I slept on the couch three nights in a row last week. It’s the only spot I can carve out where my blankets don’t get kicked off and I don’t get head-butted. And, where one or both of my arms aren’t tingling from squeezing into the little bit of space between H & S (while my husband hangs off what’s left of the other side of the bed.)
We didn’t plan to have a “family bed.” In fact, it was one of the things we swore we would never do. But it just kind of happened early on, during our preemie twins’ slow adjustment to bottle-feeding. It seemed like every time we’d finish the change-feed-snuggle cycle, I’d have just enough time to bond with the breast pump before the baby we fed first was awake and ready to go again. I think someone forgot to inform our newborns that they were supposed to sleep for 16 hours a day. A couple of days in, we were so tired that when the girls fell asleep in our arms instead of their bassinets, we’d startle awake at the next round of crying. Which, if we were lucky, gave us a straight hour of sleep. Score.
As H and S got older, they’d nap in their cribs (eventually, toddler beds) and start out there each night. We tried periodically to undo our sleep habit. The cry-it-out method didn’t work when one of them was asleep, plus we discovered H could cry for over an hour straight. (And so would I.) We rubbed their backs, slept on the floor in their room, held them on the couch and tried to transfer them back to bed. In the end, we couldn’t stick to anything long enough to make it work. The need for some sleep and sanity eventually won over retraining the girls. So they slept half the night in their cribs and the other half curled up in our arms.
It hasn’t been all bad. I love holding my little girls, listening to them breathe, the reassurance of their heartbeats, tiny arms draped over me, and those sweeter-than-anything smiles when they wake up and I’m the first thing they see. But they’re not little babies anymore – they’re four – and now their arms and legs are EVERYWHERE and I can’t sleep. And, if I’m starting out the day feeling like, “Holy crap, I need some space!” it usually goes downhill from there.
After my three nights on the couch, both girls slept through the night by chance – and I decided it’s time to make this stick. (Literally.) With some leftover Mickey stickers from Disney World and a chart taped to their bedroom door, Operation Sleep-In-Your-Own-Bed was in full-effect. The first night was a lot like our first night home from the hospital, but one decent night later, it was worth it. I’m sure the battle isn’t over, but we’re on our way. I wish I was that motivated by stickers (and the promise of a Princess Aurora or Tinker Bell doll.)
Part of me wonders if I will miss our old ways. But chances are that instead of balancing my weight on the edge of the bed, or pulling feet or elbows out of my ribs, I will be too busy sleeping to overanalyze things. And those morning snuggles and proud big-girl smiles will be SO worth the wait.