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After staring at the positive pregnancy test that announced the
impending arrival of our fourth baby in six years, my husband and I looked at
each other with only a little bit of fear in our eyes.
With our two oldest daughters already sharing a room and our 1-year-old son in the other bedroom in our home, we were starting to feel a
bit cramped. But hey, we reasoned, people used to have tons of kids in smaller
houses than ours, right?
It would be fine.
Spoiler alert, guys: It's not been fine. Not totally fine at
When the baby came along, our son had just turned 2 and
happened to be using the only crib we had. But because I enjoy sleeping
without small toddlers wandering around in the dark, we were in no hurry to
move him right away. For the first few months of her life, my daughter slept in
a play pen in our room, which worked out fine for late-night nursing sessions.
But then, it came time for transitioning. And that's where
the trouble began.
First, there's the small fact that toddlers can easily climb out of their little toddler beds. Next, there's the small fact that toddlers can easily climb out of their little toddler beds even after you return them for the 87th time in a night. Lastly, there's the small fact that toddlers can easily climb out of their little toddler beds even after you put a gate in the hallway and fall asleep next to them on the floor in a desperate attempt to get them to stay in bed.
I lived in fear of the pair of them waking each other up. ... It's not pretty, people.
After acclimating our son to his new "big boy" bed, the real work began of trying to get our daughter to sleep in her crib in the room with him. Of course, after months of sleeping in close proximity to mom and dad, she was not having it. Nope, not a chance.
For months at a time, she was waking up seven to eight times a night, screaming every time we put her down in the crib. I thought I was losing my mind. And then, when the rare miracle occurred and I was able to lay her down for a few minutes of sleep, you can probably guess what happened next, right?
My son would wake up—and the whole nightmare would start all over again.
I lived in fear of the pair of them waking each other up, so any time the baby fussed, I would practically sprint into her room to catch her before she progressed into full-blown crying that would wake my son up. He happens to be one of those people who is unbearably cranky when he's tired and half-awake, and getting him back to sleep is a complicated process involving whining, screaming and multiple flailing limbs. (It's not pretty, people).
But the result of all of that meant that my daughter literally never learned how to self-soothe. She needed me and me only to get herself back to sleep.
In my head, kids should adjust to whatever is going on in the house. In my head, room sharing for a toddler and a baby would be no big deal, where they would sleep through the other's nighttime awakenings, and I would be the type of go-with-the-flow parent who vacuums under the baby's crib while she's napping.
But in reality, room-sharing for my toddler and my baby has been really difficult. Now that my daughter is a bit older and I have finally started to give her a few minutes to fuss and put herself back to sleep, things are getting a little bit better. And, surprise, they are starting to sleep through each other's cries once in a while.