Someone told me to “enjoy my sleep while it lasts” while I was deep into my third trimester of pregnancy. Sleep was already a touchy subject, but they didn’t know it. I was uncomfortable waiting and anxious that I would go into labor at my house. At three in the morning, a fully formed little human was kicking me from the inside. Surely things couldn’t be any worse than that, right?
Wrong. The nighttime hours were a total blur when my daughter was a newborn. On this day, however, I had a fresh motive for getting up so early: the early morning meal.
Also, because they were afraid of upsetting me, no one mentioned that I would be fully awake even when she was sound asleep. Infrequent yet terrifying, SIDS can occur. If you’re a parent with a high level of paranoia, you might wake up every 20 minutes to check the monitor.
At this point, I’ve been here for about 2.5 years. My daughter and I have established a good line of communication, and I know how she is doing and what time she goes to bed. There is no longer any need to be paranoid.
Whatever she might need, she can always count on her parents to provide for her.
Still, there’s one lousy routine that’s been tough to kick, especially because getting up at 3 a.m. has been associated with nightmares and feelings of isolation. Some parents might think I’m crazy for having my daughter share a bed with my husband and me, but we don’t mind.
Because of the nature of my job, she has been by my side for the past two years while I’ve been working from home. She could only fall asleep on my chest, which was a major inconvenience. Since I could continue working while also bonding with her, it looked like the best of all worlds.
She began to rely on me to lull her to sleep, much way a pacifier did for me. There were several times when I stooped next to her cot, clutching her hand, to reassure her. Once again, I was feeling a range of emotions.
I wasn’t sure if this was the best approach to put her to sleep, but it made me feel useful at the time.
My back hurts from all the time I spent bending over her crib, rocking her, or carrying her. I figured it was only natural to ask her to share my bed. Initially, I thought I’d just leave her in the playpen and move her to her crib after we were done.
But every time, she woke up in the middle of the transfer, which was a major inconvenience. When that happened, she couldn’t go back to sleep.
I made sure it was dark and surrounded her with pillows so she wouldn’t roll off. I also had Alexa play some soothing spa music in the hopes that it would help her relax. This method was effective, and I found that I was able to break free of our embrace and get some work done while we were separated.
I continued to worry about her, but every time I checked in, she seemed fine.
No parent wants to see their kid upset, but if she is still fidgety or insistent on playing right before naptime despite displaying the usual sleep indications, a time-out is sometimes the best solution. In other words, it’s not easy. Even though she is just alone for five minutes, that time is enough to release any pent-up energy.
She will never have to go without a nap again if this is incorporated into her daily schedule.
We have a rule in our house. He’ll go in and try to soothe her if she wakes up earlier than 12 o’clock. It’s too late, so we just carry her inside.
The reason is that I need sleep too, and if she cuddles up to me, she’ll be asleep in no time. We recognize that this is the simplest solution, but for the time being, it is serving our needs. If it means getting a few hours of uninterrupted sleep each night, sharing a bed is fine.
Of course, I’m also going to be impacted by this plan. It’s getting to the point where I can’t sleep without her. When I awake and she’s not in the room, I check the screen to make sure she’s doing fine.
Many mothers (quite rightly) feel smothered by their children, but I am confident that I will regain my independence eventually.
We feel safer with her in the bedroom now that she is two and a half. Yet, there was a time when she was much younger and we shared a bed. Since there is so much that may go wrong, understandably, most parents are terrified of the concept, and I was no exception.
But if you know how to do it securely and effectively, and it’s the only way you and your partner can both get a good night’s sleep, it might be worth a try.