Sweet Slumber




By Nicole Caccavo Kear

It was Christmas Eve, and the eve of my son’s one-month birthday. After an hour-long “Frosty the Snowman” singing marathon, I’d finally lured Giovanni to sleep. I assumed my position in bed, an arm’s reach from the rocking bassinet, which came to a standstill. My husband, David, tiptoed over, slid under the blanket, and turned his back to me. “Honey,” I asked plaintively, “why don’t you snuggle with me anymore?” I paused for dramatic effect. “Is the magic gone?” With a trembling hand, he pointed to the bassinet’s mobile.

“It’s the bears,” he whispered. “I see the bears shaking just before the baby starts to cry.” I shot the bears a sideways glance and promptly rolled toward the window, too. By his second day of life, Giovanni had decided sleep was for the weak and launched his Campaign of Unending Wakefulness.

There was no such thing as day or night anymore. The only way I could tell 4 a.m. from 4 p.m. was the difference in television programming. So I became a sleep junkie. I wanted to do it all the time. When someone suggested another activity—a heartfelt talk, dinner, sex—I’d react with shocked chagrin. Nothing could trump shuteye.

It was like a passionate affair between me and sleep that some third party was always barging in on just when things got good. Eventually, I could operate perfectly well with my two-hour intervals of sleep—that is, as long as my newborn served as the only arbiter of social skill.

When I interfaced with adults, the loss of social function became glaring. On New Year’s Eve, I attempted the double challenge of attending a dinner party and staying up until midnight. Ironic jibes and double entendres flew past me as I watched the clock. By 10 p.m., I knew the ball would have to drop without me. “Happy Yew Near,” I said as I made my exit. And then, just as I accepted my fate as a haggard, social misfit, a mysterious thing occurred.

One night in early spring, I collapsed in my usual heap and woke to a brave new world. It was light outside. “What the hell is going on?” I muttered to David. “It’s morn-ing,” he replied, enunciating the word as if it was a foreign phrase I had never encountered. “Morn-ing?” I repeated. “You mean—?” “Yes,” he smiled, “the baby slept through the night.”

I turned toward the bassinet. The bears were mercifully, marvelously still. I peered over the side and saw my snoozing baby, sucking in air through his bow-shaped mouth, as if sleeping seven hours in a row was no big deal. The gratitude that flooded me was almost too much. I could barely resist kissing his opalescent little brow. But I did. And was back asleep within seconds. After all, you can’t get too much of a good thing.

Nicole Caccavo Kear is a writer and mom in New York City who cherishes the thought of eight hours of sleep.

ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED IN NEW PARENT MAGAZINE, SPRING/SUMMER ‘06