The time has come for The Baby to take her first steps into the Big Wide World. Yes, tonight she will be moving into her own bedroom. Notice that I don’t say that she will be sleeping in her own bedroom, because that’s highly unlikely to happen, but she will be spending at least part of the night in her cot. I hope.
I also hope that this will be the start of a new, improved sleep phase for her, because over the past month, her night-time behaviour has gone from bad to worse, to the point that she’s now pretty much nocturnal. On an average night, The Baby will sleep soundly from her 7pm bedtime until 10.30pm or thereabouts, and then wake every 45 minutes for the rest of the night, until I finally cave in and let her invade my bed at around 5am. And I’ve had enough. The thing is, I know that I’ve compounded the situation by grabbing her and feeding her every time she stirs, in the hope that she’ll doze back off quickly and let me get back to sleep too. I have created a monster – a milk monster who is now incapable of self-settling.
The whole ‘moving baby to its own room’ milestone is a new one for me. When The Boy was tiny, we lived in a Victorian terrace where bedroom two was ‘en suite’ to bedroom one. That’s a jumped-up way of saying that he slept in a cupboard adjoining our room. His progression from Moses basket to cot at 12 weeks old involved him moving, ooh, about two feet further away from me, so it never felt like a big deal.
This time round, though, we have a proper house and so we’re faced with moving The Baby into a proper bedroom, with a proper wall between us and everything. The logistics of it are baffling me somewhat. Do I use a baby monitor and accept that I’ll still be woken by every snuffle and grunt, or do I just leave doors open and assume that I’ll hear her if she really needs me? If, as usual, she ends up spending half the night on the boob, do I sit and feed her in her room, cold and wide awake, or do I take her back into my bed to feed, only to have to get back up and return her to her cot afterwards? When she starts chattering at 5am, will I be able to whisk her into bed with me and settle her back to sleep, or will the journey from her room to mine wake her up entirely, to the effect that the day starts before the dawn chorus?
I have a nasty feeling that one way or another, this is going to result in me getting even less sleep than usual. And given that I’m surviving (just) on an average four broken hours a night, that’s going to hurt.
There’s also a big and soppy part of me that, despite the fact that night-times are one long sequence of feeding, shushing and dummy plugging, will really miss having The Baby in my room. Yes, she is a complete and utter pain in the backside at night, but, well, she’s only tiny. I get some strange sense of security from knowing that my little fluffy-headed bundle is within arm’s reach, and although I prefer her not to spend the entire night in bed with me, I’ll admit that I do rather like my early morning snuggles. I’m going to feel lost without her next to my bed, and would stake my mortgage on waking up at some point tonight in an ‘Oh my goodness, where’s The Baby gone?’ panic.
Still, I know it has to be done, and it has to be done tonight, before I sacrifice the very last of my marbles to sleep deprivation. The Baby is six months old now, so we’ve done our time, and the longer she stays in our room, the worse her sleep habits are going to get. Let’s face it, she should be capable of sleeping for more than three hours at this age; she goes longer than that between feeds during the day, for heaven’s sake. Maybe tonight will be the turning point and she’ll finally manage a five- or six-hour stretch.
I might keep her crib in our room just in case, though…