Moving on up
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.