I produced the idea to sleep in bed overnight with the 1-year-old while in Virginia over the weekend.
I have confirmed that she drinks coffee and does taxes in her sleep.
It wasn’t a pre-planned concept, as the hubs and I had arranged for Jrue to sleep with me on the queen-sized air mattress and daddy handle Jai in the available bed. But my son had become exhausted, and I had to put him down while the family was still active around the house, so alone to the bedroom he went, slaughtering the plan.
Soon, it was time to arrange rest for a Jai tearfully rubbing her eyes. It did not occur to me to be unreasonably worried. I was a strong woman, powerful in my expectation that I could triumph over even the obstacle of toddler hibernation.
I was naive.
Sure, I had long noticed that Jai slept in a wildly sort of manner. In the mornings, her position is customarily directly opposite of where I had placed her 10 or more hours before. Her covers are off and her hair is standing. When she wakes, she usually looks like she had been in a bar fight.
I didn’t realize how awful bar fighting would translate to an air mattress.
The night started innocently enough. My intent was to protect her from flipping off the mattress since it was a bit lifted from the floor. We had plenty of space to work with. Through the late night, she would turn a bit, deeply sigh, find her way to a crook of my arm, lose her pillow. A foot once found its way to my stomach and I gently turned her body away to avoid all further violent assaults. I think that, at one point, I even dreamed, indicating some type of a rapid eye movement sleep stage.
Then she got restless. It was about 2 a.m. Her right arm and leg ended up dangling from the side as she snoozed, so I clutched her left-side limbs and slid her slowly back towards the center of the mattress. She abruptly sat straight up in the bed, sleepily looking around in the dark.
“Lay down, Jai, it’s okay,” I prompted, patting her on the back. She plopped down. I assumed a spooning position to watch her movement and to establish safety. She quickly rolled over onto her back…then stuck her leg out to touch me with splayed toes. Then flailing arms of a snow angel creation commenced. She crashed onto her stomach, then up on her knees. Took deep breaths. Whined.
I directed her to stop and go back to sleep. She performed the equivalent dance motions of the Cha-Cha Slide. The Argentine Tango. An ’80s exercise directorial. I felt so trapped by my own fatigue, so I endured her torture for a full hour. In that hour, I mindlessly handed her a sippy cup, which she rejected. I rubbed her back, believing that mommy’s comfort would lull her. I took the covering off of her in the belief that she was too hot, then back on because the fan was cool, then off again. I made idle threats to go to sleep, NOW.
Finally, I gave her the bed and moved myself to a nearby couch. Before I zonked out, I glanced over at her. Jai was arranged sideways in the middle, surrounded by a nest of our blanket, gone from the world. Three minutes flat.
Was it that I was in the way? That was it. Mommy was obviously taking up Jai’s precious space needed for adequate, restful sleep. For my slumber to have avoided alluding me, I could have just let her have the big bed to herself from the start. This was such a classic case of overthinking and mommy being too worried.
I felt like such a ding dong.
In the morning, I sought sustenance in the form of a large caffeine and some parental solidarity. In 2014, blogger mommy TJ Falletti-Hernandez compared her sleeping toddler to a “human spin the bottle.” I connected instantly.
“I give each and every person out there that bed shares with a toddler or a young child mad props,” she began. “And also tell you that you are out of your fucking mind.”
I enveloped her pain as her related experience with her son built to a climax.
“Once asleep, what appeared angelic and sweet, lying still on his pillow, became a perpendicular sleeping ninja. Head butting, kicking, punching, feet in my back, feet in my partners back. His head on my back, his head on my stomach. His body across my head. His feet in my face. Talking in his sleep. Night terrors. And then with as little as 3 hours of real sleep for the adults, the prince awoke at 5am. WTF.” (Falletti-Hernandez, 2014)
I know that I will no longer volunteer my body to the science of that kid and a bed. It only takes once for me to learn the lesson. If Jai wants to pursue a boxing career, I now imagine that it was something she dreamed up, and rightfully trained for, in her sleep.
Falletti-Hernandez, TJ. “Why sleeping with a toddler is like going to bed with a human spin the bottle.” Chi-Town Mommy Mayhem, Oct. 21, 2014, http://www.chicagonow.com/chi-town-mommy-mayhem/2014/10/why-sleeping-with-a-toddler-is-like-going-to-bed-with-a-human-spin-the-bottle/. Accessed Aug. 21, 2017.