Before I had kids, I decided that from day 1, my kids would sleep in their own cribs. Once I was pregnant, I made sure that the crib was completely ready to go, in case my baby girl came early, we would have the ability to start her on that routine right off the bat. We had a bassinet in our bedroom and on the day we got home from the hospital, once she was finally asleep, I lay her down in it and finally got myself back into my own bed.
But then she woke up. No big deal, I knew exactly what to do! I nursed my sweet, beautiful girl back to sleep, and returned her to her bassinet. Back to bed I went, a little drowsy, but still on that I-can’t-believe-I’m-a-mom-now high. I was awesome! Self taught, no lessons! This baby thing was going to be a breeze! And then, about 2 hours later, up we went again, boob, sleep, back to bed. This went on all night, and all morning for a good 3-4 days. By about day 4, I was done, completely defeated. I was a walking zombie and could no longer fathom the idea of getting up one. More. Time. So, I did what many nursing, sleep-deprived mothers do; I brought my baby into the bed with us so that I could nurse her without having to get up.
At first, it was a temporary thing. “My baby will totally go back to her own crib, as soon as she starts sleeping through the night…sometime around 3 months.” Nope. She did not sleep through the night until she was about 18 months old. 18 months. 72 weeks. That’s one hell of a long time to go without a real night’s sleep. And, it’s also one hell of a long time of building a “bad” habit. Getting her out of our bed, after 18 months, was not going to be easy. This baby thing was most certainly NOT going to be a breeze.
And then came baby #2. Well, at the very least we had learned from our mistakes and would have one kid properly sleep trained. Nope! Our solution this time around was….wait for it…a king size bed. That’s right ladies and gentlemen, for over one year we slept (and I use that word “slept” loosely) two adults and two kids in the same bed. There were nights when it was tough, one kid waking up the other, dad taking a heel to the face at 3 a.m, constant nursing. But, there were also moments when it was so sweet. Waking up to the three most important people in my life, having all of them within arms reach, safe and sound in our own little bubble; I will forever cherish those moments. Seeing the three of them, completely sprawled out, a sea of limbs, drool and snores, first thing in the morning…pure bliss and complete peace.
As big sister turned four and baby sister approached her first birthday, we knew that it was time to rip off the bandaid and just do it. They needed to develop healthy sleep habits, not to mention that big girl has apparently inherited her father’s soccer-player feet and a kick to the face was now enough to cause some real bruising. So, out they went, better late than never. Admittedly, we had tried some half-assed attempts to coax them out of our bed and into their own a few times. I had managed to get big-girl napping in her own bed. Woohoo, point for me! Heck, the fact that I could still get her to nap at all at the age of four I think deserves another point! Slowly, we were also able to get baby sister to sleep part of the night in her crib…point again! But alas, by about 3 a.m, my bed was once again blissfully crowded.
Cut to one week ago when I, once again, got the itch to redo their room. I was bored, and the room had looked the same for over a year now, which is way longer than I can usually stand a room before I go and change something. Also, we had been noticing that baby sister tended to fall asleep much more easily and stayed asleep much longer, when she slept on a bed rather than in a crib. My mom reminded me that I too had preferred a twin-size bed over my own crib as a baby, so we thought, what the heck, we have her bed already in the garage, let’s bring it in and give it a try. Full disclosure, I was also super thrilled about being able to move furniture around and play with new layouts and fabrics…woohoo! A new room to decorate!
So, we took our adorable Ikea beds, extended one to twin-size for big sister, left the other one toddler sized for baby sister and, once I was happy with the layout (spoiler alert: I changed it the next day) we began to get ready for bed. But, as we were walking out the door I hear, “You know mom, I think I’m going to sleep in my own bed today.” Huh?!? What now? Come again! On her own, without really any insisting on my part, without putting up a fight, she decided, on her own, that it was time. And just like that, my baby girl, my first born, the child that turned me into a mother, grew up right before my eyes. Baby sister also slept in her own bed that night and as I walked to my own bed, my own, king sized bed, it suddenly felt so big. The truth is, as much as I enjoy not needing to bob and weave to avoid a kick to the head in the middle of the night, I miss them. I cried a little that first night and I got up about six times in one hour just to go check on them…they were fine. They are fine. They are growing up and this was step one towards independence. They are fine, it’s me I’m not so sure about! Maybe after a few more nights of uninterrupted sleep I’ll be singing a different tune! Or maybe I’ll try to lure them back…I’m kidding! Kind of…