So last night, the boy isn’t feeling well, and is sleeping between me and Mrs. ’Struction. I find myself sleeping on my side, “back cuddling” with junior. This is the name we’ve given the practice where we sleep back to back, pressed against each other. It bares some similarity to the constriction of a python. The python doesn’t need to squeeze the air out of you. It just has to wait until you exhale, then it takes up the slack and you find that you can’t inhale again. In this case, the inexorable movement is linear instead of radial. If I move a millimeter away from him, even for a moment to scratch an itch or shift my weight, he’ll take up the intervening distance, and then render himself immobile. The effect is gradual, but inexorable as I find more and more of myself hanging off the side of the bed. Fortunately, other factions prevent me from being slowly walked to the edge of the bed for the inevitable fall. I’ll get to them in a minute.
Another feature of cosleeping are “foot cuddles.” When he was smaller, his feet would seek warmth of their own accord, like two small independent creatures. That would usually mean you’d wake up with at least one foot, and often two, jammed under the waistband of your pajamas. It was kind of cute (in a creepy way) until he got tall enough for his feet to reach some of the… let’s just say more sensitive bits. He’s occasionally prone to restless leg syndrome, or bouts of kicking in the night. A good kick to the giblets is not a nice way to wake up.
Fortunately, he’s largely outgrown that phase; I suspect mostly because he’s too tall and his feet are now well below my waistline. Now “foot cuddling” usually involves draping a leg across me. Combined with the back cuddles it’s more than a little constraining.
About 15 minutes after everyone has finally settled down, comes the next stage of the evening. Toto, our little-old-lady cat, comes in and wants some attention. If I’m lucky, she’s just happy to settle in next to me, about half an inch from my face. It’s just close enough that if I shift one way, my nose is tickled by her fur. If I wake suddenly in the night, I can sometimes get the impression that I’ve gone blind, only to realize that I’m looking into her fuzzy flank.
At 20-30 minutes into the night, it’s Eddie’s turn. He’s our overweight, gentle giant. His thing is to nudge against me until I wake enough to raise the edge of the blankets. He then pushes under and spoons me. Or am I spooning him? Anyway, he lays down with his back against my belly and turns into an immovable object. At this point I'm no longer being walked to the edge of the bed as being clamped in an evertightening grip.
Not long after that, Oreo shows up. He’s finished his final rounds of the house, making sure we haven’t left anything within two inches of the edge of a table or countertop. He knows instinctively that we meant to put such items on the floor, but just forgot. Once he's corrected our oversight, his preferred sleeping technique is to climb on top of me.
His technique is somewhat unusual, however. Most cats will climb on top and half sit/half squat for a while, somehow putting up to ten times their natural body wait onto just their front paws. Once they’ve convinced you that you’re going to have two cat print shaped bruises there in the morning, they’ll seemingly retract their legs completely into their bodies and assume a configuration that’s something like a furry eggplant with a cat head at the pointy end. It’s not so bad after that, as they somehow got back to their natural mass. As I said, Oreo doesn’t do that. Instead, he finds an open plot of me, usually just above the knees, and then flops down, instantly turning himself into a cat-shaped sand bag, pinning my legs.
The final addition to our nighttime ritual is relatively new. Princess Twilight from Build-a-Bear has started coming to bed with us. Some nights she finds her way up to be on the other side of my head, her horn resting near my ear as a warning against any sudden movements.
So I lie there, pinned horizontally and vertically, careful not to breath to deeply, lest I aspirate a hair from the tiny wall-o-cat right in front of my face. It’s cozy, it’s warm, and it’s not so bad, apart from the risk of deep vein thrombosis. Ah, parenthood.