When I was a little girl I used to miss my mum dreadfully. She worked full time, nights too, and I didn’t see much of her. She’d always try to be there for bedtime, rarely missed a sports day or dance show, and was a truly devoted mother, but I wanted more. I missed her. I pined for her.
I have vivid memories of regularly sneaking into her bed in the night, snuggling down next to her as quietly as I could and then going to sleep pressed against her. I remember feeling her chest move as she breathed heavily in her sleep and trying to regulate my breathing and heart beat to mirror hers perfectly.
If I had already been returned to my room once or for some reason couldn’t get in as surreptitiously as needed, I’d bring my blanket and lie down beside her bed, or curl up on the floor outside her bedroom door. I found greater comfort being in closer to my mother in an uncomfortable place than I did from being in my own bed, even though my bedroom was right next door to hers anyway.
Of course, it meant I was occasionally stepped on, often cold and unable to sleep, but it was a choice I was certain. Proximity to my mother, preferably contact with my mother, was preferable by far.
And now the same is true of Miss Rose.
Last night she crept silently into our bed, curled up at the foot of the bed and went to sleep. I don’t remember her coming, but I was vaguely aware she was there. Though as she was sleeping silently and causing me no discomfort I chose just to leave her. A bit later I was woken up properly and carried her back to bed. She clung to my arm for a bit but settled nicely. However, ten minutes later she came in on her hands and knees, shuffling as quietly as she could, barely breathing, and slid herself underneath the baby’s cot by my bed.
As we were both still awake following taking two children back to bed, we heard her, though had we been asleep we wouldn’t. We got her out and I pulled her up for a cuddle and told her she needed to go back to her own bed now, that I needed her to have a good night’s sleep and she wouldn’t if she was squished under the cot.
“But I just want to be near you,” she whispered sleepily.
I understand. I understand so much.
I needed to be as close to my mum as I could and Miss Rose needs to be as close to me as she can. Especially right now. She’s had a bad spell with panic attacks and a lot of upset we’re currently investigating to help her through, and it makes total sense she would be trying to seek the comfort of co-sleeping. She needs to feel stable, she needs to feel safe, and being close to me at night gives her that sensation. I understand it and I respect it.
I am torn. Being able to sleep in her own bed is something she needs. It’s something she’s been pretty good at too, minus the odd night of sneaking in, and there is a lot of value in her getting a full night’s sleep in her own room and waking up refreshed the next day. There is value in her not needing me in the night because she is then able to comfortably sleep at her grandparent’s houses should we need her to (such as when we were in hospital) or want her to (for the occasional nights we actually have a social life). Uninterrupted sleep is essential in so many ways for her growth and development, and whilst Baby B is so small I know I don’t have a chance of it but some day I should like such an opportunity again.
For all these reasons taking her back to her room and establishing a staying in bed routine is important.
But she needs me. For whatever reason she needs me in the night, it’s a real thing. She needs to feel close to me. I am not a mother to one girl, I am a mother to two, so even though the baby is taking the attention in the night it doesn’t mean I don’t have another daughter who is in distress and gets value, comfort and rest from being close to me. If she is quiet and settles nicely without causing disturbance, the only reason to take her back to her room is to establish a pattern that is convenient to me. If she is well rested and happier from curling up in my bed and going back to sleep, should that be the priority?
Short term comfort and reassurance, or long term routine establishment?
Do you have any advice? Any experience? Any thoughts?
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