Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Nature vs. Nurture

I have been wanting to post this little update for weeks now but wanted to ensure that it was for real and I think it really is. The girls (finally, I would like to add) have been falling asleep as most children do. Without screaming and crying and insisting that Mommy sit on the floor next to their beds. Finally. Well, Allie was already there months ago. Anna and Em have joined her.

Em still pulls the old "I need to use the potty" delay tactic and she did that four times last night, which was a record for her.

Now, if only they would stay in their beds all night.

When the girls transitioned to their beds from cribs, we would have nights here and there where one (or two or all three) would awaken in the middle of the night and require assistance. Whether that be me or Rich sitting next to the fussy one for a few minutes or the fussy one actually getting in our bed.

I was still having difficulty with Em falling asleep without crying for me so I started telling her about three/four weeks ago that she needed to be a big girl and fall asleep on her own and if she awakened in the middle of the night and was afraid, she could come to Mommy and Daddy's room.

Well, she's been coming into our room EVERY. single. night. For the past three weeks. Except for one night. In the morning, I always ask her what she had been afraid of and she always gives the same answer. "I was afraid of Allie." Why were you afriad of Allie? "Because she came into my room when I was sleeping." Uh, I don't think she did.

Anna has been the most consistent with sleeping and staying in her own bed throughout the night. She even sleeps in late here and there. And (big, huge step) she uses a pillow and a blanket. These kids slept in sleep sacks for so long, I didn't think that they would ever use blankets.

What I have noticed and mentioned to Rich is that when they are sleeping in our bed, they seem to want contact. There is usually an arm or a leg outstretched to touch one of us or thrown on top of us. Or I might sleep back to back with whoever happens to be in the bed. Is this a thing with all kids? Maybe. Is it specific to personality? Maybe.

I had kind of thought that at this age, they would maybe possibly sneak into bed with each other. Nope, hasn't happened. In fact, they seem to like having personal space. There was one night months ago when they were sick and Allie and Em were sleeping downstairs with me. I remember them sleeping touching each other and they actually seemed to sleep better for that stretch. It was as if they were comforting each other in their sleep.

Now here's where nature versus nurture comes into play. When the girls were infants, I was so afraid that they would smother each other that they never slept right next to each other and when they did share a pack-n-play or a crib, they were carefully placed at opposite ends. I used to quite often sleep with one of the girls on my chest (very carefully, I know how dangerous this is) or in the bed next to me. That was usually Em. I would place her at an angle with her feet in my stomach so that if she moved, I would wake up.

Em was our most difficult sleeper even back then and I always took care of her at night because of that. Is this why she insists on sleeping with me? I suppose I shouldn't question it so much.

So when Allie ends up in our room, I ask her the same question that I do of Em, "What were you afraid of?" Her response usually is, "I was afraid of Anna, She came into my room when I was sweeping." (Yes, sweeping. I know, how cute) Lately, she has been saying that she is afraid of the clothes in her room, to which Rich gives me the hairy eyeball as I am still working on that closet turnover/reorganization project.

And Anna is sometimes afraid as well. Of who? Allie. Because Allie goes into her room while she's sleeping. I still don't understand why this would scare her and Allie doesn't go into her room when she is sleeping. Okay, they do sometimes go into each other's rooms in the middle of the night but the sleeping sister never wakes up.

Last night, Em woke up crying four times between 9:00 and 10:00. She was half-asleep and still whining/crying even with me holding her. At first I thought it was just a bad dream and then I gave up at 10:00 and brought her into my room in an attempt to get ready for bed without her waking her sisters. Didn't work. I ignored Allie crying in her room and she eventually went back to sleep. Rich was at a Red Sox game so I was flying solo. Well , I didn't want to bother Grammy.

I should note that Em only acts like this when she is really sick or teething so I was extremely nervous that there was something wrong with her. The half awake/half asleep whining/crying/in distress thing continued on and off until 1:45 AM. Now, Rich was concerned as well. I actually woke her up at this point because I wanted her to tell me exactly what was wrong. She had mumbled earlier that her knee hurt and she told me that again. (She fell in the driveway Sunday night and really scraped up one of her knees.)

Per her request, I poured her a sippy cup of milk and prepared myself to calm her back to sleep. Again. Rich was back upstairs at this point and Em said in a little, scared voice, "I don't want to go to Dr. L." Dr. L is their pediatrician. I told her that she didn't need to go to the doctor. That her knee as okay and she wasn't sick.

Em has been obsessed with the Berenstain Bears "Go To The Doctor" book and I think she somehow got this idea in her head that she was going to have to go to the doctor for her boo boo. She still remembers and talks about the shots she received a few weeks ago. After I told her that she didn't have to go to the doctor, she fell back asleep (albeit on the couch cushion bed in the family room) and slept fairly good until morning.

And she was in a decent mood this morning. And you know what? I was so relieved that there wasn't anything wrong with her. I don't even care about the lost sleep. They are only going to be three years old once.

Okay, now I want to mention one of the tricks that I tried to use to keep the girls in their beds all night. One night I told them that they shouldn't get out of their beds unless they heard Grammy talking downstairs. If Grammy was downstairs talking, it was morning and okay to get up. Em ended up in bed with us in the middle of the night anyway. The next morning I asked her why she hadn't stayed in bed until she heard Grammy. "Well, that's because I didn't hear Grammy so I got up."


MandyE (Twin Trials and Triumphs) said...

I was also very scared when our girls were babies that they would somehow smother each other. As a result (although I'm probably exaggerating a little bit), it seems like they barely touched each other for the first six months of their lives. In hindsight, I'm sad that I don't have pictures of them piled on top of each other like I see from other MoMs.

Our girls (16 months old) are still using sleep sacks. They move around so much in their cribs that I don't otherwise see how they would stay covered. When did you move away from the sleep sacks? When your girls transitioned to their beds? Thanks!

Bethany Varner said...

When I was you kids age and older I still remember waking up in the middle of the night and waking them up, saying I had a bad dream. Usualy I didn't have a bad dream, I just wanted to make sure they were still there. Sometimes I would not even wake them up. I would just sleep at the end of their bed.
I am 14 now and I still like to sleep in my mom's bed when I had a bad day or I just need extra loving, but thats just me.

Jayme said...

Ryan is a cuddler, he needs to be right up in someone's space to sleep well. Dylan wants his own space. So Dylan sleeps in his crib, and Ryan almost always ends up in bed with us LOL

Sarah said...

Mandy - the girls stopped using sleepsacks when they started sleeping in their beds. They gave them up pretty easily.