We are up with our days-old baby for one of multiple middle-of-the-night feedings. I finish feeding the baby and hand him off to Tim, who is still in bed, to be burped. I go to the bathroom, come back, take the sleeping baby from my sleeping husband’s arms, and deposit the baby in the bassinet next to my side of the bed. I settle in to bed and work on getting back to sleep. Minutes later, Tim bolts upright, arms outstretched as if holding an invisible baby, and exclaims in panic: “The baby left!” Groggy from my almost-asleep state, I look at him in confusion and ask what he’s talking about. “Where’d the baby go?” he repeats, still baffled at the empty space in his arms. “He’s over here, honey. I took him from you and put him in his bassinet. Go back to sleep.”
At two months old, the baby has started sleeping for longer stretches of time. I still wake up frequently, reach into the bassinet, and gently lay my hand on his stomach to make sure he’s breathing and all is well. I often dream that I’m feeding him and wake up confused when he cries: Wasn’t I just feeding you? It’s not uncommon for me to wake up from one of these dreams, feel a warm, baby-sized mass snuggled up next to me, and panic, thinking that I’ve fallen asleep with the baby in the bed and he’s presently suffocating in the comforter. Usually at some point when I’m feeling around for the baby’s face to make sure it’s not smothered in blankets, I realize it’s Smalls snuggled up to me, not the baby, and fall back asleep secure in the knowledge that dog and baby are both sleeping (and breathing) where they should be.
One night, I wake up from a baby-feeding dream and feel a warm, baby-sized mass in bed next to me. I do my usual hand-on-the-stomach check, verify that the baby is still breathing, and pick him up to move him to the bassinet. I sit up, turn toward the bassinet, am about to place the baby back in the bassinet when I see that the baby is already in the bassinet. Confused, I look down at the curled-up dog in my arms, reflect a moment on how close I just came to setting her on top of the baby in the bassinet, put her back on the bed, and go back to sleep.