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“I no care for dat. I want dat bed.” Sugarplum’s small voice chokes back a sob in my ear as her tiny finger unfurls from my hair and points behind her towards the open doorway. Looking down at her lanky 2 year old body that clings to me like all good baby monkeys do, I’m surprised by the calm in her statement. I pause and give her a quick squeeze. “It’s ok, remember what we talked about, this is your big girl crib. Your sisters want you to sleep in here with them. Look- at all your lovies and babies- they’re waiting for you.”
“No lovey. No baby.“ Her voice edges towards anger as I hold her soft unicorn blanket up to my face to tempt her into a snuggle. “No nocorn.” I grin at her funny little word for unicorn as she starts to bat it away from my face. Peeling her off my chest, her protests ratchet up a notch so I pull her back to me and ask if she wants to neh-neh a little more. Hugging her agreement into me I grab a handful of her babies (her word for blankets) into our arms and head back into our room. I hear her whisper, “My bed” as we pass the pack and play she’s slept in all her small life and settle back on my mattress. Separation hasn’t come easily for any of us and this autumn is the start of many new ones. I find myself clinging to these strawberry headed girls even as I try to hide my frowns so that they will follow their own leads rather than mine.
Zuzu was a cosleeper from the beginning. She preferred to be held at all times of the day and only acquiesced into separate sleep on the condition of a perpetually rocking swing or a tight swaddle into the Snugglenest between her dad and I with one of our fingers available for her suckle at any given moment. She was moved into her own big-girl bed at 24 months but continued to inch her way back into our room as often as she could finagle it. As long as she started out in her own bed, we typically gave into her nighttime searchings as it rendered better sleep for all of us. As my belly grew with the Quail’s impending presence things got much tighter in our queen sized bed though, and little by little Zuzu gave into the idea of sleeping in her own bed. That is until the Quail arrived home from the hospital. Then the sad doe-eyes bore into my heart and I invited her back in between us as the Quail wiggle-wormed her way night after night down from the Snugglenest dangerously close to our tangle of blankets. Despite the finger waggling of the pile of sleep-training books I kept on my nightstand, an Arms-Reach sidecar for her and the pillow between Mom & Dad for Zuzu became the regular arrangement. When both girls were eventually herded back into their very own toy and book filled, lovingly adorned bedroom they had each other and the Quail, unlike her sister kicked with glee at the sight of the crib.
When Sugarplum came home from the hospital we had all our options open waiting to see how best she would sleep. Luckily, she went down easily enough between us. When we realized that she wasn’t going to require movement or holding to nod off to dreamland we moved her over into the co-sleeper and breathed a sigh of relief. As she outgrew the co-sleeper and continued to sleep easily enough we set her down each night in the pack and play in our room, vowing to think longer term sooner rather than later. The girl’s made their way into their own co-sleeping arrangement and seemed content enough with it until the last few months. As company came and their double bed was offered up they started to enjoy not sharing their bed and both privately asked for separate beds. When company left and they were told to return to their own bed, the Quail chortled on about sleeping in the office on her own. When we spent a weekend away in a cabin with bunkbeds the girls gleefully claimed their up-down places and only grumblingly returned to a shared bed at home. So the hunt for bunkbeds for them is officially on. While we still need them to share a room for the time being, separate beds seem to be the mutual consensus.
At the beginning of the summer Lovey and I talked about moving Sugarplum in to the girls room and the gently used crib. Neither of us were in any rush to have her not sleep in our room and instead I followed her lead in not nursing the moment we got home from our days apart. That need for the immediate connection after being apart from me has definitely lessened as she chooses to bound after her sisters while they tear through the house. Summer has passed and with the beginning of the school year approaching and the need for earlier bedtimes in preparation for the thinking mornings, I’m grateful that she doesn’t feel the need to nurse- well to be truthful, equal parts grateful and groaning. That 20-30 minutes of time to just lay down and not think, or do, or prepare, or anything is something that I hate giving up. Both for the connection and the restfulness of that hit of soothing hormones at the end of my day.
That first night Sugarplum protested but quickly relented. She doesn’t ask for her other bed now a week plus into the transition. Her feelings are still mixed about sleeping away from us though and she does protest at the separation from nursing to the girl’s room at nap time. For some reason bedtime is acceptable. I’ve yet to pack up the pack and play. I’ll probably hold out until she actually calls the crib, “My bed”. It’s hard to let go- even into the next room over. It’s hard to begin again.