Monday, May 30, 2011

Changing tides

We co-sleep. I should probably correct that to the truth of what we do; we bed share. I'm all about co-sleeping safely and effectively, except that we've never owned a co-sleeper and neither of my kids have functioned well sleeping on their own in a separate unit, even if it was right next to the bed. Believe me, I tried both times! G had a bassinet and a crib, neither of which he spent much time in, and we had a Pack 'n' Play with an upper section for smaller babies that we tried to put A in when he was little. Neither slept well, neither liked it, and with A it just made breastfeeding a pain in the patootie. So we shared our bed with our kids - sometimes happily, sometimes not so much - and made things work. In 2009 it meant an upgrade to a king sized bed so we could easily accommodate ourselves (we're big!) and two growing kids, but we had by that time also acquired a big blue racecar bed for G that fit his crib mattress perfectly. We introduced it slowly but never really pushed the issue of him using it, and after a while he was more or less content there. A went much the same; we found a toddler bed that fit his crib mattress and had rails (because he seems to flail much more in his own bed) and introduced it to him.

But we put them in the same room. Granted, we didn't HAVE to, but it seemed to work out. Then, we lapsed. We had some lazy days, some bad days, some late days where bedtime simply wasn't enforced or followed, and our routine collapsed simply because we didn't want to have to stick to it. Granted, it isn't tough, but we were grouchy and self-centered. We threw (not literally) the kids into our bed. And for a long while, Hubby and I really didn't see much of each other.

Mind you, I love bed sharing, especially when the kids are little. It makes caring for a new baby so much easier, and I love knowing my little ones are close to me if they need me. But as they grow, it becomes tougher and tougher to share space with them. G, for instance, is 41" tall and 44 lbs - at or just barely above the 95th percentile for boys his age, and trust me when I say the kid is a bean stalk - and he knows how to use those wiggly appendages to his advantage at night. He kicks, pushes, shoves, and has a tendency to find a way to shove his heels into Hubby's testicles a bit too often for comfort. Add in a squirming 22 month old who reaches similar proportions who prefers sleeping perpendicular to everyone else, and I'm sure it's easy to understand how even in a king sized bed, two overweight adults of average height could feel... Well, crowded out of bed. Hubby seems to deal with it worse than I do, though in all honesty the physical comfort aspect isn't the only reason we're starting to feel that itch to make sure the kids at least start the night out of our bed again - we're human, after all, and sort of in a relationship where we kind of like spending time together alone for a multitude of reasons. It's hard to be intimate when you know you're sharing space with a kid who can and will wake up at the most inopportune moments (they already do it from their room, I don't see why it would change if they were IN the room), difficult to snuggle, hard to even have a conversation in the dark at the end of the day.

So two weeks ago or so the migration back to their own beds began again. And it wasn't pretty.

The first probably 11 days or so were hell. There were a few nights we crumbled, where I bent the comfort level and stayed in the room far longer than I probably should have to comfort upset kids who wanted nothing more than to come lay in Mommy and Daddy's bed. I sang extra songs, we read more books, we told more stories. I patted backs and offered comfort and even sat in the hallway in a folding chair sometimes, just outside their room, because it seemed to encourage A to stay in his bed and give sleep a fighting chance. We learned to remove ourselves from the room more swiftly than ninjas. I gave in and let angry, half-asleep kids come back into our bed after only a couple of hours in theirs because I knew I had to pick and choose my fights - and I need sleep to function during the day. But overall, we managed, and the last two nights have been surprisingly easy. A has stopped insisting that he be held to sleep, or that he be laying on my arm. G has been more accepting of his bed (although he still complains before bed that it's "too soft", which I know it isn't, and this confuses me) and the other night actually stayed there until 6AM. Sure, both boys end up in our bed more often than not halfway through the night, but in my opinion it's a good start.

Besides, I don't mind still sharing space with them sometimes - I just miss my Hubby.

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