When warm spring breezes begin to blow, we will make one last transition in the sleeping arrangements of our children: we will move our son to his own bed.
D (the blog name for our third and last child) has never slept anywhere but in our big king-size bed, between my husband and I. He sleeps quietly, clutching his bizarre choice of lovies (which have ranged from a tube of CARS toothpaste to a pointy metal airplane). We plan to make the move before his fourth birthday arrives.
Yes, you read that right. He will be four years old in September.
We hadn't set out to be a family of co-sleepers. Before my first daughter was born in January 2001, we had a 'nursery painting party' with my mom and sister. I researched cribs and settled on a sturdy white one with a good mattress, fun mobile and warm purple fitted crib sheet.
And then she was born.
I remember before she was born, older moms would tell me to enjoy my sleep. I had no idea what they meant, mainly because I had such horrific heartburn and rib pain, sleep was not my friend during my late pregnancy. After a few days home with a hungry newborn, though, I knew what they meant. She wanted to nurse All The Time. I was recovering from a painful and unexpected c-section. It was hard to move her to her crib, or even to the cradle attached to our bed. One night, exhausted, I feel asleep with her on my chest. I woke with a start: was she breathing? Why wasn't she crying?
It was then I realized that she was the calmest and happiest I had ever seen her, sleeping quietly in my arms, against my chest.
We still tried to use the crib, but I didn't have the stomach for crying-it-out (I don't think the mom is supposed to cry more than the infant). It seemed kind of crazy to let her scream when the crying turned off immediately the second I held her or placed her next to me in our bed.
And, thus, our 'family bed' was born.
Two years later, I gave birth to our second daughter. For a while, we were all four in the bed, but soon moved our oldest to a bed in the 'nursery' (which was now a guest room having never really been used as a nursery). My husband began to sleep with our oldest to give me alone time with a needy infant.
But, for those who think, "well that sounds nice, but it must've been death to their sex life", all I can say is that when #2 was a mere 9 months old, I found out I was pregnant with #3. In other words, our sex life was, and is, just fine, thankyouverymuch.
Before #3 was born, we gave away our crib. There was no need to even pretend it would be used.
Things were tricky for a while after our little man was born. Jilly (#2) is the wiggliest sleeper ever, plus she suffered from screaming fits in the middle of the night. We moved her to a mattress on the floor next to our bed which worked out fairly well, although, yes, there were nights when all of them tried to fit into our not-so-big-anymore king.
Once we moved the girls into their own room together, we saw improvements in our overnight life. When they feel needy, they sleep together in their full-size beds. I've been known to crawl under their covers to comfort them after a scary dream. Occasionally, I wake to find one of them has crawled into the tiny space between me and the edge of the bed. I just pick her up and return her to her bed.
And, our son? He sleeps like a stone----a warm, soft, sweet stone that reaches out to touch my face in the night. Even Fairly Odd Father said that he'd miss him when he leaves the bed. It's a milestone that neither of us is eager to reach. I think about D in his own bed, in his own room, alone, and it makes me sad. I may just have to get a dog to sleep on his bed.
So whenever a new pregnant mom tells me that she "has to" get a crib, I smile and think about our family. And I feel a bit wistful about the transition to come and about the space in our bed that will no longer be warmed by our little guy.
Maybe we should get two dogs.