Any parent will tell you children and sleep are the chemical equivalent of oil and water: they don't really blend well.
We didn't start out this parenting gig thinking about sleep styles. Ittybit slept in a crib next to our bed for her first 11 months. She occupied her own room by the time she was a year-old when she attained the holy grail of milestones: Sleeping Through The Night.
Contrary to familial belief, however, we didn't look down our very long noses at folks we knew who were still sleeping (or not sleeping as the case may be) with their school-aged kids because they had adopted the Family Bed sleep style in their offspring's infancy.
We didn't eschew the idea of sleeping like puppies from the start. In fact, with Ittybit, I had hoped to sleep in the same bed at least until the round-the-clock feedings spaced out.
But it was clear quite early that she wasn't comfortable with the puppy arrangement. She fussed and fidgeted until I laid her in her own bed, where she instantly relaxed and fell into a restful sleep. Maybe it was because I didn't "room in" with her in the hospital. Who knows? Having never really babysat or changed diapers before her birth, I was afraid to be alone with her at night. It’s also possible that she just sleeps better solo. I know with my snoring soul mate I would.
The Champ’s early days were different. When he was born, three and a half years later, I wasn't petrified of motherhood or of a tiny child.
Unlike the staff that cared for his sister, the nursery staff on duty during his stay had to come and find him for weigh-ins and examinations. Usually they'd find us both sleeping, him in the crook of my arm in the hospital bed.
The sleep custom continued after we got home because of nerve pain that came with his birth. It was just too hard to get out of bed to nurse around the clock. It wasn’t much of a hardship; he was calm and comfortable, hardly moving a bit.
We were all somewhat comfortable back then, no doubt helped by my husband's insistence on getting a king-sized bed after numerous late-night visits from the sleep-master-flash herself in the months prior to The Champ's arrival.
He's been very patient, my husband, even though I know he's wishing for the day when we can clear the cribs and changing tables and plush toys from our bedroom and install a lock.
I, however, am in no rush.
I know there are days when I should have more sleep. Not only is my disposition more similar to a rabid beast without ample shuteye, having to drive upwards of 100 miles a day makes sleep deprivation a potentially dangerous condition for everyone around me, too.
But I also know that my children are small for only a little window of time. And sooner than an blink they'll be sleeping like logs and locking their own doors. ... (Well, not The Champ, poor guy, since he won't really have a door to lock. He’s been relegated [by birth order] to a closet-size cubicle that only fits a bed and dresser).
It's just that waking up before the kids do and watching them toss and turn during their sleep may indeed be the best part of my day. I can see their personalities from the first eye open: Ittybit wakes like a lion and the Champ wakes like a lamb.
There is nothing better than to watch as The Champ opens his eyes and notices his sister has crawled into beside me during the wee hours of the morning. He screams in delight and claws his way overtop of me to get to her. A little brother wake-up call.
It even makes my grumbly husband a bit misty: "Do you think they make a bigger bed than king sized?"