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When the Polar Vortex (and Rodents) Make Co-Sleeping with an Infant a Good Idea

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOne of the quirks of our new house — and the reason we got a good deal on it — is that the master bedroom lacks any sort of heat or cooling. It doesn’t even have any duct work. As Polar winds bear down on our little corner of Virginia, the temperature in my bedroom right now is hovering around 40 degrees. Temperatures are supposed to drop to sub zero tonight, so it literally will be below freezing in our bedroom.

Katie’s crib is in our bedroom, but it’s far too cold for her to sleep in there, so for the past week or so, she and I have set up camp in the guest bedroom, which is nice and toasty warm, as my husband Jake freezes his buns off in master bedroom alone (the upside is that he gets a good night sleep not having to hear her cry and he needs to be well rested for work).

So last night at about midnight as I was rocking Katie to sleep in my arms in the guest bedroom, I heard this scratchy, scurrying sound. At first, I dismissed it as another mouse in the wall, which sounds so gross because that’s not something I’m prone to dismiss, but it’s a problem we’ve had lately which Jake has been working on remedying — a few mice seem to have taken up residence amidst the insulation and the framing inside the wall. You can’t see them, but you know they’re there. How they got there, we don’t know, but we have a feeling it’s through the attic. And Jake has been trying to figure out how to get inside there to kill them. Ick!

So there I am in bed, wearing my head lamp in the dark, cradling Katie and listening to this disgusting scratchy mousy noise when all of the sudden, my head lamp picks up the sight of a mouse scurrying across the bedroom floor. Ugh! I’m not afraid of rodents but the sight of one in a bedroom with an infant and my bare toes nearby is so disgusting. I all but leap out of bed, gently place Katie in her bassinet, run into the master bedroom where Jake is buried under four feet of blankets and screech-whisper in his ear, “Jake, Jake! There’s a MOUSE in the guest bedroom!”

Jake is in a dead sleep. He doesn’t hear me and is barely conscious when he eventually mumbles, “There’s not much I can do about it now, hon.”

I consider this.  No, you just don’t WANT to do anything about it now, I feel like saying. But I keep my wifely cool and say, “Okay, fine, but we’re sleeping in here.”

I race back to the guest bedroom, gather all my midnight baby munitions — head lamp, ear plugs, mag light, crossword puzzles, boppy, the baby — and scuttle back to the master bedroom. It’s so cold in there the thought of late night nursing practically gives me hypothermia. I wrap Katie in another blanket, stick a baby hat with a chin strap on her head so she can’t work it off in bed, and the two of us climb into bed next to Jake.

Co-sleeping with an infant is considered dangerous and is highly discouraged by pediatricians because it puts the baby at risk of suffocation or strangulation.  Adding 20 pounds of blankets and quilts to the mix doesn’t help.  But there was no way I was going to put her in her crib alone. It was far too cold — even with all her extra layers — and I definitely wasn’t going to do it with a mutant mouse running around. I told myself it would probably be okay to break the rules because I’m a super light sleeper and wake up at the slightest noise. And there’s a mouse on the loose in our house!

At some point, the three of us fell asleep, little Katie sandwiched between us in her Arctic baby gear.  Jake and I both become aware of a scratchy, scurrying sound inside our bedroom. Jake immediately bolts out of bed. At first we think it’s our dog Solha, but she’s just lying at the foot of the bed in a dead sleep.

It’s the mouse. Or a mouse, another mouse that’s found a way inside our home. We both leap out of bed and see the rodent scurrying underneath Jake’s desk.

“Get it, Solha! Get it!” Jake cries.

Solha just lies there like a bag of dirt.

“Some Afghan dog!” Jake yells at her. He starts pulling out boxes and books near his desk, trying to root the mouse out. All of the sudden, we see the mouse dash from his desk to the other side of the room, near Katie’s crib.

“GET IT!” I scream, nearly falling on top of it. But the mouse is way too fast. (Seriously. Those things are FAST.) “Solha! Get the mouse! Get it! Get it!”

Solha wags her tail like we’re preparing for a fun walk. “Geez, you’re worthless!” I yell at her. “Plucked from Kandahar and you can’t even get a mouse!”

Then we see the mouse dash from underneath the dresser INTO OUR CLOSET where there is virtually zero chance of us ever finding it again. Jake runs downstairs to grab a weapon and comes back brandishing a broom and, completely nonsensically, his wheelchair rear view mirror (he doesn’t have a wheelchair). We tear the closet apart trying to find the rodent but it’s gone, probably making a comfy nest in one of our boots or a favorite old coat.

It’s hopeless. We’ll never find it. Solha, the viscous attack dog, has already fallen back asleep. Katie is in a deep slumber in our bed. There’s really nothing else to do but get back into bed and pray the little mouse won’t be joining our familial co-sleeping pow-wow. I sleep fitfully, with one eye open all night, afraid of the mouse brushing against my toes and/or me accidentally rolling over on Katie. My toes refuse to uncurl all night. But Katie is all bundled up next to me, all nice and snugly and warm. At least one of us slept well.

I am not looking forward to tonight, when temperatures are supposed to be even colder.

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