Sleeping. Or not.

Last night I woke up at 2:34 a.m. to go to the bathroom. It took me a minute to finagle my way out of bed, trying not to disturb the 5 year old lying sideways between me and Paul, or the 8 year old at the foot of the bed (still in his dirty baseball uniform, mind you, and clutching his prized game ball), and of course trying not to wake either of the dogs, who were sandwiched somewhere in between the humans in the bed. The 10 year old had made his way into our room as well, sleeping peacefully on the loveseat next to our bed.

It all started a few months before Tucker was born. "We have GOT to get a bigger bed," I announced to my husband one morning, as my ever-growing pregnant belly took over the tiny little double bed we had been sharing. (And in retrospect, are not those the teensiest mattresses ever? What's the point? Might as well just have a twin.)

So off to the store we went, and a few hours (and a few thousand dollars) later, we were the exuberant owners of a pillow top king sized bed.

(Remind me sometime to tell you about Paul and the Ambien. Let's just say he slept like a baby diagonally across the brand new king sized dream bed while his 40 week pregnant, miserable wife slept on the sofa because she could not move him. 11 years later and yes, I still remember.)

Until, of course, September 18, 2001. Had we known then what we know now, we would have just stayed in bed, asleep, for a good month or two to prepare for the next several years.

It started out innocently enough. No one ever starts out their parenting career thinking they will co-sleep. But then reality sets in. The reality of a nursing infant who likes to nurse every hour or so. All.night.long. (Which is totally normal. Moms milk supply is higher at night than any other time.) So instead of reaching over, getting kid out of bassinet, nursing, putting kid back in subtly morphs into just leaving kid attached to breast and falling back asleep and never really knowing if the leech sweet baby unlatches at all through the night.

Then baby #2 comes and the process is repeated, only now kid #1 is still in the bed because he is still nursing. Now you are tandem nursing all.night.long. Until you urge kid #1 to night wean, which he finds an odd request, since baby #2 is still a marathon nursing dude.

Then comes #3, and we're all too freaking tired to do anything other than all pass out as a family in the same king sized bed that we had bought 5 years earlier. When there was just the two of us.

Which is not to say that we don't sleep now. We do. Through the night, even. Everyone is potty trained, everyone is weaned, everyone sleeps through the night.

Just not in their own space.

We sleep on edges of beds, with slivers of covers. We sleep with feet in our faces and behinds in our backs. We get punched a few times per week by the stray flying extremity.

After I made my way back to the bed and pushed kids and dogs out of the way, I lay there awake for awhile, thinking about how hysterical it was that the 10 year old is always begging for his own room, when in reality we could easily live in a one bedroom flat somewhere. They all like to be close to us. Occasionally one or two of them will start out the night in their own bed, or on the sofa in the living room, but eventually it seems we all wake up in close quarters.

I know that one day this will not be the case. (Even though Griffin states unequivocally that he, his wife, and their children will also come over every night to sleep in our room, if not in our bed.) One day, probably soon, Tucker will make his way to his own room for some much needed privacy. Griffin won't be too far behind. And Sissy will eventually find her way to her room to fall asleep to the sounds of Justin Bieber instead of her daddy's snoring.

Why do kids hate being alone at nighttime? Probably the same reason many adults do. Studies show that nighttime is when anxieties, depression, sadness, and fear presents itself. Hospitals and nursing homes know this phenomenon well. In our society, use of night time sleep aids is on the rise. Everyone is having trouble sleeping, it seems.

My suggestion?

Have a kid.

You'll sleep like a baby.

Or at least you'll think you did.

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