I wrote a post about bed-sharing when my daughter was in her first year. I advocate co-sleeping, and bed-sharing worked very well for me. It continued to work well into her second year, though it added additional difficulties and sweetnesses. For example, every time I rolled over she would nuzzle to nurse, and I stopped being able to sleep through it as easily. On the other hand, I will always treasure waking up with her next to me, snuggling close and having sleepy conversations as the family came to life for the day.
When I first jotted down notes for this post, I’d planned it to be a rah-rah kind of thing. Many people move their kid to their own bed or room early on, and I wanted to talk about my experience of not having done so. However, in the last three weeks my daughter has essentially moved herself out of my bed.
We made her a nest from two mattress toppers and placed it on the floor at the foot of our bed. It’s got her lovies in it, a pee-pad, and a kid-sized blanket. (She’s started showing a preference for certain lovies and blankets, so I guess it’s all of a developmental piece.) Her box of bedtime stories has always included a great book about sleeping alone. We began having her naps in the nest. One night she told me that she wanted to sleep in it. I asked her if she wanted to do it alone, and she said, “No, with Mama.” And so we started the process.
I slept the whole night with her for about two weeks. Then I started getting up to sleep in my bed, and returning to her whenever I heard her roll over or talk in her sleep. This meant I slept about half the night in each place. Finally, I started waiting what felt like an excruciatingly long time before getting up to check on her — or not getting up at all — and 90% of the time she put herself back to sleep. On rough nights I’m up and down all night, or I just sleep with her because I’m too tired to get up, but we’ve had more than one night where she went seven hours without waking fully and needing me. (And yes, on those nights I did have to get up and make sure she still breathed. I’ve gotten up early on a number of occasions because I’m so shocked that she’s still asleep that I’m convinced something terrible has happened, and it’s impossible to sleep feeling that adrenalized.)
We’re all still adjusting. Some nights I wake every two hours. I’m not sure if I’m sleeping so lightly that I hear her roll over, or I’m just used to waking frequently. We’re still very attuned. My husband has observed that our bodies seem to be synchronized: I sigh and she sighs; she rolls over and I roll over, even though we’re in separate beds. Some nights I sleep for a long chunk of time. Some mornings she wakes up and crawls in bed with us. I’ve told her that she can crawl into our bed if the sun is up; we’ll see how that holds up in future months.
I thought I would miss her in my bed more than I do. I do miss her, don’t get me wrong, but it isn’t a deep pain. This lets me know that we did it at the right time. I finally cared more about sleeping comfortably than sleeping next to her, so I don’t feel much regret or withdrawal. She seemed ready, so I know it was her choice. Her dad was more than ready, and he’s happier, too. I don’t know how long she’ll be in our room, but probably longer than I think and simultaneously not quite long enough.