I never read the book Three in a Bed, but I read plenty of other articles on co-sleeping and lots of the Sears library, and I've been to plenty of meetings of Attachment Parenting International and La Leche League, where we've talked about the family bed and night feedings. When my son was a baby, I could not fathom how anyone could want their child in a separate room.
But in the last few months, I forgot how much I initially loved sharing sleep. First I started sleeping in the spare bedroom on our old queen bed because our new latex mattress was making my back ache. Then I continued in part because my son seemed to sleep better and allow himself to be soothed by my husband if I wasn't there. I found myself saying the words I never thought I'd utter: Yeah, he sleeps through the night. This meant that he didn't wake to nurse and didn't wake to upset -- he just learned to go back to sleep.
And I learned to sleep well, too. It felt like I was living alone in a dorm room. For a while I would read poetry before shutting out the light and enjoying the expanse of the bed all to myself with no worries that I was going to wake up a boy -- my little one, or my sensitive sleeper husband. I think part of the reason my son got so used to nursing at every light waking was my desire to keep everything quiet so LJ wouldn't be too grumpy in the morning. That guy has a high sleep need, and it had better be quality sleep. So I stuffed E's little mouth with a breast before he had much of a chance to learn to self-soothe.
So it was heaven to be able to be apart from my son and yet know my husband could soothe him easily. Little E would toddle into the other room in the morning and snuggle with me, often falling back asleep after nursing. We all finally got solid sleep.
E slept alone most nights on vacation this summer, and I started to think about giving him his own room. Then the nap protesting started, and I figured he'd do better with space that was his own to quietly play/read/be rather than give him the whole upstairs to run around. The teacher at our Waldorf school agreed that he needed his own space.
At first, he seemed fine with it, talking about being a big boy in a big bed and in his own room -- and also about the "puppy" (huge stuffed dog) from my childhood that now takes up probably a full 10% of the room's surface area, a third of what is not covered by the full futon. But he does seem to be having some adjustment issues, and he's not the only one.
Last night I met my husband at a restaurant so that I could attend a meeting and he could bring the boy home. I said goodbye to them at 6:30 p.m. E fell asleep on the way home, as I'd predicted. When I finally came to bed at 12:30 a.m., I missed my boy a little. When I woke at 4:30 a.m. needing to pee, I missed him more. I knew he might wake soon since he'd gone to sleep early without a full last nursing, and it's no fun to try to get back to sleep worrying you're going to have to get up. (We are trying to keep him staying in his room as opposed to coming into our room, where he'll just wake LJ up. Eventually I'll probably still go in there but not nurse him in bed.)
I crawled into his bed, trying to give him some space. Within a few seconds, he gravitated toward me, his hands feeling around for my face. "Mommy..." he exhaled. "I want to nurse." I gave him a sip of almond milk and told him it was time to snuggle and sleep. This he accepted, but he nestled in close. We both slept for another two hours before he woke to nurse and start the day.
It's now 11:40 p.m. on another no-nap day. I don't know when I'll get to bed or what I'll do when I go upstairs. I'm behind on several projects having had almost zero solo weekday time in the past two weeks since he won't rest and I'm trying to be consistent that we stay quiet in his room. But I had log on (after over a week of no posting!) to make sure I documented how pulled I was by my son now that I know he's all alone in there. After so many frustrating afternoons with him not resting and in fact getting mad and aggressive with me, it's nice to feel how strong this desire for closeness and connection still is.
Man, I love him.