An angel wrap they called it – far from angelic if you ask me. But most of all I left the sleep school wondering how I was going to avoid placing my daughter on my chest for a cuddle.
The mere thought of not feeling her wispy strands of hair against my cheek and sleeping weight in my arms made me feel physically and emotionally heavy with grief. I was hurting because I wasn’t ‘allowed’ to do it anymore.
“No more of this.”
The words bounced off the walls of my mind – colliding, combining, growing stronger. They consumed me. Every single time my daughter cried out, the words followed me into her room, reminding me to suppress my urge to pick her up and instead roll her on her side to pat her bottom.
I did it their way for approximately two weeks, during which time I was a complete wreck.
Before we visited the sleep school, my daughter slept on me for almost every single day nap. I still remember everyone gasping at my confession and quickly telling the room that they had never ever done that with their child.