There Were Four in the Bed

Dear Munchkin and Peanut,

I had trouble sleeping last night. Maybe my mind was racing too much. Maybe it’s because my nose is completely stuffed and I couldn’t breathe. Could it have been the Diet Coke I had at dinner? That was 7 hours earlier! Whatever the cause, it gave me the opportunity to play the observer.

When I first came to bed a little before 1 a.m., I had to move both of you a bit to make room for me to lay down between you. I must have jostled Peanut a little too much, because he wailed once and did some flopping around trying to get comfortable again. He finally settled pressed up next to me, his head propped on my shoulder and my arm curled around him. My first thought was “he’s so hot!” But he didn’t have a fever; he just inherited his dad’s body heat radiation powers. It was nice, because I was cold. I lay there cuddling him and thinking, “this is the life.”

A little before 2 a.m., Munchkin moved into a modified “H” position, with her head close to mine and her feet over by Daddy. Peanut shifted, too, flopping around again and finally coming to rest with the top half of his body perpendicularly across my stomach. I was fine with that, until he shifted a little more, pressing his shoulder blade into my bladder. And suddenly I had the urge but worried if I moved him again, he would completely wake up and it would take a long time to get him back to sleep. So I remained still, thinking he might shift again before too long, and maybe then I could extricate myself.

Around the same time, Munchkin started kicking Daddy in the stomach. It was hard not to laugh as I lay there, trying to move as little as possible, trying not to think about Peanut pressing on my bladder, and hearing Daddy’s “Oof!” each time Munchkin kicked. The situation seemed absurd, to say the least. About 15 minutes and quite a few kicks later, Daddy retreated to the couch. “There Were Five in the Bed” started running through my head, and I just couldn’t hold in the laughter any longer. I managed to muffle it to merely a chuckle, though, so as not to disturb Peanut.

Maybe half an hour passed, and Peanut moved again. I tried to take advantage of his self-propulsion to gently ease myself out from under him, but he wailed and started flopping around, even sitting up. I gave him the baby bottle of water from the night table and we settled back down together, his head resting on my upper arm. Meanwhile, Munchkin seemed pretty comfortable, now that she had fully half the queen-sized bed to herself.

I must have dozed off for a while, because the next thing I knew, it was 3:15, the pillow was soaked, and so was my shirt sleeve. I realized Peanut had dropped the bottle after he fell back to sleep, and it leaked quite a bit. I inadvertently disturbed him as I tried to move off the puddle, but it worked in my favor because he let me guide him to re-settle next to me, but not on me, and away from the wet spot. I flipped the pillow over, then grabbed the Snoogle and curled it around him, kind of like the way Indiana Jones replaces the gold statue with a bag of sand in Raiders of the Lost Ark. This freed me to leave the bed long enough to change my shirt and finally use the bathroom. When I returned at about 3:45, I was able to move Munchkin over and arrange her more vertically so she was taking up less of the bed, giving myself a little more room, too. Once I laid back down, though, she turned so that her hand was cupping the side of my face; I thought that was very sweet.

I think I finally fell asleep around 4:00-4:15, and we all slept soundly the rest of the night. I just wish “the rest of the night” had been longer; the only thing that got me moving at 6:30 was the knowledge Munchkin would be late to school and I would be late to work if I didn’t get up.

You’re probably wondering why I chose to write about this on the last day of the “30 Days of Thanks” meme. The answer is simple: I am thankful Daddy and I chose to let you share our bed. Despite sacrificing our own comfort at times, despite sacrificing our own sleep sometimes, I think bed sharing is one of the best parenting decisions we’ve made.

Not all nights are like this. And we’ve been seriously discussing getting a king-sized bed so we all could have more room. But believe it or not, our arrangement actually helps all of us get more sleep. Because we’re all together, neither of you fully wakes up most nights, even when you wail or cry out. You settle back down more easily, and Daddy and I don’t even have to get out of bed most of the time. We can all get back to sleep relatively quickly. And just as important, we all enjoy the closeness and intimacy of it. Cuddling my darling children through the night and waking up next to your sweet faces in the morning are blessed experiences I look forward to each day. Sharing sleep is an opportunity for our family to bond even when we’re at our busiest.


NB: This narrative describes bed sharing with a toddler and a preschooler. For bed sharing with an infant, please read these safety guidelines from Dr. Sears.

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