Monday, 17 November 2008

Operation Big Boy Bed (the prelude)

In all our sleep woes over the last year and a bit, one thing is for certain. T Does Not Like his cot. He slept on my chest when he was tiny, graduating to the carrycot from the pram beside my bed, my hand draped over the side next to him as if languishing in the water on a summer boat ride. When he outgrew the carrycot he moved to a rocking crib, an ebay bargain, at the end of our bed. He would raise his head, pulling up his neck just far enough to see over the duvet mountain that Mummy and Daddy are still there, then go to sleep.

He spent time in his cot, in his own room, from being tiny though. From about three months I could be guaranteed a shower if I laid him on his back with leg kicking room and put on the classical Tiny Love mobile. He would watch the spinning cow, horse and goat with their clacking beads and airily wave his hands towards them for the 15 minutes of music, a perfect period of respite for a still very new Mum.

I wanted to move T to his own room only when he was sleeping through the night. Still exclusively breastfed, we thought weaning would help, but he ate little to start and barely any more by 7 months when, upon noticing he could pull himself up to standing, despite the fact he was still waking twice a night, the crib had to go. So into the cot he went, and it wasn't exactly a smooth transition. Despite me feeding him to sleep more often than not, and standing by his side, arm stretched uncomfortably over the bars, rubbing his back, he never liked sleeping in there, and would stand the instant he woke, bouncing up and down and screaming for Mummy and Daddy to rescue him. All manner of nightlights, leaving the door open, and nursery rhyme CDs didn't help, and he began to whimper the minute I put him in the cot with a book during the day to, for example, nip to the loo or run up to the attic with a load of washing.

By the time I returned to work he was waking up to four times a night again and taking more than an hour to settle each time. I sat on the nursing chair in his room, T pinned to my chest, waiting for him to reach that floppy-limbed sleep stage which meant he wouldn't wake up on transfer from Mummy to mattress. One night I fell asleep where I sat, catching myself mid commando-roll to the floor, and, certain this couldn't continue, we bought a bedguard and began to co-sleep.

I've written quite a bit about co-sleeping. I do love it, honestly. What's not to love about your first born snuggling into you night after night so you can sniff his soft velvety head and watch the rise and fall of his chest as he breathes and sighs with dreams? But I'd be lying if I said there weren't times I'd just love a bit of time on my own with my husband. We were all in the vicious cycle of waking each other too. Me with a hacking cough which has taken weeks to clear, my husband with his 4 am alarm call to the early shift and middle of the night work calls that needed his verdict or expertise. I wasn't sure that, given a little time and space, T might sleep a whole lot better.

The cot was a non starter though, so, after two weeks of night weaning, T now only feeding first and last thing on my work days, more when I'm at home, last night it was time for Operation Big Boy Bed.

More on how it went tomorrow.

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