Thursday, May 10, 2012

Family Bed


I am thoroughly convinced that acknowledging that your children appear to be sleeping well is the fastest way to jinx the process. I told a friend a couple of weeks ago that Tegegn and Tiruye were sleeping through the night and then that very evening, for the first time ever, Tiruye got up at 2 a.m. and refused to go back to sleep. So I am NOT here to tell you that our new kiddos are much better sleepers than their older siblings were right after they were adopted. 

When we were preparing to be parents for the first time, I read a lot about sleep and was convinced that A) Any idiot should be able to get their kids to go to sleep if they just follow the steps from the parenting books. B) I would get up joyfully with my children whenever they awoke in the middle of the night because I would just be so, so, so grateful to be a parent that I wouldn't mind waking up. C) We would never "resort" to sleep training our adopted children because the experts warned that it could affect bonding. Time and experience have shown me how naive I was and I now believe that while some strategies may help most kids, every child is different and what works for some families may not work for others. Also, I now firmly believe that a chronically tired, stressed parent is probably a lot worse for the family than almost any sleep strategy you could try.

If you have been in our lives for several years, you probably know that Atticus and Norah's terrible sleep habits were easily the biggest problem we faced when they came home. It was awful and I want to cry just thinking about how tired we were. We tried everything - white noise, silence, blackout shades, nightlights,  co-sleeping in our queen bed, having the kids' cribs in our room, having their cribs in a separate room, separating the kids into different bedrooms, sleeping with them with one parent in each room, music, baths before bedtime, no naps, extra naps, swimming to tire them out, earlier bedtime, later bedtime... It was not pretty. Norah's sleep did eventually attain a manageable pattern once she was in her own room, but with Atticus we ended up needing to sleep train him and later added melatonin to our bedtime regimen.

This time around, we tried something new and put our own queen mattress on the floor with a twin mattress on either side of it - essentially creating a wall-to-wall bed that nobody can fall off of. Even though Atticus and Norah often wake up in the middle of the night and join us, it still is a very handy arrangement. Tegegn and Tiruye are both wigglers and change positions all over the family bed throughout the course of the night, but we still manage to get a decent night's sleep most of the time. Each night we read books with all four kiddos in our bed, tuck Atticus and Norah into their own beds in their own room, and then we lie down with Tegegn and Tiruye in the family bed until they fall asleep. We then creep downstairs for a couple of hours of adult time before returning to bed ourselves, with me armed with my Kindle and a book light because I can't fall asleep without reading in bed each night.

Part of me will be delighted to have our bedroom back to ourselves. Sharing a bed with only one other person is starting to seem like a luxury. For  right now though, this arrangement seems to be working really well for us, I love having the extra snuggle time with my babies throughout the night, and it seems to make the kiddos feel safe and secure.

1 comment:

Jane said...

I am loving all your updates!m can't wait to meet the two littles!