Monday, October 19, 2009
Tweaking the Family Bed
With Doug out of town last week on a business trip, I attempted to tweak our sleeping arrangements to make things more comfortable for my mom.
Doug and I have co-slept (or sleep-shared or practiced the Family Bed, however you want to call it) since Aidan was born. With each child we set up a separate baby-sleeping space, in our room, to use if needed for naps or for a baby to play while we got dressed/got ready in the morning, but night time sleep has been with a parent close by. Sean was only only baby that was content for awhile to sleep in a separate baby space for a few hours at a time when he was an infant. Eventually his reflux and apnea issues caused him to spend more time being held while sleeping than not.
Aidan was a high needs infant that still has a strong need for touch when he sleeps. If he sleeps close to someone, he sleeps soundly and through the night. If he doesn't get that need met, he is very restless and wakes frequently. Sean doesn't so much as need the constant sense of touching, but he does wake often due to some apnea. When he wakes, he sits up in bed and then flops himself in half or we pat his back to sooth him back to sleep.
Ella sleeps fairly well compared to the boys at this age. She wakes about 2 or 3 times a night and nurses back to sleep. Co-sleeping with her certainly makes night feedings easier for me! Aidan night weaned around age 4 and Sean was about 2 1/2 or 3 when he night weaned. I expect to be night nursing for some time still.
Usually our night time sleep arrangements work fine for us. Our children's needs are being met and they are happy. We are happy because we spend more time sleeping and not getting in and out of bed all night to tend to crying children. However, when one of us isn't there overnight, it can be a challenge. I have slept with all three in our king size bed, but frankly it isn't too comfy for me. I get too hot and don't sleep well. So when Doug is going to be gone several nights I call in the back up. :)
My parents and Doug's parents never co-slept with their kids and don't really understand why we'd want to. Luckily, though, they have been willing to follow our routine when they help overnight.
Back to this past week. I didn't want my mom to have to sleep snug between both boys, so I tried to figure out a way to keep one of the boys in my room. Doug and I converted the unused crib into a toddler/day bed arrangement. This first night, Aidan was eager to try sleeping in it and fell right asleep at bedtime in the "little bed" in Mommy's room. He thought he'd be fine, because he could see Ella and I from across the room. Sometime around 1 am he woke up and didn't like it any more. I told him it was ok, I was right there and to lay back down. Repeat every 15 mins for over an hour. Finally, I said, "Okay just get in bed with us." Mind you, Ella and I sleep in a queen size bed.
The second night, I re-arranged the furniture to set the small bed next to mine in a side-car fashion. *Note: if you do this with a baby or young toddler, you need to make certain safety measures.* Aidan thought this would be much better for him, he could see me and hold my hand if he got scared.
Again, he fell asleep easily at bedtime and slept well until 1-ish, then restless until I agreed to let him sleep next to me. Both nights, as soon as he was in my bed he slept soundly until it was time to get up for the day.
On the third night, Sean fell asleep at 6:30 (2 hrs earlier than bedtime) and I put him in the little bed to see if he could sleep through the night in there. Aidan slept with Nana and they both had a good night's sleep. Sean slept well for several hours, but when he began doing his wake-sit up-flop down pattern, he flopped down and hit his head on the side of the crib. After hearing him whack his head a couple more times, I moved him into my bed so I could get some sleep.
So, it didn't really work out for us. Doug and I often wonder if the boys will just go from sleeping with us, to sleeping in a queen size bed together without us before sleeping alone. They just are used to hearing another person while they sleep and having a bigger bed to roll about on.
I must admit, I was happy to go back to just one little one in my bed once Doug came home!