Sunday, January 3, 2010

How'd we wind up with a family bed?

About nine months ago, Luke moved from his nursery (and crib) into a shared bedroom with Zach... They have bunk beds - Zach on the top, Luke on the bottom. Luke was a very good sleeper at first, but it wasn't long before he started getting out of bed. At first it was several times a night... After a couple of trips returning him to bed, I'd surrender and sleep with him. He loved that, naturally! I was just so tired, I wanted to sleep -- no matter where or with whom.

We'd never really slept with the kids. When they were newborns they slept in bassinets in our room, then moved to cribs in the nursery, and then big boy beds around age 2 1/2. No "family bed"... So, how on earth have we ended up with a family bed now?!?! Sheer exhaustion, that's how!

The routine is such that Luke goes to sleep on his own around 8pm, and wakes up around 3am. He comes to our room, finds us practically comatose from 6+ years of sleep deprivation, and then crawls over me and into his favorite spot between Mom and Dad.

These pictures were taken two nights ago around 10pm. He was having trouble sleeping and wandered downstairs. "I just wanna be with you. I love you. I miss you. I need to snuggle you." Sounds all too familiar. I hear it on those nights when I actually wake up and try to talk him into his bed and out of ours.

He comes in feeling tender, needing to be held. He gets held and loves it. I can tell he's smiling even when it's 3am and pitch black. At any mention of returning to his bed alone, he begins to cry and buries his sweet head.

You see why this is so hard?

But Bryan and I would like to reclaim a little time and space for just us. We're parents, completely available to our little ones every waking hour of the day. I don't think eight hours alone in our bed is too much to ask.

So, two nights ago we started insisting he sleep in his own bed all night. He is extremely stubborn and strong willed, resulting in at least an hour of crying each night. At 3am. He's woken his brother, mother and father. Both nights!

I wondered if we were taking the right approach, so I googled something about putting an end to the family bed. Even though we never intended to have a family bed! I don't know Dr. Jay Gordon from Adam (who's Adam?), but I found his article to be both encouraging and funny. When I want to cry at 3am tonight, I will remember these words...

"Their babies tend to breastfeed for more than one year and they don't sleep through the night any better than most of us would if we napped and cuddled within inches of the best restaurant in town and knew it was open 24 hours a day."

Now, both of our boys stopped nursing at age 1, but the concept is the same. If he can crawl into our arms for cuddles and kisses at all hours of the night, why wouldn't he? And, while I'm at it... I will remind myself that I'm "the best restaurant in town" while I watch him wail, sob, kick and scream in protest. This is for every one's good. He will rest better. We all will.

"I'm assuming that you have a wonderfully healthy 12-, 15-, 20- or 30-month old baby (42 months, but who's counting!) who still loves to wake up every 2 to 4 hours to cuddle, eat or . . . whatever. I'm assuming that you have thought this through, decided you want to make changes and alerted the neighbors that it might be a little noisy for a week or so."

My apologies to our neighbors. I didn't give you a heads up, and it has indeed been noisy!

So... Tonight is number three. Dr. Gordon promises that it will get easier, and I'm holding him to that. I wonder if he has contact information listed online... Just in case I need some restitution.

Today Bryan and Luke hung a calendar in his room. Every night he spends in his bed, he will earn a sticker. After 4 stickers he'll earn an ice cream. After another 4 he'll earn a slushy. He's thrilled!

We also made him this blanket.

I found that sewing with satin is not easy, so I enlisted Bryan's help to keep it straight. Luke watched while we made this, together, for him, with our own hands. I even took a nap under it this afternoon! The plan is for him to cuddle with the blanket while thinking of Mommy and Daddy. We sure do hope the blanket brings a measure of comfort that a stuffed animal cannot.


Marci said...

It sounds like a good plan! I hope it works.

Jenny said...

Very cute blankie! I hope it helps. I always put one of those child proof door knob thingies on the inside of my kids' doors when we moved to a big boy bed. They never even tried to escape and I only did it because I didn't want them getting out of the room in the middle of the night and wandering around the house. Good luck!