My Cocoon

January 18, 2011 at 12:01 am | Posted in Family, Transylvania | 25 Comments
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Giggles was born in the middle of December. Cold, rainy December.

Once we were home from the hospital, we tried to find our groove as parents of two. For us, that meant my husband took charge of Lollipop’s needs, and I cared for baby Giggles. I remember endless cycles of feeding him, changing him, soothing him, and tiptoeing away after he had fallen asleep. And I remember the cold.

Once he was settled, I would burrow down into a nest of warm blankets on the couch. I tucked the bottom ends around my toes and the top ends over my head. I curled up in my dark cocoon, breathing in and out, in and out, in and out, until the air around me turned warm and balmy.

Inside the blankets, I slept. Deep, disorienting, dream-filled sleep, an hour here, an hour there. Under the blankets, I could shut out the drafty air, the noises on the street, the alarm clocks and coffeepots and microwaves in my own house. My body rested while my brain recharged and prepared to emerge, exhaustion transformed into efficiency.

The funny thing is, I’ve never been able to sleep like that, wrapped completely, before or since. My claustrophobia gets the best of me. The warm air becomes stifling. I need to poke out my nose or a toe.

But for those few weeks, that cold December, when my body needed the comfort of dark, hot silence, I could.


If I’m honest, the enormity of our to-do list, all the loose ends that need tying up (or packing up) in preparation for the big move, is crushing sometimes. It’s exhausting to think about, let alone do. Much like mothering a newborn. There’s so much to tackle. There’s not enough time. There’s self-doubt, anxiety, and thousands of ordinary things — laundry, dinner, dance class, diaper changes — that need to continue happening.

This weekend, it got to me. I felt mentally paralyzed, just as unable and uninterested in making sandwiches for lunch as I was in making inquiries into Romanian preschools.

So I curled up on the couch, burrowed under a blanket, and shut out the world for an hour. I unearthed my cocoon.

Trains raced on the table beside me. A tea party took place in the kitchen. My husband clicked away on the computer, comparing trans-Atlantic flights and layovers, researching double strollers, and looking for good deals on giant suitcases.

In the dark, in the heat, I shut it out. All of it.

And I emerged, still tired and unsure, but a little lighter, a little steadier, a little stronger. Ready to face the cold and the rain. Ready to face myself.

How do you shut out the world? Do you ever have so much to do that you can’t do anything? And why does sleeping help??



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  1. There is nothing like those brief, dozy sleeps you have when you have a newborn….remember sinking into the comfort of bed for a few hours, minutes after the soft, milky feeds and the dark humming of the house in the early hours of the morning. For me, meditation helps focus and calm my energy…even just a brief, meditation at the end of a busy day when babies are asleep. Big moves into the unknown are exciting but taxing….lots of warm comforting things like a cup tea and your favorite blanket are vital!

  2. I did much the same after the birth of my second. For me it had to do with having a baby in the middle of a cold Canadian winter. But also because I didn’t allow myself the same respite after the birth of my first. And I regretted it for a very long time.

    Sometimes we are so busy mothering others, we forget to mother ourselves. For me it’s often curling up under blankes, or in front of a warm fire with a book. I miss being able to do that for hours on end. I now believe it’s why I was able to do so much more before children. Because I afforded myself such luxuries.

  3. I swear, in my next life, I’m coming back as a bear. When it’s cold and gray, all I want to do is cuddle up, slip into dreams, and forget the whole world.

  4. Sleep and I are not best friends. But we are getting to know one another better these days. I’m friendlier. Sleep stays away from people who aren’t friendly, I surmise. So I’m extending gentle invitations like heading to my bed with a book occasionally at the ripe old hour of 7pm. Or letting my head rest on the side of the couch. Then sleep comes, sends me luscious dreams and I find myself seduced into wanting more.

  5. First off, I love that your husband gave you the opportunity to take care of yourself at that much needed time; you are clearly a good parenting team!

    Secondly, I can’t even fathom the extent of your “to-do” list. I am much the same; when my list is over 20 items long, I tend to freeze up and either read a book or hop on facebook. Procrastinate for a bit, then get back to it. Somehow that helps. I wish sleep helped, but I am never able to fall asleep when I am overwhelmed.

    I love the image of your cocoon!

  6. My body’s response to stress like that (move, work, to-do lists) is extreme fatigue, which makes me incapable of doing anything other than to go into a deep, deep slumber or a trance-like state where all I can manage is to couch veg. I can only imagine, with all the tasks you have at hand, how your body craves the rest from the constant physical activity of the everyday mundane chores and the whirring in your brain about to-do lists that are yet to be tackled.

    Glad you got the change to go easy on yourself. Remember, this too shall pass…but until then remember you can’t do it all. And it’s quite all right too.

  7. I’m finding myself needing a cocoon these days as well… and we’re only moving about 20 minutes north, I can’t imagine a different country! You’ll do great though 🙂
    My cocoon is my bed, from whenever the kids get up until Lucas goes to work. I hide out in my bed while Lucas plays w/ the kids… and while sometimes it might be only fifteen minutes, and sometimes two hours, it is the most incredible alone time to get charged and ready for the day.
    Thinking of you… xxo

  8. When I get a chance, that’s exactly how I shut the world out!

  9. You’ll do what needs doing. Like life with a newborn, the essential gets done. Like a deep rest.

  10. I can’t do the cocoon thing… definitely need a leg and an arm free and the head couldn’t possibly go under!

    Floating in the pool shuts everything out for me.

    I hope you find your moving groove, Stacia. The task is enormous so procrastination is bound to dog you. x

  11. I think it’s a very smart defense mechanism. You’ll emerge ready to tackle one thing at a time, and you’ll get done what absolutely has to get done.

  12. Beautifully written, Stacia. For me to escape, I tell my husband to take over and go up to my bed to hide. I have hard memories of my daughter being a newborn, because my hormones were on a roller coaster. i really can’t imagine doing it again.

    But one thing I remember is just having a half hour to read before I fell asleep and my husband held the baby on the couch. It was a toss-up (sleep or read?), but it made me feel normal again, and I really needed that.

  13. Yes, hiding out. My husband sent me to bed last night and took care of the household chores because he knew I needed that rest to face the week. I know that as we get closer to our own move I will need those early nights more and more. You are moving across the world and I am moving across the country. Very different, of course, but similar in the aspect of change.

  14. Your cocoon image sounds inviting in one way, stifling in another. When I need to shut out the world, I retreat to my bedroom and shut the door. Just me and a book or the DVR until I feel ready to face … everything … again. I guess that’s my cocoon, it just isn’t quite so tight.

    Also? If I were hurtling toward all the changes and challenges you guys are, I’d probably need more than an hour of sensory deprivation to keep from losing my mind in the overwhelm.

  15. Oh yes, I get this. I’ve had a particulary rough weekend and I don’t know where to start. I finally called it a day yesterday and curled up in my bed and went to sleep. Sending you some energy to help tackle your move.

  16. Oh, I really liked Kate’s advice that you’ll do what needs doing. I’m sure your list is long, but I bet it will look more manageable the more you are able to step back and recharge (easier said than done, I know). Not sure if your husband made a stroller decision, but I highly recommend the Baby Jogger Citi Mini Double — not great for jogging exactly (not that I’d know), but lightweight, easy to fold and travel with, and wheels that are hard enough for rugged terrain but do not need to be inflated. Just my two cents.

  17. Once again I can relate so well to your words. You did right by shutting yourself out for a little while. Making this kind of move really is huge and overwhelming to the point of paralysis (I had felt the same when we moved back to the US). I wonder if you can get anyone to watch the kids for a little bit each day, and chip away at your to-do list little by little. In my case I realized that ultimately I had to let some things go and just accept that I was not going to be 100% thorough in my packing and planning. I concentrated on the key things like choosing an area to live, school system, etc., but was more slack on things like packing.

    I sleep to escape too…

  18. Wow, that sounds nice! I don’t think I ever get the chance to do that. Or, I spend the time doing something else. I think my coccoon is the computer. I feel at peace here, and enjoy it, but it doesn’t really clear my mind. I could use a long nap. 🙂

  19. I wrote about cocooning back when we were still under major construction. I would cocoon a lot more if I had the time. I love to be warm and safe in my bed. I hope you get a fresh breath of wind.

  20. okay, fresh breath of wind doesn’t make any sense, but you get my drift …

    • I bet it translates pretty well in French, and besides, I know what you mean! =>

  21. The cold has really gotten to me this year – made me feel flimsy and frustrated. When I sit down to warm up, I should pull the covers up over my eyes – because I always look around and get overwhelmed by all that lacks paint or flooring or trim or insulation. But at the end of that to-do list, we’ll just stay here. I had a hard time imagining moving across the ocean when I was a single college student, and now it feels more impossible yet.
    When I get the chance for a real, private cocoon, it’s a story I can get lost in, either in a good book or a bad television show. (I won’t lie: my latest is Nip/Tuck via Netflix Instant Watch. There. I said it.)

  22. It’s like you were swaddling yourself. I imagine that would be comforting when things are overwhelming, just as it is for babies. I always sleep with tons of blankets wrapped tight; not sure what that says about me!

  23. You are facing an overwhelming experience. I think it’s only natural to feel paralyzed when you think of all the tasks that need to be accomplished. How about taking it one step at a time? Or breaking the jobs up into smaller tasks?

  24. I have cocooned myself underwater a lot lately. In the tub, I get the water up over my ears and it blocks most of the household noises. It’s so easy to close my eyes and just breathe deeply…

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