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SkyBed (books #31-32 of 2006)

#31: The Sky so Big and Black by John Barnes
The fourth in Barnes' The Century Next Door universe, that includes Orbital Resonance, Kaleidoscope Century, and Candle, and just as good as any of those were (I loved them all). It's about the year 2100, on Mars, amidst terraforming efforts and culture clashes and a quarantined Earth, taken over by an AI that has figured out how to infect human brains with memes. This book also has that particular story structure of looking back on the story of the main character, from after some traumatic, unknown (to the reader) event. All the clues are there for you to figure out what this event is if you want to, but it doesn't have that annoying quality of mysteries where it tries to trick you into figuring it out (I hate mysteries for the same reason I hate jazz music - they make me feel manipulated. grr.)

The one flaw in this book, in my opinion, is that once it reveals the Traumatic Event, another twist comes out of nowhere and suddenly it seems like everything has been destroyed - but five pages later everything's good and happy again. For such a sudden and huge fall, it feels like he should have spent a bit more time building things back up again. (Who knows, maybe he did, and the editor made him cut it out. Silly editors.)

#32: The Family Bed by Tine Thevenin
This book was written in 1987, but sadly reads like something from the 50s in many ways. It's a book on co-sleeping (the idea of having your child sleep with you in your bed rather than in a crib in a separate room). Now I was already quite in favor of the idea going in; but this is very much a book that is trying to convert the unbelievers. 3/4 of the book left me going "yeah, and?"

And mixed in with everything were assumptions and biases that left me cringing. Things like the assumption that the mother would stay home and the father would go to work; that homosexuality was abnormal and wouldn't occur in a society where babies were given the touch they needed; that a six- or seven-child famiily was normal and better for all involved. I don't think there was a single testimonial from a single-child family, and so much of her argument revolved around having the baby move to eventually sleeping with their siblings instead of you, it actually undermined her own argument if you weren't planning on popping out kids like skittles every year or two.

What I was hoping this book would give me was practical advice on logistics. Things like where you put them in the bed; what to do with the pillows and blankets that you need but are supposedly a suffocation risk to the baby; do you need a waterproof pad and how does that work; if nursing in bed is supposed to keep you from getting up at night, how do you deal with diaper changes, just let them sit wet all night?; and how on earth are you supposed to have a sex life (once your delicate bits are up to it again, of course) if the child is supposed to spend every moment of every day and night in physical contact with you until he's [mumble] years old?

The book did sort of address most of these questions, but in offhand, dismissive comments to the effect of 'don't worry about it, you'll figure it out'. You try telling a new mother to 'not worry about it' and see how far that gets you! And the sex question? She spent most of the book dancing around it, and when she finally faced the topic, went off on a tirade about how there seems to be an evolutionary mechanism for children to interfere with procreation until they're old enough to deal with having a sibling, so basically you have no business even thinking about sex for three or four years anyway.

Um, how about no?

Now on the last point, I openly admit that I may be getting pissy because that's not the answer I wanted to hear; but when so much else about the book pushes my buttons, it's hard to give credence to any of it, even the stuff I agreed with before going in!

I know there have got to be more liberal sources of information out there on co-sleeping, and I will be searching them out posthaste to get the taste of this one out of my mouth.

Currently reading: Lost in a Good Book by Jasper Fforde (yeah, I said I wasn't going to rush right out and get another Fforde book; but I was in the bookstore, and in the mood for something fluffy, so....)


( 11 comments — Leave a comment )
Jun. 19th, 2006 07:26 pm (UTC)
Just because i'm paranoid mom and terrified of anything bad happening to anyone:

No waterbeds when co-sleeping. I can't find any references for how to do it safely, but lots of warnings and admonishions to not co-sleep with an infant on a waterbed.

If you Google "waterbeds and co-sleeping" you'll find much of what I found.

Jun. 19th, 2006 07:32 pm (UTC)
seems like you should be able to get a more modern co-sleeping book, or find an lj community for co-sleeping, even. Personal advice might help on all those 'how do i...?' questions.

A lot of people have a bed for the baby in the room that is attached to the parental bed or right next to it, which might give the flexibility you need - the baby can always be right next to you, but not actually in bed to be bounced around during some activities, etc. etc.

As to the sex - how can you pop out 6 or 7 kids if you don't have sex for 3 years after each birth??????
Jun. 19th, 2006 08:00 pm (UTC)
Ironically enough, just after I posted this I read comments to a post to naturalfamily that answered a few of my questions :)

As to the sex - how can you pop out 6 or 7 kids if you don't have sex for 3 years after each birth??????

I was wondering that myself!
Jun. 19th, 2006 08:17 pm (UTC)
A lot of people have a bed for the baby in the room that is attached to the parental bed or right next to it,

THis is what my best friend did with her baby, because he did not like to sleep in the big bed. She put his crib right against her bed, with one wall down, so he had his own bed-annex.

As to the sex - how can you pop out 6 or 7 kids if you don't have sex for 3 years after each birth??????

I suspect that the plan is to never do anything BUT have kids.
Jun. 19th, 2006 07:48 pm (UTC)
We tried having Cade in a cradle, as lots of people told us was a good idea.
That was a no-go; unlike most babies, apparently, Cade wanted to stretch out,
and hated being swaddled and/or restricted.
So he got cuddled to sleep and laid in the crib, and that would work for a couple
of hours until he wanted fed again.
We had the crib right next to the bed, due to lack of space more than anything else.

As soon as he was big enough and a little stronger, it was just easier to
let him stay in the bed when he was done feeding. He liked that more
because he got a faster response when he wanted fed in the middle of the night.

Generally, we just treated the middle of the bed like we did the crib:
no pillow, smaller blanket for baby if necessary.
Firm mattress highly preferable, though; less movement, so it's safer.
If you're a deep and/or active sleeper... I don't know what to do about that.
I found that I became extremely responsive to the baby sounds
and dead to everything else as usual; probably a side-effect of the hormones.

Just make sure to burp the baby really well after night feedings.
Otherwise you have to change the sheets a lot. *shuffles feet in embarassment*

Basically, the bed is going to be for sleeping until
the kid will sleep on his/her own elsewhere, whether for naps or the night.
My thought is that while I look forward to using the bed again,
there's nothing wrong with being creative for a while... *halo*

We're currently in a king-sized bed with Cade, and he's 2.5 or so now.
However, he usually goes to sleep by 10 (insists that we have to stay with him
until he falls asleep), and we usually go to sleep... later.
But he's fine with being left there after he falls asleep, most of the time.
It's only when he's not feeling well that he wakes up and yells at us at this point.

I got a breastfeeding book by a couple of morons who had like 20 kids,
stay-at-home mom, insanely 50s - might've been that same gang as wrote
your book. They had a whole series.
What I got out of it is that there are a lot of people out there who are going to
get pissed at these people when all they really need is the confidence to try what
they want to do. The only useful advice in that book was that you nurse the kid
whenever they want, and for the most part, any bad habits are temporary -
and this has proven very true. When ya think about it, all they did was construct
a couple hundred pages of "well, cavemen didn't worry about it, so you shouldn't either".
...I kinda find it offensive that they're getting paid to waste paper... ¬_¬

Uh... I had a point. Holler if this wasn't at all useful...
or if I might be useful still...
Jun. 19th, 2006 08:10 pm (UTC)
very useful and reassuring, thank you!
Jun. 19th, 2006 08:22 pm (UTC)
My parents did a sort of compromise thing where they had my crib set up to make it the same height as their bed and removed the rail on that side of the bed so there was one continuous bed. That way I could choose whether to come over and snuggle or stay separate in my own bed. From as young as I can actually REMEMBER (maybe 2?) I chose to sleep separately and when they go me my own BIG KID BED I was soooooo happy and felt wonderfully independant and only came back to my parents bed a couple of times when I was sick. They did the same thing with my sister but she chose to sleep in their bed all the time until she was maybe 5 or so and even when they did get her her own bed, she used to make my mom come sleep with her in it. I hated this because she and I shared a room and I mocked her for it mercilessly (I was 10. I think that was my job or something.). I can't actually remember how old she was when she finally stopped that.

Anyway, just thought I'd bring up that attached-crib idea since I thought it was a good one, as a kind of way to, once they're mobile, let the kids make the choice of how much space they want or need. I'm not actually sure where my parents got the idea for it.
Jun. 19th, 2006 10:27 pm (UTC)
I'm sure you posted, but when are you due? You must be getting close, eh?
Jun. 19th, 2006 11:36 pm (UTC)
Due August 30. Two and half months to go, which simultaneously seems like forever and no time at all....
Jun. 19th, 2006 10:42 pm (UTC)
Speaking without experience, but from firmly held beliefs (isn't that a great start *G*)... I think it depends on the baby. A baby isn't a simple thing, just like every other baby in the world. They have individual temperments and preferences, and you should set out to do whatever your preference is (co-sleeping or not co-sleeping), but if it isn't working, be flexible. Mostly, I hear about parents who intended not to co-sleep who found it was just miserable... with a particular kid, but it may or may not have been miserable with another kid if they had more than one.

Also, while I wouldn't co-sleep with a baby on a waterbed, and I would keep pillows away and not cover the baby's head... I wouldn't worry too much about the risk factors beyond that. I know many people who seem to think there is a risk of an adult smothering a baby if they sleep with it. And it really bothers me that such nonsense is believed. As far as I can find, there is no evidence of an adult human ever suffocating a baby in their sleep. There is, however, a great deal of evidence that during the Middle Ages, the polite way to inform people that you had decided to kill your baby (if you couldn't afford to hire a special killing wet nurse) was to say that you had ~accidentally~ smothered the baby in your sleep. People probably knew exactly what this meant, but you don't question the polite fiction. And somehow modern adults have totally lost the meaning of the phrase and think people actually did this accidentally.

I figure, when I'm ready to have kids, Solving the sex problem is hard... I'll probably deal with it by varying which parent the child sleeps with. This obviously doesn't give you the ease of breastfeeding, since the breastfeeding parent can't just pass that off to someone else some nights. But you don't spend the whole night breastfeeding, so about half the time, you can have easy sex before one of the parents comes to fetch you for the baby's feeding. Maybe pass the kid off, have sex, then change who sleeps where. This obviously only works with a poly household with enough parents, but if they're going to give advice assuming everyone is a 2 parent family popping out kids as much as possible, I might as well assume everyone is a quad or larger. :)
Jun. 20th, 2006 01:41 pm (UTC)
It sounds like that book is giving advice on attachment parenting in general, not just co-sleeping. If AP is what you want to do, there are lots of groups and literature dedicated to promoting just that. As for co-sleeping with a baby, I can't help with that. We had our son in a crib until he was big and strong enough to climb out of it (which he would do in the middle of the night and then sneak up on us sleeping in bed!) He was about 1 1/2 when we gave up on the crib and tried the toddler bed, which didn't work--he climbed in with us anyway, so we eventually got a king sized bed and he's still sleeping with us now at 5 1/2. It is getting kind of squished again though, especially when he has a fitful sleep. We're lucky that he's a sound sleeper though--when we want to use the bed for sex and he's asleep in it, we just move him to the side and prop pillows so he won't roll off.
( 11 comments — Leave a comment )


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