Monday, November 17, 2008

Bella’s co-sleeping adventures continued...

So many of you have got back to me about the fact that Bella started to
co-sleep through the night that I feel I have to keep you up to date with how it is all going. Mostly because this morning I woke up at 6am feeling spookily well-rested and then realised that I had not woken since 9.30 last night. Something must have been up. It was only when I looked around the bed for Bella that I remembered the monumental decision we took, and then acted upon very excitedly, yesterday. Of course! Bella has a new co-sleeping partner. And judging by her absence this morning, they get on well together too!

It was after five nights by the beach, where Bella and Jemima shared one bed and we slept blissfully and peacefully in the other, entirely free of little bodies. You know the ones – they are tiny by day but then strangely transmogrify into huge gangly other-worldly manifestations the minute they fall asleep in your bed? They definitely have more limbs than is normal, and feel decidedly sack-like (sand-filled) when draped across you.

Well, it was the absence of these bodies that made us finally admit to ourselves that although Bella has been effectively co-sleeping through the night, in that she rarely feeds between the hours of 7 and 6 any more, her very presence in the bed (read: on my head, under my leg, finger up my nose... go on, make up your own, they’ll all be true), not only woke both of us about three times a night, but also made it the first place Jemima thought of coming whenever anything happened to wake her (there have been a lot of night time storms lately). To put it plainly, it didn’t matter that Bella was sleeping through, we still weren’t.

So we wasted no time. Yesterday we gave Jemima’s bed back to the landlady and put her mattress on the floor. Today I will put a fairy-like mosquito net up and they will have their own little palace. Jemima was thrilled as she will no longer be on her own and Bella, well, she slept there all night cuddled up to her sister, so I am presuming she has no real objections either. She still goes to sleep on the boob and this morning at 6 she snuck into our bed for a snuggly feed and then we went back to sleep together for a while - heaven.

Should I feel sad that this era is over for us? Well, four years experience of attachment parenting has made me a realist at last. She still has many teeth to come not to mention bad dreams, illness etc... But one night of full, deep, undisturbed sleep is worth celebrating no matter how it goes from here.

My overwhelming feeling, apart from the awake-and-not-tired one, is relief. I have done something essentially for myself, and I don't feel guilty! If you are a mother you will share my astonishment. Imagine getting the reward and being able to enjoy it guilt-free! This is thanks to Jemima. With one child, if you believe in co-sleeping, the day you stop is filled with angst about letting the child down or pushing them away. Bella would probably be with us for another year if she were an only child. The fact that she has a big sister and so can continue to sleep alongside another warm and beloved body makes the whole decision so easy. And it is probably far more likely to work because it is true that if either wakes, provided they feel emotionally and physically well, seeing or feeling their sister curled up with them is enough to make them just go back to sleep rather than come looking for us. Hooray. Life feels good today. I hope yours does too.


Ann-Marie Dewhurst said...

Yay! A great post, so positive and fresh xxx

Caroline said...

Lovely! So great when things come to a peaceful conclusion.

Actually there was no angst when K left our bed at 20mo - she made the decision for herself, very articulately ("My bed! Night night!" and practically shooed us away!). There was no mistaking her intention and requirements for space to sleep; she almost instantly night-weaned herself at that point and has loved her room ever since. It does help that she's always been capable of opening her door and hurtling through any time she needs us, and after a while we did come to the conclusion that Daddy sleeps better elsewhere (those giant toddler limbs, lol). But all in all, a good transition for us; it needn't be worrisome if it's the right time, I don't think.

Georgie said...

Lovely to hear thsi and yes you are right I am sure... I think the trouble is that some children's 'right time' does not come before they are 3 or 4... maybe a bit late for some parents. We messed up with Jemima and her sleep in some ways, being new parents not following our instincts. Mostly we did ok but we did pressure her to sleep alone too early and now at 4 1/4 years she'd definitely rather sleep with us or Bella. We always fall asleep with her or she does with B and she is getting better at being flexible with us if we are busy etc but still, I am sure all stemmed from not being ready before. ;-( ah me the decisions and consequences we mothers and fathers have to make and live with!!! xxx

Anonymous said...

Ooh - that's great.....Our 3 year old is still in our 'triple' bed although it invariably ends up with her and me in the double and my husband in the single and now that I am pregnant with number 2 (and as sick as a dog, still...) I am dreaming of the day I can have a bit more space! Thing is, she has never had her 'own room' we co-slept from day one. We do have 3 bedrooms - one bedroom is like a TV / computer / playroom and the other is very much a spare room for guests and junk. I suppose we could clear it out and try and do it up but when we had a discussion the other day about how some of her friends have their own rooms and wouldn't she like one she said: 'but I don't want that as I am just a little girl and I might wake up in the night and Mummy etc wouldn't be there and I might be scared...'

It is true that she has blissfully slept through the night 7pm - 6.30am on the whole - since about a year and has NEVER procrastinated about going to bed, never had difficulty going off to sleep and now practically never wakes up unless she needs a pee or there is thunder and that usually involves a scream and her rolling up to me and cuddling me and then her off to sleep again.... So I am kind of loathe to create a problem (maybe) where there is none... Although I have never gone back to sleeping through properly myself and still usually wake before her etc...

She is extremely excited about a sibling and wants to sleep with it etc. Of course, that would be ideal but won't be able to happen for a while - which means we may well have a 4 year old + in our bed.....;-/