When Mia was born I felt like she was awake for the first 36 hours. Everything startled her and made her cry. The only time she was comforted was when I was holding her. I would let others hold her and she would only cry harder. She never slept when it was time. I would go to classes and talk to friends and I always felt like I was doing it wrong. They would say, “try this method, it worked for me.” I tried everything. I called specialists; I read books. It seemed like the only time she slept is if it was with one of us. As she got older nothing changed. She was still up every two hours looking for someone to comfort her. I realized that this was my life. I was pregnant with Penna and accepted that I may never sleep again. I started laying on her floor to help her feel comfortable while she was falling asleep. Within two hours she was up and worried. She was right back to our room. If I wasn’t coming to the end of my pregnancy, just maybe, I would have had the energy to walk her back. This wasn’t happening. I was exhausted. Being a full time mommy to a crazy tot and 8 months pregnant I had to figure something out. I needed my full bed for my pregnant belly and husband so I came up with a master plan. A toddler mattress on the floor. She was welcome into our room anytime she woke up and was allowed to come lay down. Just no waking up mommy and the new baby. It worked. She eventually stopped waking up at all once she made it to her bed on our floor. Eventually she just went to her little bed to fall asleep. She felt safe in her little bed. She was 2. She was my baby and I wanted her to feel safe.
As Penna grew she was the opposite. She was a sleeper. No sleep training methods needed. She slept when it was time and I woke up as needed to feed her. She went from her bassinet to her room and eventually to her toddler bed. Never an issue. All this time Mia was still on our floor. Mia turned 4. I felt guilty. My child was sleeping on a toddler mattress on the floor of our room. I was embarrassed to tell my friends. I had an idea. We redecorated her toddler room and made it more “her”. Pink and pretty. Everything a little girl can dream of. I thought she would love it. The first night she cried and screamed. She was up every 2 hours again, terrified. I could see it in her eyes. We tried laying in there with her to help her get used to it. As soon as we left she would sneak into our room and back to the floor. We decided to be firm one night and we told her that she needed to stay in her room. That night I found her in the hallway under a blanket. The next night she was in Penna’s room on the floor beside her toddler bed. From that moment she realized that she could sleep in her sisters room happily, and Penna loved it! Around the same time Pen started having some minor night terrors. Having Mia in her room was a comfort to her if she woke up. Penna felt comforted, and Mia felt safe. It was the perfect balance for what my girls needed at the time. No one ever mentioned to me that I may have a child that needed to feel the presence of someone else in a room while they slept. My Mia does. She rests easy, and is a happier child. I wish someone would have told me when I had her that sometimes letting your child sleep, wherever it may be, is better for everyone in the house.
When they first joined rooms I worked with the girls to create the perfect shared room. We got two small beds from Ikea that cost just $50 and put up some of their favorite pictures. We used their personalities to plan the décor. They picked out their bedding. Penna worked with the Street Artist ROYAL to create the canvas that hangs above their bed. It was perfect for them. It is a little room. It is cozy. They could hold hands and talk at night if they couldn’t sleep. Mia grew out of these little beds right before her 6th birthday and since she was so happy with her sister we transitioned them to bunk beds!
Mia had finally found her place in our house. Her first place to sleep. It only took us 5 years to figure her out and accept what she needed. It takes time. We are not perfect as parents and we do what can with the advice we are given. Every child is different, and mine certainly did not follow the mold. We struggled with her sleep and after having a second child I was able to accept that I wasn’t doing it wrong. She needed something that other children don’t always need. She needed us to understand.