So it's no secret that Matt and I allowed our kids to sleep in our bed. Rachel did not; she was fine in her crib, we were first time parents and that was how "they" said to do it. However, when we brought Julia home (and then Ben, and then Emma)--she utterly refused to sleep anywhere but on us or next to us. We tried the bassinet, the swing, the car seat, and even a crib. However, with each one of them, they would feel the sensation of being put down and would instantly be alert. I have never understood babies who just get put down and drift off to sleep. That never worked for us. Ours needed to nurse to sleep, and then there was no way to put them down. So it was the family bed, with the infant cuddled next to me, usually nursing, and sometimes the toddler (this would be Julia when Ben was a baby and Ben when Emma was a baby) cuddled somewhere on the bed, wherever there was room.
Once they reached 7 or 8 months, we found that having them in their own bed worked fine. I would lie down and nurse them to sleep, easing out when they were down, and they'd stay that way--sometimes for only a few hours, sometimes for most of the night. But we could at least have some time to ourselves without baby in tow, and a couple of hours of uninterrupted sleep. Then we'd share the bed when they woke in the night, sometimes with two (baby and toddler).
As you can imagine, this meant that we have had some rough nights in the past eight and a half years! Babies crying, toddlers thumping down the hall and wiggling in, nursing and nursing and nursing. Now that Emma has been weaned for months, we at least don't have the nursing! And Julia and Ben sleep solidly through the night. But Emma has continued to come into our bed at some point in the night even though there is no nursing involved. And after she weaned, I still let her fall asleep in my lap the way she was used to doing it--either while I was watching TV or at the computer. I would deposit her in her bed when she was asleep, and wonder when she'd come in to cuddle that night.
However, about three months ago, I told her she was getting way too big to sleep on my lap. It was hurting my back, putting my legs to sleep--sometimes I could barely stand up holding her! So we began a new routine, one that worked very well. I would read her a story, then cuddle and kiss her for a few moments with some quiet talking, and then she'd fall asleep on her own with the light on. After she fell asleep, one of us would switch the light off, leaving just the night light, and at some point in the night she'd wake and come in with us the way she always had.
Gradually I noticed she was sleeping most of the night in her bed, coming to us only rarely before 5 am. Then one night she woke when I was getting ready for bed, and I thought, here we go, now I have to stop what I'm doing and go in to settle her down again... but to my surprise, she turned, went back to her bed, flicking on the light when she passed the switch, cuddled back into bed, and promptly fell back asleep!
Then last night, I woke during a huge thunderstorm, thinking it was maybe only 2 or 3 o'clock. (It didn't feel like I'd been asleep very long!) The rain made me decide I'd better head for the bathroom, and to my surprise, when I squinted at the clock it was 4:50 am! I went to the bathroom, and on the way back to my room, noticed that Emma's door was still closed, but her light was on! She'd apparently heard the thunder, too--but simply turned on her light and went back to sleep!
I am really proud of her! Most kids are scared of thunder, so for her to stay in her bed is really sweet. And yes, I could say that I miss having a little one in bed with us...but I'd be lying! I truly enjoy having it just be me, Matt and various cats. And since Emma still cuddles with me every morning (she's a late sleeper, too, which is wonderful!) it isn't as though I was missing out on being close to her.
Anyway, it just makes me happy, so I thought I'd share.