Stay Beside Me All the Night

“I want nursies,” June said. It was 8:50 and I’d been lying in her bed with her for twenty minutes, waiting for her to fall asleep. I’m letting June self-wean and we’re almost there. I’m using the “don’t offer, don’t refuse” method, which works pretty much the way you’d expect from the name. We’ve been at it almost six months now and she only asks to nurse a couple times a week, down from twice a day when we started.

While I’ve been waiting for her to wean, I’ve gotten back into the habit of staying with her until she falls asleep most nights. I used to leave her to fall asleep on her own but now if I do that she automatically asks to nurse, so we’ve taken a step backwards in the sleep independence department. I do let her fall asleep on her own after she nurses if she does nurse, though, so she hasn’t gotten completely out of the habit. Right now she seems to need one form of comfort or the other. I can’t get away without offering one.

Tonight, though, I was afraid she’d need both. It was the first night of daylight savings time and I was trying to put her to bed what seemed like an hour ahead of schedule to her. We’d planned to split the difference by putting both kids to bed a half hour early on Saturday night, but we didn’t manage it.

After she nursed, I sang “Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star” before leaving. I use the Rosemary Wells lyrics (http://bookwizard.scholastic.com/tbw/viewWorkDetail.do?workId=4444&):

Twinkle, twinkle, little star
How I wonder what you are
Up above the world so high
Like a diamond in the sky
Faithful friend with eye so bright
Stay beside me all the night
Tiny star my promise keep
Light my travels through my sleep

I left and let Beth know June was still awake. If I leave June awake and she starts crying for me, Beth goes in, fetches the pacifier if it’s gone missing, tucks her in and makes a quick exit. I was on my way to the shower when I heard her.

“Your daughter’s weeping,” I called to Beth. June’s diaper was wet so I lurked in the hallway, waiting for my turn in the bathroom while Beth changed her.

After I turned off the shower, I listened for June’s voice. I could hear her chattering away in our room, but I didn’t hear Beth. I wondered if she was in there or not. I peeked in. Beth was on our bed reading and ignoring June’s running commentary from her bed.

June still sleeps in our room. She starts the night in her own bed, and then when she wakes up she comes to our bed. Getting her to sleep the whole night in her own bed and someday maybe even sleep through the night are back-burner goals I’m hoping to give more attention once the weaning process is finished. I’m thinking it might help to move her out of our room and into Noah’s but that opens a whole other can of worms. Noah’s top bunk is littered with toys he doesn’t want June getting into and he sleeps on the bottom. He slept on the top for a couple months when he was six then decided he liked the bottom bunk better. So we’ll need to get him a new, safe place for his treasures, convince him to sleep on the top bunk and referee the inevitable extra arguments that will ensue once they are sharing a bedroom. Just thinking about it makes my head hurt.

June cheerfully observed that I was out of the shower. She asked Beth if she thought I would dry myself off and put on pajamas. Beth said she thought I would. Her prediction proved correct.

I looked at June, half-sitting up and staring at me expectantly. I sighed a little. “Do you want me to lie down with you?” I asked. She nodded.

I lay down in the toddler bed and curled myself around her. I sang the ABCs and several other songs I use as lullabies. Then I got up and left the room again. I emptied the dishwasher and then peeked back in the room. June was lying on her side, turned to the wall. I couldn’t see her face but she was breathing heavily. I was pretty sure she was asleep even though her hand was waving slowly through the air. Sometimes her body keeps going for a little while after her mind has drifted off. It was 9:55, just about her bedtime if we hadn’t changed the clocks. We hadn’t made any progress.

Like mother, like daughter: I was lying in bed awake until past eleven, trying to get to sleep. Normally I’m out by ten or ten-thirty at the latest.

June woke at 12:50. This was not unexpected as she’d been coming to bed around 11:50 the past few days. During the last half of January she was sleeping through the night about twice a week and I was pretty excited about it. In all of February, she only did in twice, but it was two nights in a row and there were a lot of close misses. She was making it to five a.m. pretty regularly for a while and I could feel the difference. I was a lot more rested when I wasn’t being awoken over and over by her flinging her limbs over mine or pulling the covers off me.

Even though she was in our bed most of the night, she stayed put (either that or she was bothering Beth instead) and I slept pretty well. I woke at 6:50. I let everyone sleep another five minutes, and then I nudged Beth. “It’s almost seven,” I told her. Our human alarm clock was still sleeping. Beth went to wake him.

Soon I could hear Beth reading to Noah from his book of pirate stories and the two of them discussing which country their imaginary van would visit that morning (it was somewhere in the former Soviet Union). Their voices must have woken June because she started to stir around 7:05. We had a long, wordless snuggle, then I read her a book a couple of times and we stumbled out of bed around 7:45. Noah has two speeds: asleep and awake, but June needs to re-enter the world slowly.

Beth was reminding Noah to wear mismatched socks for Crazy Sock Day at school and exhorting him to brush his teeth. I was slicing mango for June’s breakfast and studying the calendar to see what we had on tap this week: a fundraising dinner for June’s school at a local Mexican restaurant, Math Night at Noah’s school, an afternoon play date with the Bumblebee. Another night was over. Another Monday morning was in full swing.

  • http://exileonmomstreet.blogspot.com natasha the exile on mom street

    We’re getting ready to transition Grasshopper into a toddler bed and I’m dreading it. He has given no indication that he’s ready to leave his crib days behind him, but my back is breaking from lifting an almost 35lb kid in and out of it!

    I’m very afraid that we’ll do some backsliding in the sleep department too and I’m not sure I’m up to it…if you find the magic potion that gets them to sleep through the night all on their own IN THEIR OWN BED, please let me know!

  • http://www.mimiallme.blogspot.com Mimi

    The picture with June’s arm flung over the bed is just the cutest. I hope those sleep transitions go easily for her. Maybe she will be comforted knowing that her big brother is in the same room. We recently moved our two boys into one room together and so far, so good… they like it.

  • http://labelsareforjars.wordpress.com labelsareforjars

    The rhythm and love in this post is so touching. Thanks for sharing what seems like the mundane and yet is so fundamentally important.

  • Holly

    Wow Steph!   This comment will probably sound funny coming from me ( because I get it a lot ), but I don’t know how you do it.   The shared bed thing.  Is it mean to boast that Annabelle slept from 7:45pm – 6am last night?  Sorry, I’m not very nice.  As you well know, we have OTHER challenges.  Hang in there Mama!  Your love for your little ones is so warm.

    I like the Rosemary Wells lyrics.  So sweet!  Hadn’t heard them.  And I’m loving Noah & Beth’s van adventures!

  • http://www.lucahas2mommies.blogspot.com Dana

    I love this post. It almost makes me wish Luca was still sleeping with us. Almost. Really, though – there’s nothing like it – knowing what a comfort you are to them and watching as they drift off to dream land. I sometimes go into Luca’s room late at night and lay down next to him for awhile. Just to watch him sleep.