Monday, January 13, 2014

Sleep, Little Ones, Sleep

My little ones are generally good sleepers. Lights generally go off at 7.30 - 8 or 8.30 in the holidays - and they sleep until 6.30 or 7.30.
The catch is that they're both still in our bed.
And they are not quiet sleepers. My Poppet giggles and talks and even sings and dances in her sleep. If I get up to go to the toilet, or write in another room, I'll hear her plaintive 'Mama? Mama?' within minutes.
My Sprocket likes to sleep with an arm sprawled around someone's neck, a leg hooked over someone, just to ensure they'll stay put. He also has a preference for sleeping horizontally. My beloved and I may get eleven or twelve hours sleep (if we choose) but those hours are crammed into a very small space and often involve having an elbow jammed in our neck and a knee in our tummy.
It started out innocently enough, when Sprocket was a baby. He slept in his own cot until he was about three months old. At three months, he decided this was a travesty.
As we were living in the tropics at the time, I just shrugged. We got rid of the bed, I got rid of my pillow, we stuck with  a single sheet for covering, and Sprocket came into our bed. I figured without pillows, blankets, and with no major fall from the mattress to the floor, he'd be as safe as possible from SIDS. If he wanted to feed through the night I was fine with that - I was getting two long sleeps/reads during the day while he sleep-nursed and hardly woke for his night-feeding.
I was fine with it, but my Beloved talked to workmates, who shrugged when he worried about our nearly one year old in bed with us. It turned out they both still had their youngest kids in their bed who were four and five. As they were the head of vector control in the country and the World Health Organisation representative, we figured if it was okay for them, it was okay for us. Of course, in a developing country where most houses only have a couple of rooms, we were the norm.
Poppet stayed in her own cot until she was about two. Albeit, when she was about six months old we took the side of her cot down, and pushed it up against our bed, so although after each feed I'd put her back in her cot, she could easily crawl across to me when I woke, and I could reach out and check on her through the night. In the cooler weather of Victoria, we both rugged up, and again, made sure there were no pillows or quilts that might be a suffocation risk.
When we decided to move the little ones into their own room, and moved her cot through, we thought we would have all the space in the world. Not so. There was more space in our room without the cot on one side of our bed and Sprocket's little bed on the other, but neither kid had any intention of sleeping so far away. Winter came, it was cold. It seemed cruel to have them on their own in the freezing, uninsulated old house. And somehow, things stayed like that. It just seemed easier to put up with a bit of contorting, to know they were warm, and safe and Sprocket wasn't burning the house down in another room. And well, they were great little hot water bottles.
Now my Sprocket is getting older, and my tummy is getting bigger, it's obviously time for a change.
Up here, at their Nana and Grandpa's they have new bunk beds, beautifully decked in new linen. Every night I clamber up and read stories in the top bunk with my Sprocket, and explain again why they can't be in our bed (Sprocket finds this very perplexing, Poppet just accepts it). At close of stories, Poppet gets down, turns out the lights, gets into her own bed and we all listen to a very soft, Dreamland lullaby cd while the little ones fall asleep, and the Littlest one in my tummy awakes and kicks and summersaults. Breathing deepens, we can just hear the cicadas outside. For a little we talk about our day. And after a couple of false starts, I dispatch myself from my sleeping child, and lumber down the bunk ladder. Leaving my little ones asleep I waddle through to sprawl in a massive- seeming bed.
It. Is. Amazing. How much space there is. It goes to my head and I stay up way too late doing stuff that's just procrastinating while I enjoy stretching out.
Well before the sun rises our little ones start sleepily padding through to our bed. But that's okay. Baby steps. Poppet often sleeps the night through in her own bed. Sprocket… not so much. We're getting there.
As I write now, in the dark bedroom, at seven am, both kids have already come through, and lie on either side of me. Poppet is stretching into wakefulness, her gold curl in glorious disaray. She snuffles, yawns, tells me of her dream, pulls one of my arms around herself, threads her warm fingers through my own.
We're getting there.
For memories sake, I write this down. Sleep, lack of sleep is such a big part of our lives. I've spent so many hours writing in the dark in the early hours of the morning, a kid sleeping to either side of me. I want to remember, even while we move on to the next step.
My Beloved has already decreed Littlest, the wee one presently growing in my tummy, is never sleeping in our bed.
We'll see. 

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