"No, mama, I want to sleep in my own bed", was what Marcus said when I asked him to sleep with me in my bed. Once in a while, I get tempted by the idea of cuddling my boy to sleep in MY bed, so I can smell his hair, kiss his ears, lay my hand on his tummy and sing softly into his ears while he dozes off. Occasionally, he would say yes and come join me, but would then toss and turn so much like an insomniac and eventually tell me he still want to return to his own bed. So I return him to the comforts of his own cot, to the company of his Pig, Pooky, Teddy Bear, Snake and the recently acquired Piglet which actually belongs to Nicholas.
I shouldn't complain really, and I am not. It was my intention, right from the day one that co-sleeping is not for us. I need my space and sleep and I prefer not to have my tiny bundle squashed between our two overly tired and sleep-deprived bodies. Besides I reasoned that it is better for the boys too, to have their own bed, to get used to sleeping on their own, though Marcus' cot was in my room for his first 18 months.
We finally hardened our heart and moved his cot to his own room in March last yr when he turned 18 months. I was pregnant then and decided that he should get used to sleeping in his own room long before baby arrives. It wasn't as hard as I imagined it would be. We had to leave the door open, stayed inside till he fall asleep, but we didn't have to pat him anymore after the bedtime routine. Just read a few books, kissed him and stayed next to him till he fall asleep.
Then came the night wakings. The night terrors or nightmares, some would say. Which is which, I can't say really, but it was just a tough time for him and us all. He kept waking up nightly, crying, wanting milk, cuddles, calling out to us... Though his room is just right next to us, the hassle of dragging our exhausted body out of bed was too great on some nights that we caved in sometimes. Accidental parenting, says the Baby Whisperer. First, E began to cuddle him till he fall back asleep before returning him to bed, but after a few weeks of doing so, he got tired and lazy and allowed Marcus to sleep in our bed. And the boy refused to sleep on his own, in his cot, or his room anymore. We felt sorry for him whenever we see those big fat tears streaming down his cute cheeks. So we ended up cuddling him till he fall asleep, before tiptoeing to his room and lay him in his cot. Nightly, he would wake, scream and the cycle repeats. Till sometime in August last yr, when I decided enough is enough. I was due to deliver in 8 weeks. So we adopted the Baby Whisperer's method to sleep-train him. It was heartbreaking, but worth the effort.
First night, he cried so bad, he threw up. I promptly picked him up and let him sleep with me in our bed. E was overseas then.
Second night, I took many deep breaths and was prepared for the worst. He fell asleep on his own within 20 min.
Third night. The crying stopped after 3 min and when I peeped, he was relaxed in bed, cuddling his soft toys. Peeped again later, he was fast asleep.
It took only 3 nights! I was prepared to go through it for a month. So it was a victory. Thereafter, it was a breeze to put him to bed. And the night wakings stopped. So I believe the Baby Whisperer was right! He just hasn't learnt how to fall asleep on his own, so when he did wake in middle of the night, he couldn't fall back asleep. So teaching him how to do so on his own is a valuable lesson for him.
And for us too. We romanced our pillows more nightly, till Nicholas arrived and it was chaos again. I straightened it again recently with the same sleep-training, though it doesn't always work when E puts him to bed. We take turns and when I do it, he tends to go to bed more willingly, happily and allows me to step out of his room while he is still awake. Not with E though. Perhaps it is like what Maria Montessori said in Secrets of Childhood that the child loves the adult so much that he refuses to let him out of his sight. Hmm..