Wednesday, September 29, 2010

It's a Family Affair

Once upon a time, there was a married couple named EGB and J.  They were snugglers.  9:30 at night was a time to converse and laugh together while EGB rested her head on J's chest.  It was a happy, drowsy time.

Then, in the summer of 2009, this couple decided to insulate, re-plaster the walls, and paint the upstairs of their 1921 Craftsman Bungalow.  (A real charmer in Clintonville--priced to sell!)  EGB and J estimated that the project would take approximately two weeks.  As their contractor friend has pointed out, these estimates are always wrong.  To arrive at the correct figure, double the number estimate and change the unit to the next largest--meaning a two week project will actually take four months.

To make a long story short, EGB and J spent four months sleeping on the futon set up in the living room from June until September of 2009.  Oberon, their sweet but not extremely bright puppy, was confused by this.  To make him feel better, the couple invited Obie to sleep on the futon with them.  Obie approved.  He spent a great deal of time on the futon, giving the couple a look that clearly said, "Don't make me move."

The snugglers also found that they liked getting this chance to snuggle with their puppy.  It made everyone feel closer.

Then, on a particularly cold night in November, long after the couple had moved back into their bedroom and were once again sleeping on their real bed, Obie was invited up on the bed.  No one remembers who made this particular invitation, and no fingers will pointed at anyone in this blog.  (If necessary, Charlie the cat is willing to take the fall for this decision.)  Prior to this, Obie was a dog bedding snob.  He turned his nose up at the folded up blanket on the floor in favor of the big, cushiony dog bed purchased for him by doting owners.  Now Obie found that the owners had been holding out on him in terms of comfort.

There was no turning back.  Obie recognized that his rightful place was stretched out between EGB and J.   He could be with his pack of people and snooze on the comfort of a pillow top mattress with real blankets.  The problem, however, was that Obie was a 75 pound dog who was 90% leg.  Though he can curl up into a ball, his preferred sleeping arrangement on the bed was to lie with his back braced against one member of the marriage team while he stretched his legs in the opposite direction, effectively pushing the other member off the bed.

EGB and J unsuccessfully attempted to teach Obie to sleep at the foot of the bed.  They tried to teach him to not get up on the bed until invited.  They tried to teach him to sleep on one side of the bed, while a human took the coveted middle spot.  None of this worked.  Obie, a chip off the old blocks, was a snuggler, and this snuggler wanted to be in between his two people to show his deep abiding love for them by pushing one of them off the bed in the middle of the night.  How are you going to keep them down on the dog bed once they've seen Serta Pillowtop?

When EGB and J discovered that LO was on the way, they worried a little.  EGB would soon be taking up more room on the bed, and Obie's sleeping habits might not fit in with maternity sleep.  They decided, based upon their complete inability to retrain Obie once he had staked his claim on the bed, that LO would be sleeping in his own room from the very beginning.  EGB and J were far too soft-hearted to be able to retrain a dog--and a baby would be another matter entirely.  (Particularly since this decision involved sleep.  EGB and J both like their sleep, and the path of least resistance looks awfully tempting when they are drowsy.)

Worry #1 about Obie fixed itself through the move.  Though Obie had learned to love co-sleeping while EGB and J were on the futon in Columbus, after the move he found himself disliking the smaller confines of the full size futon and re-learned how to sleep on his dog bed.  One snuggler down!

But fate had another snuggler in store for the stalwart couple.  LO made it clear from just about day 1 that sleeping is better with Mom and Dad.  After one week of EGB and J attempting to put LO down in his bassinet so that they could resume their conversations and laughter while snuggling, it became much easier to bring him into bed with them.  What began as middle of the night desperation for sleep became putting LO to bed in between EGB and J when everyone went to bed at 9:30.  The Family Bed was born.

This has EGB somewhat worried and doing research.  AAP (American Academy of Pediatrics) is death on family beds.  Someone could roll over!  Blankets could cover the baby!  Dogs and cats, living together, mass hysteria!  EGB and J have begun sleeping in a heart shape--knees together in the center of the bed below LO's feet; arms touching above his head; baby comfortably on his back in the center of the heart.  The research approves, and everyone (including Obie and the cats) is sleeping better.

Now the only concern is how this snuggly family will teach LO to sleep in his own room.  EGB has visions of a 12 year old still wanting to sleep with Mom and Dad.  Perhaps that is the evolutionary reason why parents of adolescents become unbelievably embarrassing--so that there will be an end to the family bed.

In any case, there is no putting LO in his bassinet, now that he knows the joys of snuggling.  The hope is that Grandma and Safta have not wasted a great deal of money on a crib that will never be used.

Although, Obie might decide he wants to sleep in it.


  1. I think most people end up cosleeping with babies. It really is much easier, especially when you're breastfeeding. So much easier to get the baby back to sleep after a nighttime feed.

    FWIW, both of my kids actually preferred to sleep in the swing. Which is all kinds of bad for them. But it did create 5 hour nighttime stretches on occasion, which is very very good.

    We started transitioning to the crib for naps at about 4 months (when they start having set naps) and then at night in the crib at about 6 months, with CIO shortly thereafter.

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  3. So I just had to google CIO. It was kind of a "duh" moment once I did.

  4. Do whatever gets you the most sleep, both quality and quantity - for us that was co-sleeping until Isaac was about 7 months and got really kicky at night. We transitioned him to his own bed, and I preferred the increased night wakings for the better quality sleep in my own bed when it did happen.
    And I can attest that at age 5 he adores his own bed and sleeps 12 hours every night like an angel.
    We'll see how Baby #2 goes...