Friday, November 2, 2007

The art of bed-hopping

Do other families do this? Our sleeping arrangements have always been rather haphazard. I recently found Jemima, who has been sleeping in an adult bed since she was one, curled up as though back in the womb, in Bella’s tiny co-sleeper one-sided cot thingy, while her baby sister lay spread-eagled in the middle of our bed. But this week we excelled ourselves. This week I have seriously questioned our decision to forgo the good old traditional cot.

For whatever I may feel about them, there is something about a cot that conjures up images of order and peace. As if everyone whose baby sleeps in one has a quiet night, 7-7, a la Gina Ford. Having used one myself (as a mother I mean) of course I know this is not necessarily true. But the very presence of a cot in a house is somehow reassuring. It seems to imply that everything and everyone is in its right and proper place.

Given the blurring of boundaries at home lately, this seems a particularly attractive concept. Seriously, even Goldilocks would have scratched her head had she happened upon our house at six o’clock this morning. For in the child’s bed she would have found Mummy Bear, in the middle-sized bed, Daddy Bear, and in the giant-sized bed… two cuddly, fluffy, baby bears! They’d have such angelic looks upon their faces that surely they had been in this peaceful slumber all night. She’d probably want to curl up with them, but she’d "BETTER BLOODY NOT WAKE THEM!"

Since Sunday night, Jemima has been arriving in our room, at some unearthly hour, having woken herself up coughing. She has a stinking cold and has been utterly miserable all week. (Despite two and a quarter years of breast milk she appears to have had every virus going since she started pre-school in September. She hardly ever gets the fevers though, so it may have helped a little I suppose.)

Every parent knows the story. You do your ritual bedtime calculation of how many hours’ sleep you can get in before morning, subtracting the minutes that would be taken up with feeds… (Hang on, it's just me isn't it. Does it count as an OCD, do you think?), and you turn out the light.

You are just slipping into a deep and blissful sleep when you hear a pitter patter of tiny feet that stops somewhere level with your face. You close your eyes even tighter as you pretend you can’t feel the warm breath on your nose. There is a silent yet highly tangible presence so charged with expectation that you can only ignore it for a few seconds. And although you knew she was there, you still jump when you open your eyes to see hers staring right back at you, so close that your eyelashes touch.

The trouble is that Jemima always looks especially sweet in these, all too, frequent instances. She seems so tiny in her pyjamas, cuddling her blanket that drags along the floor behind her. Her golden curls are usually plastered to her sweaty forehead, with the rest of it sticking up in every direction. Hairdressers across the world spend hours trying to achieve this ‘bedhead’ look. She’s hard to resist, and anyway we’ve always found it easier to get into bed with her (She’s been in an adult bed since she was one) or let her join us, than to faf about in the middle of the night trying to get her back to sleep alone.

But last night it all got too much. There are only so many nights in a row I can cope with sleeping next to a wriggling, kicking, coughing, squirming child who, though only a metre tall and a few centimeters wide, can easily take up an entire king-size bed. Did I mention her endearing habit of murmuring “Cuddle me Mummy!” and flinging her body on top of mine, at well-timed intervals, just as I am dropping off? Or the fact that, on more than one occasion this week, after Jemima finally fell into a deep, unshakable sleep round about dawn, Bella woke for a feed, and then pooed all over the bed.

Yes, last night I confess I would have killed for a cot. Extra large with extra high sides. Think how peacefully I could have slept inside one of those.

1 comment:

Anja said...

good to know Lilian is not the only proud owner of the most beautiful cot and couldn´t be bothered to spend ONE night in it. She will be 3 in march and we luuuuv it cuddling her all night. will she ever sleep in a bed of her own? I don´t want to know, too soon has my (now 15 year old) son left my bedside. was it 10 years ago? so there is hope for my own space in bed but yet regrets once they prefer their own space.

Thanks for the wonderful common experiences you share. many warm greetz from Colombo, Sri Lanka, Anja (a friend of Tara M.)