What’s Keeping Me Up At Night

Jen & Michael

Who knew that a 14-month-old could show so much affection? My son Michael has reached the stage of massive exploration, having just gone from three steps to steady walking within a week. But he has also started to give us endless cuddles and kisses.

My favorite is his “pat pats”: when you pick him up if he’s upset, or in need of some cuddles, he gives us little tiny baby hand pats on our shoulders and back. It makes my heart melt to think that a child who can’t talk or walk can show us how much he loves us by the look in his eyes, expressions on his face, and the touch of his hands.

I wish I could say that nighttime was as much of a dream! While the majority of children his age that we socialize with will sleep 12 hours without waking up, that’s not happening in our house.

I am still nursing Michael on demand during the day, and he usually nurses to sleep for his nap, so I understand that has a lot to do with his night wakings (he can’t self soothe to return back to sleep). After reading six books on sleep cycles, patterns, and “how to make your baby sleep,” I have given up. My theory is that eventually he will end up sleeping through the night (and not wake up at all until morning), but until then, this is my baby boy, and when he wakes up, I get out of bed, take a deep breath, smile, and respond to his needs. Sometimes he just needs a pat on the back and to be given his pacifier, and he will return to sleep. Other times, I have to nurse him which takes less than 10 minutes and he’s back to bed.

Oh yes, his bed. We bought Michael a mattress that is 4 years old, and was used by another baby before Michael. My theory behind having a “used” mattress was that some of the toxic chemicals would have already off-gased. In having a recent conversation with some other like-minded holistic mamas, I was told that the mattress will start to break down over time, which could be releasing toxins besides the fire retardants the mattress came with.

There has been a lot of concern about fire retardants in children’s products, because young lab animals exposed to small amount of fire retardants have been shown to have problems with learning and behavior compared to unexposed rats. Then another study by Julie Herbstman at the Columbia School for Children’s Environmental Health indicates that children born with higher levels of PBDEs in their bodies may have poorer physical and mental development. So I didn’t want Michael anywhere near these chemicals.

It feels like this issue is a catch 22. I personally have not done the research for fear that I can find anything I want to believe on the internet. Eventually we will have another baby in the house, and I’m wondering if I should be purchasing a new mattress for that baby when I get pregnant so that it has nine months to breathe.

I probably wouldn’t have even thought about this if I hadn’t been part of a study while I was pregnant that found 12 toxic chemicals in my body. I actually know that Michael was born already exposed to toxic chemicals. Now, I do my best to avoid toxics, but I can’t keep him in a bubble. So while I wrestle with myself about whether I should raid Michael’s college fund to pay for a new, organic mattress, I’m asking my representatives in Congress to pass a new law that would make sure all mattresses and other products are safe.

About sharyle patton