Monday, August 21, 2006


When my children were born, we brought them home from the hospital and they all three slept in a bassinette next to our bed. Well, one at a time, of course. When I had to get up during the night to nurse or give a bottle, I would take the baby to the living room and do so in the rocking chair, returning the baby, ALWAYS returning the baby, to the bassinette. Then, after a few months, we would move the baby into a crib in their own bedroom. We NEVER brought our children into our bed, not even if they were fussy, and I was quite smug about it. Not because I believed those rumors that you might roll over on your baby and smother him or her (well, ok, I worried about that a little) but mainly because my kids always went to bed {reasonably} easy, in their own rooms, in their own cribs, then later, in their own toddler beds, and for the most part, it wasn’t a big battle. And, selfish me didn’t have to share my bed. Blaine and I bought a king-sized bed for a reason … I like my space when I’m sleeping. I have a dear friend whose daughter insisted on sleeping with him and his wife through her toddler-hood and beyond, until in desperation, he nailed a baby gate across their bedroom door so she couldn’t come in the room at night. No amount of bribery or positive (or negative) reinforcement worked for them, and I felt smug because we never had that problem. Smug because obviously? I am the perfect parent whose children put themselves to sleep in their own beds. I. Am. Fabulous.

Then, Kendrie was diagnosed with leukemia. After her initial two week stay in the hospital, I was dumbfounded to discover the nurses were going to send her home. With us! To our house! To be taken care of by two people who had no nursing skills whatsoever and whose entire worlds had just been turned upside down--- how were WE supposed to take care of a little kid with cancer??? Despite my pleading and begging, no nurse would come home with us; to tell us what to do, what medicines to give, when to give them, how to give them, and calm the panic that had overtaken us. It was like bringing home a newborn baby, only without the joy and excitement and enthusiasm.

So what was the first thing we did, in order to keep an eye on her 24/7? Bring her toddler bed into our room, of course. That smug parenting attitude of mine had gone right out the window, and I wasn't feeling so fabulous about myself anymore. I needed to be able to get up during the night -- repeatedly -- to check her for fever. So that if she cried out in pain, or had a bad dream, we could be there in an instant. So that when she was so swollen and aching from the induction phase of chemo that she couldn’t get herself to the bathroom during the night, we could pick her up and carry her. I don’t even remember how long we kept her bed in our room … a few weeks? A month? I don’t remember. Eventually we moved her back into her room, the one she shares with her brother, and bought them a bunk bed, but we struggled for a long while with her wanting back in our room. And since the toddler bed had been given away at that point, that meant she wound up in our bed. With us. A bony, knees and elbows flailing lump of child-mass right in the middle of our bed. The very thing we had always prided ourselves on avoiding.

Eventually we got her back in her own bed (around the time she started Pre-K, employing the “big girls sleep in their own bed” line of reasoning) and she would only come into our room if she had a bad dream, or thought she saw a spider (what is it with my kids and their freaky obsession slash fear of spiders?) I was feeling pretty fabulous again. But when Blaine went to Seattle this past May, she came back in my bed, and I allowed it because with Grandma in the house for several weeks, we needed the extra bed. But now? She’s like an uninvited party guest who JUST. WON’T. LEAVE!!

She’s sneaky, though. Every night we put her to bed in her own bed, and she falls asleep there. We go to bed, happily spreading out as only king-size mattress people can do. Then, sometime during the night, Kendrie slinks into our bed, like a cat burglar. Quietly, stealthily. I don’t even realize it until her elbow hits me across the nose, or I get a fist in the side of my head, or a knee in the kidney. Because she doesn’t share Blaine’s side of the bed, oh, no. HE still gets an entire half of the bed, but I’m left sharing my half with her. And you know what? HAVING FUN! I'M NOT!!!

I sleep the whole night in the same position, facing the wall, balanced precariously on the edge of the bed, with my back to her, to avoid being poked in the eye or having my windpipe crushed when she flings an arm out. Of course, she spends the wee hours of the morning poking me in the back, but at least those bruises can be hidden from the public eye. I can’t roll over, or move my pillow to get more comfortable. Heaven forbid I try to claim my fair share of the covers. It’s like a really uncomfortable twin-bed slumber party and I wake up, NOT feeling rested or refreshed.

Then the kicker was Saturday night. She knocked a tooth out on Saturday (don’t ask) and where did the tooth go that night? Under MY pillow! She didn’t even PRETEND she would be in her own bed, it went straight under my pillow. So not only did I sleep poorly that night, avoiding her elbows and knees and hugging my edge of the mattress, but I had to be careful not to stick my hand under the pillow and accidentally knock her tooth or the subsequent dollar out of the way.

About 5am, I realized how ridiculous it was and just got up. But then I was very cranky because it was SUNDAY, and thanks to my daughter, I was up at 5am. So I told Blaine, “That’s it. Tonight, I don’t care what time it is or how tired you are, I’m waking your ass up and you’re going to put her back in her own bed!” because why should I be the only one suffering? Maybe if I make him suffer the consequences as well, he’ll be a little more vested in fixing the problem. (The truth? I’m just too lazy to carry her back to bed so I came up with the whole “vested” argument to justify waking him up.)


UPDATE: I wrote the above portion of this journal entry on Sunday afternoon, anticipating a total meltdown Sunday night when we kicked her out of our bed. This is what actually happened:

I’ll be damned if she didn’t sleep through the night in her own bed last night. The first time in over three months. I was so startled that I woke up at 5am, reflexively flinching to avoid her elbow, only to realize she wasn’t there, and then I couldn’t go back to sleep! But for six glorious hours I had my pillow and my blanket to myself ………. Ahhhhhhhh, heaven!

Obviously, just writing about the problem, actually putting pen to paper (er, fingers to keyboard) solved it. Right? Say it out loud, and the problem disappears?? So, in that vein, be on the lookout for journal entries on the following topics, which I hope will then solve themselves as well:





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