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09/29/2008

A brief illustrated history of an unimportant piece of furniture, or, I really bought quite a lot of that fabric

Cosleeper Today I dismantle the co-sleeper.  It's the same one Charlie used, the single piece of baby furniture we had in the house when he was born.  The first time we were told he was to be discharged from the hospital — oh, how we all did laugh — Paul made the drive from Connecticut to set it up.  When we finally did get home, Charlie slept in it (and elsewhere as well) for a couple of months, always with one of us at his side.  We were far more vigilant than his condition strictly required, but it took a long time for us to be sure that he wouldn't stop breathing just to screw with us.  Charlie may have weighed only five pounds at homecoming, but four and a half of those were dastardly.

He moved down the hall to his crib, built and delivered by my father, when he was a few months old — a great relief to me because I slept very lightly with him nearby.  Every unconscious grunt woke me.  Every quiet sigh in his sleep.  So aware was I that I'm pretty sure I could hear his cells dividing.  And he performed an awful lot of mitosis.  He might have looked relaxed, but on a cellular level he was actually very busy.

After Charlie finished with the co-sleeper, I sent it to Jo to use with Sophia.  After she'd finished, she sent it to Ollie, who used it with Lauren.  And then it came back to me just in time and in perfect shape.  (Okay, it was completely encrusted with deadly, deadly girl cooties, but a diligent scraping with a putty knife restored it to near-mint condition.)

So I set it up for Ben.  But two months in, he's slept everywhere but.  For the first ten days, when I was nursing, I slept next to him every night in the den.  Then once Paul and I began splitting the overnight shift, Ben's spot was a pallet on one sofa while the parent on duty slept on the other.  (Or rather Ben would start the night in his nest, then inevitably end up with his head nestled in a grown-up armpit.)  Then, because I missed, in no particular order, my husband and my Egyptian cotton sheets, we started putting him in the crib, first for naps, and then at night.

This morning I realized the extent to which I've been using the co-sleeper as a repository for the items I like to have at my bedside.  It was one thing to lay my glasses there at bedtime so that I didn't have to fumble for them in the night when Ben wakes.  It's another thing entirely to have to paw through a tube of hand lotion, a pot of lip balm, a box of Kleenex, a water bottle (sport cap, alas, left open), a tawdry Regency romance novel, a set of car keys, a sheet of $.37 self-adhesive stamps, a dog-eared map of the Paris Métro, a white Christmas, a blue Christmas, and an eggbeater to find them.  (About the eggbeater: Hey, don't knock it 'til you've tried it.)  It's time to put the co-sleeper away.

This doesn't pack the sentimental wallop that certain other transitions have had.  (Already Ben has outgrown several of the hand-me-down treasures I loved first on Charlie, then on him.  Gosh, it all goes so fast when you're not wishing you were dead.)  I just don't have much of an investment in the co-sleeper.  After all, like poor Bart Simpson in the bed his father built [WAV], Ben never slept all that well in it anyway.

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