Wednesday, July 13, 2005

Sleepy Babies and Other Adventures in the Night

How come for every night of relative peace, quiet, and actual slumber, you always get two or three filled with crazed child-monsters who crowd, kick, and pee on you?

Overall, I am a big fan of the Family Bed concept. We have used it with all three kids to all of our convenience and comfort. But the bottom line is: even with all the benefits of family bed-dom, they still wake you at night with needs.

Gabe's needs are frequently potty related. The kid wakes and whimpers and thrashes around fitfully until finally he wakes himself enough to realize that he needs to pee. He is too sleepy and pitiful to walk downstairs himself to find the bathroom in the dark and usually request that you not only wake-up from your well earned slumber but that you also carry him down the stairs and all but direct his urine for him. Then you must carry him back up the stairs and tuck him in...for the 3rd time that night. Even after peeing just before bed at 10:05 pm, and waking me to pee at 1:27 am, he still peed in my bed at 7:30 this morning. (But at least now all the bedding is clean. With everything on my plate, sometimes it takes a puddle of steaming urine to push sheets up above work clothes and underwear on my laundry list.) I don't know where the little camel stores all this excessive urine, but I hope his talent pays out someday. Also in Gabe's favor: he'd the one who likes to sleep in.

Quinlan on the other hand, while she doesn't wake as often as Gabe, has great need when the time comes. You can't just stumble down the stairs once or twice and call it a night. When she needs nighttime love, it usually involves copious itching (she has crazy allergies) or even; vomit patrol! Quinny's nighttime interruptions are usually followed by a soothing bath and dates with the washing machine in the basement. And I should note, it is amazing how, even in the dark, a vomiting child will always manage to vomit right on your head. So, you always need extensive clean up as well.

Quinlan also has an inbred nighttime talent for kicking, usually directed to the crotch. While I find it merely irritating, Brian finds this unbearable and now instinctively sleeps with his hands clutched around his balls. She doesn't wake up, be she sure can wake you up in a right smart hurry with a roundabout to the family jewels, I am told.

And come 7:00 am, Quin will be awake, whispering in my ear, "Hi Mama! I's hungry!" It doesn't matter if she went to bed at 9:00 or 12:00, she will be ready to rumble at 7:00 am. It also doesn't matter if you went to bed when the kids did or stumbled in at 2 in the morning after a night of kareoke stardom. Sometimes kareoke singing rockstar mamas have to drink coffee at 7 in the morning while trying to tune out Dora the Explorer in order to allow the other two children to sleep enough that they will not spontaneously combust into crabbiness. These rockstar mamas need mochas but are on weight watchers and must settle for very black coffee with a teaspoon of sugar. It makes them awake, but more crabby and less rockstar-like.

Ribh has no true nasty habits but she is a nursling. I couldn't honestly tell you how often she nurses in the night because thankfully, one of the awesome benefits of sleeping with your baby is based on the concept of sleep cycling. This means that she and I both rise to the top (wakeful part) of our sleep cycle at the same time. She rustles about a little, I roll over and hook her up, she nurses, and I fall back asleep within minutes. This also means that she doesn't cry or fuss or wake me from a deep sleep ever, the way the big kids can. I don't lose any quality sleep during her nursing and I never wake to worry or check on her. But she sleeps pressed against me like a leech and occasional reaches out to pinch my nipple in her sleep. Lovely.

And now, while Brian is gone and I am the single mama, the ultimate problem arises. This single mama has three children, but only two sides. Peevers obviously wins the snuggle lottery since she is the nursling. I put each of the other two to sleep in their own "nests" on the floor on either side of my bed and wait to see which will weasel up into my area during the night. By 6:30 am I typically have Peevers under my armpit, another pressed against my back and the third pinned at armslength to protect Peevers from her sibling's thrashing.

So, when Quin whispers, "Mama, I's want go downstairs and watch Dora now?" I don't even fight it. Time to get up! I've got blogging to do!


Notyetfamousartist said...

my sister talks about all that stuff with her kids. I agree the family bed can be nice. but dont let it detract from your personal time, or your private time with your husband. at one time or another kids must sleep in their own bed.
( i watch too much nanny 911...)

hubby said...

right now, it's been so long since i've seen peapod and little bear, i'd give anything to snuggle with them and be able to bond with them like that, even if it does potentially mean i may get kicked in the crotch. somebody please buy our house and practice....i need my family :(

and yes the above poster does watch too much nanny 911, and apparently doesn't have kids to understand the kind of relationships that co-sleeping builds, it ties the entire family closer together, and in my opinion builds stronger intimacy between parents. one of those "unless you experience it, ya can't completely understand or explain it"

my 2 cents...

Mar said...

Poor hubby. You are right. This post wasn't about how the family bed makes night-time difficult. In fact, I think it help with all these nighttime waking problem. They wake less when they sleep near us and it is easiler to quickly meet their needs and get back to sleep.

They do have beds of their own, but we don't make them sleep there very much. The family bed works for us. I just wanted to clarify.

And yes, we still have "private time" (and hence three children) as well as high level of intimacy and connection as spouses and partners.

Nanny 911 can be useful for some, and not the answer for others. I am not worried that my child will refuse to go to college (or even on sleepovers) because s/he cannot sleep without mama there.

So! For those who love the Family bed: So do we!

For those who think it's freaky or will ruin a marriage or cause kids to be too dependant or whatever, you get to choose not to when you have kids someday.

I don't even mean this meanly. Really. I just needed to clarify.