It really is quite literally years since I have had a run of nights where the sleep was unbroken. Years.
I only have myself (well and my husband) to blame. You know that old adage that people love to bandy around when they don't agree with your parenting techniques; you're making a rod for your own back! Well I made this particular rod and my back has very much had to put up with it.
When my children's were babies, none of them particularly liked sleeping in their cots. Now before you shout at me, yes I am sure that I could have persevered with them and used controlled crying, but I didn't and I didn't want to. I actually enjoyed co-sleeping. It made things easier when they were small and we were fully aware of the risks but chose that path quite early on. Once they were big enough to go into a toddler bed however, the retraining process began. To be fair O wasn't always with us so I didn't mind him coming in and it wasn't that often anyway and R was amazing, he was only 19 months when I had L so he moved out quite quickly and we never looked back with him and in all the years that followed, it has been very rare to get a visit from him in the middle of the night.
As per usual, L was very different. I have blogged before about his sleep problems and about the fact that he didn't start sleeping through the night until two years ago. He too went into a toddler bed early but because he was so noisy when he woke up in the night, he always ended up in with us in order to try and minimise the disturbance for everyone else. Every night. And to make matters worse he is one of those wriggly sleepers; you know the ones I'm sure, he used to wrestle the bedclothes and move around the bed and I would often wake up with his big toe up my nostril. It was not a pleasant experience. Not at all.
We should have been firmer with him sooner but when you're tired it is easy to go for the option of least resistance and most sleep gain, even if it did often end up with one of the adults going to sleep in his bed.
When I fell pregnant with A we knew it was going to be a tough old process with L and we slowly started to wean him out of our bed and we ended up taking it in turns to lie with him when he woke up in the night. This was not great either as he wraps himself up in his duvet like a cocoon and that duvet is not for sharing. So not only would you be lying next to a giant thrashing duvet, you got the added bonus of freezing your bits off at the same time. Joy.
When we started to think about rooms and where A would sleep, it occurred to us that the boys would have to share and that was a bit of a turning point for L as the nightly visitations did get less and in the end a strong dose of tough love was required in the shape of a very cross mummy making it very clear that her bed was a strictly no child zone until it was cuddle time in the morning.
Along came little miss A and althoug she is amazing at going to bed, more often than not, she ends up in with us. It isn't a problem as she comes in, she settles down on her pillow and is softly snoring within minutes. Unless she has a blocked nose, which seems to turn her into a screaming writhing monster and it is impossible to placate her so I have invested in several bottles of Olbas for children and I put so much down that the whole neighbourhood has clear noses, not just A.
So over the years, I have had toes up my nostrils, feet on my head, hands tangled in my hair, bottoms in my face an even a pair of feet in my pants (yes at the same time as my over sized bottom, it was nice and warm in there apparently) I've been kicked, punched, pushed, head butted and woken up more times than I've had hot dinners and in spite of being the proud owner of a Super King Sized bed no less, I have spent too many nights hanging onto the edge of that large bed by my finger nails. Now I am making a stand. Enough is enough. That bed, the battered looking thing in the corner of my bedroom, it's mine and I am taking it back. I do love cuddles and there will always be the times when the children have bad dreams or are feeling poorly when they can come in for a little cuddle. Then back they will go, to their own beds.