When we found out that our
Baby-Toddler-Preschooler-Bee would become a big sister to Bun, we-the-parents contemplated the ways that baby-adorable-the-first 'might-could' react to the introduction of the new family member. We read about tantrums and regression and tears and prepared ourselves for giving extra attention, having more patience and returning to the 'pull-ups' stage for a bit. And while we knew that there could be (and probably would be) times when our newborn's cries would wake our elder daughter, we did not anticipate that this family transition from three to four would influence the well-established sleeping habits of our three-point-five-year-old to such a great degree.
Bun's arrival didn't bring any tantrums*. Our sweet big sister was excited to meet her "new baby", and has not shown any of the typical symptoms associated with the addition of a younger sibling. Except one:
She is no longer willing to go to sleep. Mama should actually include the qualifier, "alone".
The tiny girl is absolutely willing to go to sleep with a friend. She'll go to sleep at her friends' house (**thank you Mrs. Beth for caring for our first baby while we had our second**). She'll go to sleep in the company of the entire family as we ride in the car. She'll go to sleep in her uncle's arms as he carries her from the carousel back to the bookstore. And she'll go to sleep at home, in her own bed even, as long as either her Mama or her Dadoo (though preferably her Dadoo) is cuddled up right next to her.
This unwillingness to fall asleep alone is not confined to the initial falling asleep, but extends to every falling asleep throughout the entire night, so that each time a plane, helicopter, tree-branch, motorcycle (thanks biker neighbors for your super loud cruising at eleven p.m., we love it, really), squirrel, dishwasher, ice-maker or whisper from her parents awakens her, she needs/wants one of us to crawl back in bed with her.
Though we'd struggled a tiny bit with this sleep thing before baby-the-second arrived, in the weeks preceding the birth, things had settled down a bit. Then, we brought the baby home, and things ceased to settle ... at least in the evening hours. Mama spends most of her evening hours awake feeding Baby-Bun, and Dadoo spends most of his evening hours awake, calming Baby-Bee and attempting to persuade her into long slumber.
Our success has been limited, like our sleep and our dwindling patience. Until the introduction of what some, more judgmental persons (who are obviously better parents) might call a bribe. We-the-parents call it desperate times, and thank heavens for William Schrafft or whoever created the jelly bean.
Big girls are polite, obedient, and rested. Big girls sleep all night long in big girl beds, all by themselves. Big girls eat big-girl-breakfasts of jelly beans, cheerios and occasionally, Pez. And we, ladies and gentlemen, are raising a big girl. A sweet, going to bed with less and less assistance kind of big girl who loves Jelly Belly beans in watermelon, bubblegum, blueberry and cherry. A big girl who, though lying awake and singing for an hour after we put her there, stays in bed, alone, all night.
Well, at least for the last few days. Still, it feels like we're closer to being back on a relatively normal sleep schedule, and we'll hold onto whatever hope we have right now. Because, as previously mentioned, it's desperate times in the sleep department. And we-the-parents are rapidly re-affirming the realities that:
a.) we are no longer in our twenties,
b.) we are much better and more coherent people when we get at least three hours of uninterrupted sleep in the evenings, and
c.) our tiny-bee is much happier and well-behaved when she, too, gets at least three hours of uninterrupted sleep in the evenings.
Hear, hear and hip, hip for the jelly bean! Long live the bean and the refreshing minutes of rest it affords! Hooray for our big girl! Hooray that she loves her little sister and is merely struggling with sleep and not some urge to beat up the baby. Hooray for big girls who go to sleep late, but sleep in a little later so Mamas get time for coffee. And blogging. *wink*
**We-the-parents do realize it's early days, and we're not counting any chickens at this time.**