Mov­ing on up

The Enterprise - - Southern Maryland Classified - Twit­ter: @right­meg

Like most ma­jor changes in life, I was re­sis­tant.

At two and a half, Oliver has been sleep­ing in the same crib since the sum­mer he was born — un­til Sun­day. Ol­lie’s bed was ac­tu­ally my old crib, pur­chased by my par­ents in the 1980s and stored in great con­di­tion un­til I was ready to re-use it. Af­ter check­ing that it still met mod­ern safety re­quire­ments, Spence and I put it to­gether dur­ing the month Ol­lie was in the hos­pi­tal.

Hav­ing never had an in­fant, I as­sumed ba­bies just sleep in their cribs — and they do, of course. But not al­ways right away. In talk­ing with Oliver’s nurses in the NICU, we learned that many pre­emie par­ents pre­fer to have a bassinet in their bed­room to en­sure they’re nearby for mid­dle-of-the-night feed­ings or po­ten­tial is­sues.

With Ol­lie be­ing eight weeks pre­ma­ture, we spent a month go­ing back and forth from the hos­pi­tal and work­ing on the fi­nal set-up of his room at home. I get very emo­tional about . . . well, ev­ery­thing, I guess — ev­ery­thing per­tain­ing to my chil­dren. But Ol­lie’s room, in par­tic­u­lar, was a place of so­lace and hope as we waited for him to be strong enough to leave the NICU. Re­ar­rang­ing it now makes me antsy.

We thought we had time more time be­fore his birth. So when I was ad­mit­ted to the hos­pi­tal for high blood pres­sure and mon­i­tored on bedrest, any for­ward progress on Oliver’s nurs­ery slammed closed. My hus­band had al­ready taken the room from pink to blue, thank­fully, so the paint­ing was done — but that was about it.

Hav­ing my first baby so early def­i­nitely changed me: as a mom and a per­son. I’d say I don’t know any dif­fer­ent but, later hav­ing a daugh­ter full­term, I can def­i­nitely mea­sure our dif­fi­cult ex­pe­ri­ence against a more tra­di­tion­ally “nor­mal” one. And it was tough.

With so much left to do in the weeks af­ter I gave birth but had no child in my arms, Spence and I could chan­nel our en­ergy and anx­i­ety into get­ting our place ready for the new mem­ber of our house­hold. We had a book­case to assem­ble, cur­tains to hang, stuffed an­i­mals to ar­range. And the crib, of course. Though in ex­cel­lent over­all con­di­tion, my old bed needed some spruc­ing up. Spencer and my father-in-law cleaned, painted and as­sem­bled the crib. It would be another six months be­fore Ol­lie would ac­tu­ally sleep in it — but like so many baby-re­lated tasks, it seemed ab­so­lutely cru­cial that the crib be ready for our son.

Oliver has slept there hap­pily (well: mostly hap­pily) ever since, but he’s not a baby any­more. Ev­ery day I’m amazed — and con­cerned — by how far his long arms now stretch, hav­ing to find new and cre­ative places to keep my cof­fee from the clutches of a tod­dler. Don’t I have enough to worry about?

We’ve talked about mov­ing Ol­lie up to a “big boy” bed for a while, but . . . well, it seemed daunt­ing. Our son has a dif­fi­cult time lis­ten­ing to di­rec­tions and thinks “bed­time” as a con­cept is amus­ing, so the idea of break­ing him out of his baby jail and let­ting him roam freeish was . . . not ex­cit­ing.

More than any­thing, the crib kept Ol­lie con­tained. He isn’t a climber, so we knew that putting him in his bed meant he would stay there — and even­tu­ally fall asleep. Since he was a few months old, my son has re­sisted rest in all its forms. Oliver can sniff out when you’re go­ing to ask him to take a nap and makes sure he’s nowhere to be grabbed. And if he is? Well. Get earplugs.

Though it’s been nice know­ing Oliver is safe and con­tained, we can’t re­ally deny that he’s ready to move up to a larger bed — and OK to be pushed a bit to­ward in­de­pen­dence.

I pan­icked a bit at the idea of Ol­lie be­ing able to roam freely around his bed­room. We took out any type of fur­ni­ture that could be tipped (like the chang­ing ta­ble we’ll now use for Hadley), cov­ered all out­lets, went through his bins of ran­dom toys to en­sure noth- ing snuck in that shouldn’t be in there. A baby-gate was in­stalled just in­side his door jam, so he can eas­ily com­mu­ni­cate without leav­ing his room. Then it was time to walk away. Sort of.

We went up a half hour be­fore Ol­lie’s nor­mal bed­time, know­ing there would be some hes­i­tancy and con­cern about the new bed in his room. Spence and I cleaned out the old fur­ni­ture in the af­ter­noon. Oliver saw us do it, but I don’t think he had any sense of its per­ma­nency.

I’ve been try­ing to in­sti­tute a nightly sto­ry­time for months and saw my op­por­tu­nity Sun­day. I of­fered to read one book aloud while he set­tled in. Of course one turned into two, and two be­came four. But I was so ex­cited to fi­nally be read­ing with my lit­tle buddy that I didn’t think about cut­ting him off.

Un­like the years in which we would de­posit him in his crib, turn off the light and blow a kiss, Ol­lie is now free to move about the cabin — and he does. Oliver spent a good 20 min­utes just get­ting in and out of bed, drag­ging sev­eral quilts with him in the process. I strug­gled to find a way to en­cour­age him to stay put long enough to nod off.

Did I men­tion we’d just changed the clocks back an hour and ev­ery­one’s sched­ules were all messed up? And Oliver had re­fused to nap that day?

The kid was ex­hausted, but didn’t want me to know it. I picked up sev­eral Dr. Seuss books and be­gan to read, how­ever, and I saw the eye­lids get­ting heavy as his mu­si­cal gi­raffe toy crooned lul­la­bies.

We could have gone on for­ever, ne­go­ti­at­ing what sort of story or toy he needed at that mo­ment, but I had to cut him off. With a kiss and a wave, I left Ol­lie stand­ing at the foot of his tod­dler bed with a puz­zled look on his face.

In­de­pen­dence, I thought. Have to start let­ting him work to­ward in­de­pen­dence.

It only goes up from here.

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