The Big Bed

We co-slept with both of our kids until they decided they were each ready to move out into their own room. Now most evenings Pete and I enjoy having our own bed to stretch out in. That space feels luxurious to us these days. By morning we are sometimes still two, often three, and occasionally four (or even just one), depending on what – if any – night-time parenting was required before sunrise. There is flex and flow in our sleeping world.

Last night Sage decided to fall asleep in the “Big Bed.” (The Big Bed is Pete’s and my bed. We casually decided not to call it “our” bed because all of us are welcome there and we want the kids to know that just because they have their own rooms doesn’t mean that aren’t welcome in ours.) When I crawled in to go to sleep, there was my little boy, all legs and arms sprawled out across the covers.

In the darkness I snuggled in beside him and was stunned by how far his legs reached out from his torso; how grown-up the tempo of his breathing; how Big he has become. In that moment I traveled in time to a yellow house in Baraboo to a tiny boy just hours old (born one floor below) asleep beside me in the moonlight. That night my eyes were wide-open and awe-filled as I watched this tiny person sleep. Perfection in physical form. Smiles flickering across his baby face, eyes darting beneath sleeping lids.

As those early weeks and months of parenthood unfolded, night was not the sanctuary of peace I had anticipated. Sleep was broken and tears were shed nightly by one or more of us. It was hard. Harder than anything I had imagined. But I held him and danced him and nursed him and did countless deep-knee-bends throughout the night. And he would fall back to sleep, over and over and each morning we would wake together and begin our day.

He was so small. So open. So dialed in to my every vibration and emotion and to those of our house, our community, our planet. I know – heavy, right? But Sage is a tapped-in child. And he feels everything. So many of the children being born today are. And because of that I saw no other option than to keep him by my side, close and safe. His crib down the hall stayed empty and unused until we packed it up and gave it back to its original owner. He told me (as best as he could) to keep him close. So I did.

All babies wake at night.

As parents how we respond to these wakings (or don’t) determines if our babies will trust us to be present for them in the night. Our action or inaction determines if they will continue to reach out to us when they are in need. If they do not trust us to respond, it may not be that they are “sleeping through the night” – they just do not know how to ask us to help them.

I chose to have both of my kids know that I was there and I was their mama, no matter what the clock said.

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And now? He sleeps. She sleeps. We all sleep. For those of you who read this through bleary sleep-deprived eyes, up throughout the long, tear-filled nights, know that this too shall pass. Hold them and kiss them and nurse them and comfort them. And then – like magic – one day you’ll wake to discover that it’s morning and you’ve done nothing but sleep since you laid your head down in the sweet darkness.

And while you won’t likely miss all of those wakings, you might just miss the sight of their tiny perfectness lying in the moonlight beside you, peacefully dreaming.

Photo Credits: Author

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Rachel Wolf lives in rural Wisconsin with her husband and two unschooled children. She owns LüSa Organics, a mindful body care company focused on products for babies and children. She also writes the natural lifestyle blog Clean. Rachel spends her days living her bliss in a swirling cloud of living-, playing- mothering-, homeschooling-, writing-, crafting- and work-at-home-mama chaos. Visit her blog at www.lusaorganics.typepad.com.

6 Responses to The Big Bed

  1. Jenn @ Monkey Butt Junction  

    Our son “cosleeps on demand” – always at his option. It is an arrangement we’ve had since he was born, and I wouldn’t change a thing. While we always coslept during those early newborn days, as he was bigger we moved him to his own bed. If he woke and called for us, we’d bring him by us. Some nights he would, other nights he wouldn’t. As he gets bigger, he spends more time in his own bed than ever before, and I miss having him with us.

    On Sunday night this week he chose us around 3a.m., and we played games of peek a boo under the covers, “where’s my nose” and we spoke to each other in soft whispers until 4. We lost some sleep, sure, but now that he’s almost 2 I know that the nights he’ll choose our bed over his own will become few and few until eventually my big boy won’t sleep by us again. I’ll gladly sacrifice some sleep right now.

    Oh, and hello, fellow Wisconsin blogger! You live in one of my most favorite small towns.

  2. Momma Jorje

    So beautifully said! Another amazing thing about having them stretch out beside you is getting this sudden, different and shocking reminder of just how very far they do stretch.

    Our Sasha has coslept with us since Day 1. In recent months, we’ve transitioned her to a crib mattress right next to our own bed. She still winds up in our bed by morning more often than not. Sometimes she asks and sometimes it is just more convenient.

    I love the idea of our bed being available to our children. I remember having nightmares as a kid and being afraid to wake my parents. How sad is that?

  3. Melissa  

    This is so perfectly stated. Thank you for the smiles! I do read through sleepy eyes, but they’re not as sleepy as they once were. Many nights I am shocked by how little I am needed, and by how large in the bed is my sleeping companion. I know our nights together are numbered, and it helps to remember this on the difficult ones.

  4. Gillian

    Love this and couldn’t have written it any better myself. It’s all so very true. I never thought I would be the parent I am, but I wouldn’t change it for anything. Cosleeping for us began out of necessity (for sleep!) and was a no-brainer with the second. I always think to myself it will go so fast and like everything, is temporary. Friends comment on my 14 month old that still nurses 2 or 3 times at night, saying ‘she has the life’ or some such comment, and I just smile and nod. It works for us, and most importantly, for her!

  5. Mama Mo @ Attached at the Nip

    Thank you for the gentle reminder. I know someday I will sleep well again… it’s a someday I look forward to. Right now both my twin boys awaken at night to nurse. One’s in the big bed with us, one’s on a mattress right next to us. But we all wake up curled close together. I love your line “I chose to have both of my kids know that I was there and I was their mama, no matter what the clock said.” I choose that, too.

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