Saturday, February 6, 2010

The Family Bed

We are having sleep issues...again. Penelope is not going to bed until eleven o'clock, still waking two to three times a night, Ella is waking in the middle of the night often, and Samantha is having some night accidents. This is leading to us having anywhere from one to three children in the bed at any given time, plus one cat.

When Samantha was born, I had no intention of having children sleep with us. Everything I read said the bed is not a safe place for babies to sleep, but after six months of getting out of bed every one to two hours and trekking across the cold, hardwood floor, I reached my limit of sleep deprivation and Samantha came into our bed.

When it first started, I thought how nice it was to have our baby cuddled up with us, feeling safe and secure, not fighting bedtime, but rather eagerly laying down next to me to sleep a whole night.

Once I regained my mental capacities after recovering from the sleep deprivation, I realized this was not a good idea. She became dependent on one of us being in the bed to sleep, she slept horizontally in the bed, kicking me all night long, so I still wasn't sleeping well. Although we tried to break the habit, the precedent was set, and she continued to share our bed, sometimes just one night at a time, sometimes for weeks at a time.

When Ella came around, I decided I wasn't going to be able to handle the extreme sleeplessness Samantha had brought, so Ella began sleeping in our bed at two weeks old. Since even those that advocate co-sleeping believe it unsafe to have an infant and another child in the same bed, Samantha was booted out. She still needed to sleep with someone, so that meant Sean and she became frequent couch sleepers, much to Sean's back and neck's dismay.

Eventually, we got them both sleeping in their own room for the most part, and then in the same room together for the whole night, with only occasional nighttime visitors.

Now that Penelope is here, we are back to an increase in visitors. Ella is waking, quite possibly a reaction to not being the baby anymore. Instead of bringing her back to her own bed, risking her screaming waking Samantha in their now shared room, I just let her sleep with us, horizontally, kicking me all night long. Samantha also has been waking with more frequency from bed wetting (she's not quite one hundred percent nighttime potty trained). Again, in the middle of the night, instead of waking Ella (if she's still sleeping), or bothering with the trundle bed where the sheets are stored that doesn't move quite right, into our bed she goes. Penelope does not always want to go back to sleep in her bassinet after her two a.m. feeding, so I sleep sitting up with her on the Boppy pillow.

On the nights where everyone wakes the queen size bed situation is this: Sean asleep on one side with Samantha laying on top of him or next to him, his stupid, gigantic body pillow, comfortably tucked in next to them, Ella, horizontally next to them, Tut, burrowed under the covers next to her,Penelope asleep on the Boppy, and me, sitting up, one butt cheek off the bed, steadying myself with one tiptoed leg hanging out of the bed, not sleeping.

I have one thought going through my mind over and over during these sleepless nights: teenagers do not want to sleep with their parents.

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