At what point after having a baby, do you separate from that child at night?
Does your little bundle have a room all to themselves from the first day? Do you wait a few months? Longer??
How about years? Like…..4, and counting.
I don’t know how it happened exactly, but my 2 youngest have never actually left my room. Well, I do have a pretty good idea of how it came about. Something along the lines of my husband saying “they aren’t leaving”… yep, that’s what it was.
At first, I was embarrassed to tell people. Because when it DID come up in conversation I would get those looks. Incredulous. Confused. Even irritated. “Oh God, are you one of THOSE moms?”
I have been told I am hurting my children, somehow inhibiting their independence by not allowing them to sleep out of my room. I have been offered sympathy by women who know how my husband feels about having the kids sleeping alone, as I must surely suffer, huddled in a ball in the corner as those three take up all available sleeping space.
It WAS something I thought was wrong….at first. Because I did “the right” thing with my two oldest. At the proper time, dictated by family and society, they were moved to their own rooms. The oldest was fine, but I’m pretty sure she would have been just as great sleeping in the kitchen sink at night. She was just way too easy. Made it REALLY hard to have a normal baby after that. My second was not a great sleeper. I spent many nights running into his room, picking him up and standing next to his crib as I swayed with him until he slept again. He was 3 before I could just put him to bed and night and walk out of the room. My fault? I guess….because I don’t like to let kids cry, so I was willing to do what I needed to comfort him. It WOULD have been a lot easier if he’d have just slept in my room, but I never even thought that was a serious option.
Now with my 4 year old, his daddy kept delaying that move out of our room. At first I was exasperated. I felt like I was stunting his growth somehow by not taking that step, because every 5 month old needs his own place! I got upset over my husbands snoring, sure that it was going to cause a lifetime of sleep disturbances in my precious bundle. I argued that he needed to get used to being WITHOUT us ALL THE TIME, it was time for that kid to grow up! People close to us would ask if we’d put him into his own room yet. My half smile and eyes rolling would be the only answer.
A funny thing happened though. I noticed that every time I finally “put my foot down” about moving the boy out of our room… I would find excuses to delay it. Longer and longer. Well, the hallway was too long, I needed to wait until he was really good on his feet and we got some sort of gate attached to the top of the stairs before I could consider it. Then, I was afraid of him being disturbed by his older brother who had to get up and get ready for school early, surely it would wake him up each morning. After a while, we just stopped even discussing it.
During my pregnancy with the last one, I really thought I needed to move Sammy out….to give him a break from the newborn crying and night feedings that were sure to happen. My husband seemed to think that it would all work out and everyone would find a way to sleep. I dragged my feet, and then it was too late. I worried that moving him out right before the baby came would make him feel displaced and kicked out. So he stayed. And somehow it worked out.
I still remember when the baby was 5 weeks old. The first night I tried actually putting her to bed upstairs instead of keeping her downstairs with me until I went up. I was used to sitting with Sammy at night until he fell asleep. That night, I sat up on my bed holding the baby close in the dark, Sammy lying next to me as I rubbed his back. It was nice, and they both eventually slept. I put her in her crib, so worried she would wake and cry, bothering her brother at any moment. She didn’t wake until I was coming to bed, and fell back to sleep after nursing. That night started our new ritual, and most nights we do the same thing. Both kids fall asleep as we sit in the dark (as I read my kindle..guilty pleasure).
Thank God our room is big enough, although sometimes our bed isn’t. Although we move Sammy to his bed, he often ends back up in mine. The baby too, closer to morning. She gathers up her blanket and her binkie, stands up and waits for me to notice her. I do, her crib is right next to my head, and I pick her up and cuddle her next to me. Most of the time, she snuggles and goes back to sleep. Those moments are golden.
I am comfortable with this arrangement. I no longer feel ashamed, and I wonder why I ever did. Why does it bother people that we keep these guys with us during the night? I don’t think it has affected their ability to sleep at night. I didn’t do sleep training, I didn’t do cry it out. I’m too much of a wuss, really. And maybe I’m just too lazy. It’s a hell of a lot more stressful to listen to your child crying as you fight the urges you were programmed with….to answer them and comfort them.
I’ve already committed myself to broken sleep for years. I can take it. I really like having them in my room. It’s OUR room. Both the older kids went through spells of wanting to sleep in “mommy’s bed” It was a weekend thing for years, and then comes the time when your child doesn’t want that closeness anymore. They will always get to that point, when they want to pull away, and I miss it. So I appreciate it so much more with my current little ones, knowing those little warm bodies won’t be there to snuggle with me forever.