Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Long Live the Queen

The queen bed, that is.

For over nine years of our marriage, P & I slept on a double (full) bed. Neither of us is particularly tall although I dare not say, neither of us is particularly 'big' given my weight gain over the years. When we had the older boys (we hardly ever call them 'the twins'), we purchased a co-sleeper that attached to our bed with straps that snaked under our mattress. C & S slept together there for some months until they moved into one crib across the room from us in our one-bedroom NYC apartment, eventually ending up in two cribs head-to-head.

We don't practice hard-core attachment parenting nor would I say we are non-attachment or anti-attachment parents (although some of those hard-core folks may well accuse us of this). We wore the boys in slings & Bjorns when we could; I nursed on demand for over a year--with a bit of a wait after the initial demand for the one who didn't get to the breast first, since I never really mastered the double nursing thing. We are not against the family bed, especially given that we lived in countries where this was the norm for economic & practical reasons. However, we don't have a family bed. Perhaps because we had two at once & we slept in a double bed, we simply never had the room to have all four of us at the same time & with the co-sleeper right there, we didn't feel the urgency. At times during early infancy, S liked to stretch out over P's chest, gently riding his breaths, sleeping there a few hours between feedings. The boys didn't seem to need to sleep with us too often, perhaps because they had one another for comfort or they never felt like they were missing out too much as they went down to sleep together. Therefore, our kids-sleeping-in-our-bed philosophy evolved: we don't want a child in our bed, all night, every night, but if he is sick or scared or shows a general strong need for warmth & cuddling, we tuck him between us, sometimes through the night but sometimes returning him to his own bed when he seems settled or his elbows are just too sharp & flailing for the two of us to get sleep in this narrow space.

When F joined the pary, we were living in a two-bedroom apartment. We chose to keep him with us for the year, again moving from co-sleeper to crib on the other side of our bedroom. We wanted S & C to sleep through the night undisturbed by their little brother's cries, especially since they had not done so until we had moved to the two-bedroom apartment when they were just over a year old. There were times F ended up sleeping in our bed but that was often at 4:30AM & if we just rubbed his back for the next 62 minutes or so, we could stay in bed in the prone position, hoping for just a minute's sleep more. When he moved into his brothers' room, the transition went smoothly. I almost dare not say this since I may well tempt the gods of going-to-bed children who will smite me for admitting this, but the boys' bedtime has never been particularly painful--for us or them. We have our routine & we rarely waver in it. In our new apartment, all three continue to share a room & go down at the same time so it is like a nightly slumber party, without the shaving cream or fingers-in-the-water tricks (for right now, that is). I hear of others with twins who have more space who separate their kids in different bedrooms early on as to not disturb one another's sleep. However, we have never had this option & for the moment, I couldn't see any of my guys accepting this scenario. They like being together & tend to scamper into bed relatively easily as long as we have followed our bedtime ritual.

About a month ago, P & I got a queen-sized bed. It was not something we went out & purchased or intentially sought. Due to family circumstances, a queen-sized bed was up for grabs & my siblings kindly directed it our way. I was a bit sad to break down our double bed. I loved its history & simple lines. Plus we had a great mattress we bought when I was 8 11/12 months pregnant with F & my hips ached to such extremes, I was hanging more on the comfy couch in the wee hours of night than in bed. Before this purchase, I never truly understood the difference a good mattress can make. Funnily enough, when we went to buy the new full-sized mattress, it never even occured to us to take this money & upgrade to a larger sized bed. After F turned a year old & sometimes two little fellows would seek time in our bed on the same night, we wondered why we hadn't. But this queen bed came our way anyway.

Initially, it was bizarre to see this hulking dark wood structure take over our entire bedroom. When we first climbed in, it felt enormous like a massive cruise ship or something. The first nights were particulary strange as I dreamed of my father who, not too many days before, had napped in this bed and often stretched out on this mattress, leaning against propped-up pillows to watch football on tv in his bedroom. But in less than a week, P & I grew accustomed to the bed & slowly something has happened since it arrived in our home. We seem to be having more nightly visitors in our bed. I haven't charted the progress or even checked the polls, but I swear since the queen bed arrived, the boys have been in our bed with greater frequency than ever before. Why is this? Does more space have some sort of magnetic pull on them to fill it? Are we quicker to invite them in when they call out at night? Do they feel the need for more physical comforting at this time of increased disquiet in our lives?

The call from the other room came out at 1:07AM last night, growing more & more insistent. "Mama. Maa-maa. Maaaaaaaaa-maaaaaaaaaaaaaaa!" P jumped up & returned with an F bundle, along with two stuffed bears & one furry-red, stuffed, friendly monster. Back rubbing didn't work. His little body tossed around. At one point, P again jumped from bed, this time with a yelp when a small, flailing foot connected with his groin area. This morning, P said wearily, "Wow. He managed to kick me in the balls AND then in the eyeballs with all his flipping and moving around." The extra space of this queen-upgrade erased in mere moments. However, she won't be replaced any time soon. We aren't particularly looking to crown a new (male) successor. We just want a night of uninterrupted sleep.


Jennifer said...

I think the spirit of Big Dog lives on in Finn, who obviously already has learned how to kick with accuracy.

Andrea said...

If it would guarantee a kid-free night, I would downgrade to a twin in a minute (perhaps two twins--Dick Van Dyke style). Ahhhhh....

Terra said...

Oh my gosh, a good bed is so wonderful. I think the idea of the family bed is great and makes sense, but the practicality of it - a good night's sleep for the adults who so badly need it - might not be so easy to get.