Nighttime Parenting

The boys are five months old now and have slept in our room since they came home from the hospital. We have a co-sleeper that used to be attached to the bed, but it was such a nuisance for me to get in and out of bed that we moved it against the wall. Generally, one or the other will wake up around 3:30 or 4:00 a.m. and I just pull him into bed with me to nurse. We both fall back asleep and when/if the next one wakes up I just switch. I always wake up with someone next to me in bed.

And I like it this way.

And OW tolerates it.

He is pushing to get the nursery finished and he thinks that once it’s finished and the cribs are moved in, the babies will move in too. I wouldn’t be completely opposed to that except that we have a first floor master. The nursery is upstairs. I’ve told him repeatedly that I have no intention of trudging upstairs, sitting in a chair to nurse, putting the baby back in the crib once I’m sure he’s asleep, going back downstairs, and repeating this two, three or more times per night. I simply won’t do it. I told him that I may start out the night in our bedroom but that once I go upstairs I stay upstairs. I don’t mind putting them in the crib to start, but after that I’ll just sleep in the guest bedroom with one or both of them next to me.

He wonders how long this arrangement will go on and I’m afraid to tell him that it could be a year or even two (possibly more?). Two year olds don’t always sleep through the night either and do I want my two year olds to come down the stairs alone at night in order to crawl into bed with us? I guess I’ll have to make those judgments as they grow and I can gauge their abilities, but I’m concerned this could go on for two or three years.

My concern isn’t whether they sleep in bed with us. My concern is that OW will not understand why it’s so important to me that I don’t stop parenting just because the sun has gone down. My first husband and I practiced complete bed-sharing with our first two – we never even had a crib – but that was really too much. I’m feeling more in the middle this time. The boys can start out in their own beds and come to us when they need to. I want them to see their room and their beds as a welcoming, comforting place to be and not a prison in which they are locked every night. I won’t leave them in there with a no-matter-what attitude. I don’t think OW wants to do that either. I think he is truly ignorant of how babies and toddlers develop.

My sister has four year old twins (I know that’s odd, but it’s a totally bizarre coincidence, since hers are dizygotic and mine are monozygotic). She had them in their own cribs in their own room right from the beginning. She went back to work full time about three months after they were born. I believe she practiced CIO but I’m not sure because I’m afraid to ask. At some point she changed the door knob on the boys’ room so that she could lock it from the outside. I was beyond horrified when my mother told me that. I swore I would never do that. She scoffed at me and said, “Oh yes you will.” Oh no I won’t. I can imagine putting a gate there. I can imagine putting a pretty tall gate there to keep wandering toddlers from toddling to unsafe places but I cannot imagine locking my children in their room.

What will our nighttime parenting look like as the boys grow? I’m not sure yet, but I hope I’ll always be respectful of both their and OW’s and my needs.

That’s my story and I’m stickin’ to it.

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Posted on September 26, 2011, in Attachment Parenting, Family, Sleep, Twins. Bookmark the permalink. 1 Comment.

  1. As a father of 8 month old twins, I know how hard it is to make these decisions. My wife and I are sleeping in separate beds with the twins in another room. We just moved from a 2 bed flat in London to a 3 bed house, thinking that it would be great to have a bed for visitors. The reality is that there’s one room for mom, one room for dad, and one room for the twins. But that’s this week.

    In those eight months, we have tried around a dozen different configurations of who sleeps where and when as the twins themselves have changed their sleeping patterns. Here is some of what I’ve learned:

    – no one thing will work for long. The twins are developing, learning, figuring out sleep, so when you “solve it,” it will change a week later. We had to be willing to improvise constantly.
    – sorry, but it doesn’t just “get better” at 6 months. That was the biggest crock that I heard from other parents
    – it gets better slowly and progressively, so slowly in fact that you don’t even notice. But it does.
    – the sooner that OW realizes that the “mother of twins is always right,” the better off he will be. If it will give you 10 minutes more sleep to stay upstairs then that’s what you need. Stick to your guns. But don’t hold it against him that he doesn’t get it. There is something magical about the bond of a twin mother and her twins, and there’s no way that a guy is going to get it.
    – don’t believe anything anyone says about CIO. You will choose it if you need it. Trust your instincts. We did out of survival, hated every minute of it, but came out the other end with happier twins.

    Good luck. We’re rooting for you.

    Mike

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