If I kept a running tally of the questions I’ve been asked about Miss P since her birth, the two most prominent would be: How is she sleeping? or Does she sleep though the night? I’m not really sure why this topic generates so much outside interest, but, for the record, the answers have pretty much always been great and yes, mostly. That being said, the sleeping situation in this house has still been upside down for quite some time now.
When Poet was a newborn, she slept in our Pack n’ Play’s bassinet attachment. By the time she was six weeks old, she was moving around so much that I was scared to let her continue sleeping this way, but we weren’t ready to transition her into her own room yet. We decided she’d continue sleeping at the foot of our bed in the play yard, sans bassinet. Tim removed the attachment, and my parents were appointed the task of finding sheets.
On the first night of this arrangement, I was excited as I set a peacefully sleeping Miss P on the mattress.
“Look how sweet.” I said to Tim, and we both hovered over the Pack n’ Play, smiling in silent observation.
The mattress was flat, unlike the surface of the bassinet she’d been sleeping in since birth, and it allowed her the space to stretch her quickly growing limbs out. Even so, she was on her back with her legs in the fetal position, her knees suspended in the air as if the bassinet was still cradling them.
Just as Tim and I settled into bed there was a thunk, which caused us both to jump up. In an instant, we were back in front of the Pack n’ Play. We took turns looking at Poet, then at each other, then down again. We watched as she pulled her legs into the air, extending them straight out, only for them to come crashing down onto the mattress a couple of seconds later. Each time her heels hit the mattress, her arms flailed at her sides and her head jerked in alarm.
It only took a few more rounds of this before Miss P was wide-awake and staring up at us in confusion.
I nursed her back to sleep while Tim snapped the bassinet into the frame of the play yard. When she was, once again, sleeping peacefully, I lowered her into the bassinet. I spent the rest of the night checking on her every five minutes to make sure she was safe.
The next several nights brought more of the same. Tim removed the bassinet attachment, I gently laid her down, she flailed around on the mattress until she woke herself up, then I nursed her back to sleep while Tim reattached the bassinet.
“I have an idea,” I said at the end of the week. “Let’s bring the Pack n’ Play downstairs so she can play in there during the day and get used to being on a flat surface.”
“And you think that’s going to work?” Tim was skeptical.
“I do. I really do.”
In reality, I was only sure of two things:
1) I really needed to get some sleep.
2) That wasn’t going to happen with Poet sleeping in the bassinet.
We started with a window of play time each morning, then began incorporating naps, as well. By the end of the second week, Poet was sleeping on the flat mattress throughout most of the night, and I was sleeping on the couch beside her. She usually woke up around 4 am to eat, at which point I brought her on the couch with me. When she finished eating, she slept in the crook of my arm until Tim woke up for work at 5 am. The hour she was in my arms was always the best sleep I’d gotten since she was born.
Once our sleeping routine was established, we moved the Pack n’ Play back into our bedroom. I was more excited and optimistic than I’d been the first time we tried this, and I silently cheered as I laid a peacefully sleeping Miss P down then tiptoed to bed, where Tim had already been asleep for over an hour.
Within minutes there was a thump. I closed my eyes.
This is going to work, I repeated in my head. She’d been sleeping on the flat mattress for over a week now. What difference did it make what room she was in?
Thump. Thud. Thump.
I jumped up and looked into the Pack n’ Play. Two eyes stared curiously back at me. Miss P was wide awake.
“What’s wrong?” said Tim. He rubbed his eyes.
We sat at the end of the bed peering into the Pack n’ Play. Poet kicked the mattress and yelled. When she didn’t stop, I scooped her up and comforted her while Tim folded the play yard and brought it back downstairs. Thus ensued our previous sleeping arrangements.
Over the past couple months, Tim’s lugged the Pack n’ Play up and down the stairs at least ten times. The last time he moved it, he said, This is it! I’m not moving this thing one more time, and, so, it’s been downstairs ever since, and I’ve been sleeping on the couch with the Boppy.
Last weekend, I decided I couldn’t possibly go on like this. Our solution? Tim moved Poet’s crib from her nursery into our bedroom.
This was her upon waking up on her first morning in Mommy and Daddy’s room:
We had exactly two nights like this. That’s right TWO, and not because of Poet; she slept great. This time I was awake because of our chihuahua, Brooklyn. Brooklyn likes to pee on the carpet, so he sleeps in a crate in our room at night. He usually plops into his mound of blankets and goes right to sleep, but he decided to spend this particular night whimpering, barking and scratching at the bars on the crate.
To prevent Brooklyn from waking Poet with his antics, I let him out of the crate and gave him free rein downstairs. What did he do with his freedom? He spent it pawing at the bottom step and whimpering, while I sat in bed listening to the ruckus he was creating and wondering how I could possibly be the only one awake though all of this.
Eventually, his whimpers escalated into yelps and before I knew it, Miss P was back in the Pack n’ Play, and I was on the couch with Brooklyn panting, shaking and cowering above me.
This was a week ago. Since then, I’ve made one more attempt to sleep upstairs, which came to an abrupt end when Miss P rolled over and got her leg wedged between the crib’s slats. (We decided to forgo a padded bumper after reading countless articles all declaring them to be a safety concern.) Operation Sleep in My Bed is now on hold until we get a mesh bumper for Poet’s crib. I certainly don’t want her to suffocate on a padded bumper, but I don’t want her little arms and legs getting caught in the slats, either.
Until then, the couch remains my home. Hey, it’s comfortable.
In other news, sometime over the past few weeks this started happening:
Last week, I set Miss P on her back on her play gym and took two steps to the kitchen to pour myself a glass of water. I looked up a moment later, and she was on her belly pushing herself up. She looked at me, a huge grin on her face. I can’t believe how quickly she’s growing and changing.
She started rolling from her back onto her belly just before the three-month mark. In these early attempts, she usually made it over, but one arm always got stuck underneath her. This made her so upset she would scream in protest until someone either flipped her back over, or freed her trapped arm.
Now she’s a pro! Every time I set her on her back, she rolls, almost effortlessly, onto her belly and looks around at all the things she couldn’t see before. She’ll stay like this for several minutes, then she’ll briefly lay her head down before, once again, pushing herself up. Eventually she’ll get upset in this position, and since she can’t yet roll from her belly to her back, she needs a little help flipping over.
Over the past week, she’s been rolling onto her belly in her sleep and planting her face right into the mattress, so I’m back to the days of jumping up to check on her every five minutes.
At least nap-time’s a go!