Friday, August 9, 2013

Parenthood: Week 11 – Sleeping In The Nursey

"Buffy, I need you to do something for us tonight. We are going to have Ollie sleep in his own room for the first time and if you could stay in his room and keep him company it would mean a lot to me and Diana. Can you do this for us?"
Buffy looked up at me calmly as I sat on the floor asking for her help. I gently directed her into Ollie’s room and watched her curl up in the corner of the room where I had set up one of Buffy’s beds.

I left the door open to Ollie’s room so we could hear him if he woke up. This gave Buffy access to our bedroom where she usually slept as well as the guest bedroom which had a queen sized bed that Buffy had recently taken over as her own.

The next morning as I walked into the nursery, there was Buffy, awake in her bed in the corner of the room. I was surprised. Buffy had never spent a night in that room, so I expected to find her splayed out on the guest room bed or in our bedroom. Before tending to Ollie, I bent down, gave her a kiss on the forehead and said “Thank you.”

We didn’t have room for a full sized crib in our one bedroom condo. So, for the first month of Ollie’s life, he slept in a mini-crib in our bedroom. We moved when Ollie was about a month old. The new house had a bedroom for Ollie, so we ordered a full sized crib.

The crib took some time to be delivered so Ollie continued to sleep in our bedroom, with Buffy nearby and Diana and I in our queen sized bed (which I explained in this post). After the crib came, we had Ollie sleep in the crib in his room for naps but we had gotten used to Ollie sleeping in our room during the night so we continued to do this.

I was ready to have Ollie sleep in his room pretty soon after we got the crib but Diana told me that she didn’t feel like she was ready. I know this may sound silly to you. Our room is next door to Ollie’s room and Diana was going in there during the night to nurse Ollie anyways, so why not have him sleep in that room?

Just because an emotion isn’t logical, doesn’t mean that it’s not valid or important to honor. It wasn’t a big deal that Ollie slept in our room so why not give Diana the time to work through this step?

Earlier this week, Diana told me she was ready to have Ollie sleep in his room. So one night last week we got him settled in his big boy crib crib, asked Buffy to sleep in his room with him to keep him company and set-up the baby monitor by Diana’s bedstand.

Diana woke up multiple times to check the monitor, finding every single time an image of Ollie’s body lying still in his crib. It was a rough night for Diana. I slept fine. However, I was the guy who for the first two nights Ollie was home, got up almost every fifteen minutes to check to see if he was still breathing.

Like my “oh my god, is he still breathing?!?” concerns faded, Diana’s anxiety about Ollie sleeping in his room has faded as well.

For me, this was a moment when Buffy really came through. There is something comforting about sleeping in a room and feeling the presences of someone who loves you sleeping nearby. I just couldn’t have Ollie not have that his first night in his room. I wasn’t going to force Buffy to do this, but I really wanted her to. She came through and that morning seeing her in Ollie’s room made me feel so good knowing that Ollie wasn’t alone.

For Diana, this night was one of the many steps that we both have to take as parents to help Ollie grow to become his own person. Helping children develop their own independence and self-confidence is one of the most important parts of parenting.

Letting go means that while you are there for your children, it takes you a longer to get to them. Yes, it’s only a couple more feet to get to Ollie now, but those are big steps that we took this week and I am so glad our Buffy was there to help.

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