Is she breathing?

I am so proud of Mia. Last night she slept the WHOLE night in her own bed. The whole night in her own room.

I have a bit of a confession to make here. It’s something I rarely talk about. It’s something most people don’t know. And I guess the reason for that would have to be because it’s a touchy subject. It’s one of those things that most people feel strongly opinionated about – not many people have a blasé attitude about it. This is the secret. This is my confession…

We are co-sleepers. Mia has slept in bed with Roger and I since the age of about three and a half. There it is. I said it. It’s out.

(Maybe it started earlier than I said.. Mia (6 months) and I “napping” when we shared a room. January 2006)

I know what you’re thinking – why start at the age of three and a half? Well, I guess there are a few reasons, the main of which being that up until that point Roger and I had shared a room with Mia. Her crib positioned right next to our bed. When Mia turned three Roger and I moved into a two bedroom apartment and Mia finally got her own room. For the first few months Mia slept in there. She slept well and I didn’t. I’d wake up constantly to check that the baby monitor was working. I’d go into her room to see if she was still breathing. If she happened to awake during the night instead of putting her back to sleep and carrying her back into her room I would let her climb in bed with us. I was scared for Mia. I wanted her close. Maybe I just plain missed her.

And that is where it all began.

Mia has always had a number of sleeping issues – falling asleep and staying asleep. Putting her to bed became a constant battle. Laying in bed at night with her for over an hour in pitch darkness praying for sleep to come I’d dream up ways to eradicate my problem. We finally decided to just let her fall asleep at her own leisure in our bed. When Mia finally fell asleep we didn’t bother moving her. I know the solution we came up with wasn’t the best, or even a good approach to her sleeping issues, but hindsight is always 20/20.

(Mia WIDE awake at 2:30 am at the age of six months – notice Roger sleeping in the background. A prime example of her sleeping habits, that she never grew out of. December 2006.)

There are a few reasons why we continued this practice for so long. The first, and foremost, would have to be because change is hard and doing nothing, well, it isn’t. But, there were other reasons too. Mia sometimes has a hard time sleeping through the night. This happens often enough and when it does Mia does NOT go back to sleep; once her eyes open it is morning for her, no matter what the time. It was just easier for me to allow her to go to sleep in my room and if by chance she awoke in the middle of the night I could easily turn the TV on for her and let her watch something while I quietly slept next to her – or, half slept, a mother NEVER really, fully sleeps. I know you’re probably thinking, “Why couldn’t she just walk from her room to yours, get in bed with you and watch TV?” The answer is simple. Once her feet hit the floor she is NOT going to lay back down unless I force the issue, and up until recently I coveted sleep more than I did an empty bed and a fight.

As time went on Mia grew, as most children do, and our bed became cramped. We realized something needed to be done, and soon, before the sleeping arrangement became awkward. Yes, awkward. Awkward because there just isn’t enough room – a queen sized bed really wasn’t meant for three people. And awkward because Mia isn’t getting any younger and we will inevitably wake up one morning lying next to our fifteen year old daughter asking where our lives went, and more importantly, our bed.

There was one other major factor that made us want to move Mia into her own bed and it wasn’t for our own comfortability – believe me when I tell you we would have went on this way forever if we thought it would be beneficial to Mia. We realized that Mia, like any child, or maybe even more than any child, needs to feel accomplished. She needs to feel independent. She needs to feel autonomous and self-sufficient. Sleeping in her own bed at night is a great place to start. It’s a great way for her to feel capable, without much help from us save the bedtime stories we read her. It’s good for her self-esteem.

(Mia sleeping in MY bed – on my side, on my pillow. November 2012.)

And so, Roger and I mapped out a complete remodeling of her bedroom. We knew there could be no other way to get her in there without this. We needed to make it into somewhere new. We needed to make it into somewhere fun. We needed to make it into a sleepy sanctuary. We had tried about two months ago to get her to in her bed and she told Roger, quite frankly, “No!” And back into our bed she went, five minutes later. That isn’t to say we thought that reconstructing her room would be the answer. Actually, we were pretty sure that we would be trucking back and forth into her room, or at the very least, one of us would be sleeping in there for awhile until she was comfortable enough to stick it out on her own.

I thought when the time came for us to put her to bed I would feel horrible. I thought I would feel as if I had abandoned her. But once again she surprised me. She loved her new room so much that she wanted to go to sleep in there – tucking herself in under the covers while Roger sat next to her reading. It was amazing. I won’t lie, I secretly cried a bit – not out of guilt but out of a bittersweet happiness. The happiness because my daughter is growing up, the bittersweet-ness because I’m not sure I like it.

(Mia SLEEPING in her new bed. It looks bright but really this picture was taken at 1 am. My camera just has a good flash I guess!)

As I write these words Mia is happily (for the moment) sleeping in her bed. She did momentarily try to join me in mine but it was easy enough to redirect her to her room. I think I will go peek at her, ya know, to see if she is breathing. 



8 thoughts on “Is she breathing?

  1. This is a very eye opening post. I now realize so many things that I take for granted with my own children. The entire time that you’ve had Mia, I was waiting for you to let me in & to really tell me how things are. Thanks to your blog I’ve found a way to connect to your life, your truth & your daughter. Although I can say a million times that I understand and, you & I know I couldn’t possibly. You my dear, are such a beautiful soul. A mother’s love is undying (surprising even to ones self). Thank God for your blog! You are giving your daughter a voice. Awareness is a much needed thing & without it, Mia would be misunderstood & misguided. Love you!

  2. you shouldn’t carry guilt about this…so many parents do the same thing. You will get used to the quiet nights…..another milestone.

  3. LOVE LOVE LOVE this!! I so understand the ” is he/she breathing” and I must say I didn’t even have half your worries, such as could she wander off. walk off the steps etc. I am so happy to hear that she has progressed to her and also that you have too. Love you and love Mia so her accomplishments!.

    • Well, we do have the door to the bathroom chain locked so she can’t walk in there AND a dog gate that is mounted to the wall and opens and closes like a door in front of the stairs (she doesn’t know how to open it – yet).. because of those two things she can literally only walk from her room to mine. So, today we feel safe. 🙂

  4. You’ve certainly done a lot of confessing, which only proves you are far too brave to be in over your head! Mia is a very lucky girl to have you and Roger as parents. I’m really enjoying the read and the road that you’re on. Congrats on your progress, and on a well written blog! Keep writing, you’ve developed yet another amazing talent. Lyn <3

  5. I totally loved your post and your honest and sweet way of writing. I feel very identified with you in many sense. My son was just diagnosed with autism and I understand the option of better sleeping with them and also a kind of sweet attachment to them. The need to be closed enough, the difficulty they have to sleep sometimes… thank you for writing 🙂

    • Thank you so much! Please stay awhile and read some more. And feel free to e-mail me anytime: .. I say this because when my daughter was diagnosed I wasn’t fortunate enough to know anyone with a child on the spectrum. I do not know if you do or don’t but pleaase know if you ever wish to chat, have a question, or just want to c your heart out through words then e-mail me. AND please do not take offense in my presumption that you might need someone to talk to, I am just thinking of my own experience at that time in my life and applying it to you. Your situation could be completely different, and in that case then please disregard this message, but keep the e-mail address just in case! 🙂

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