Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Le lit de grand = no go

Here's something new parenting has taught me:

Any plan that terminates with you in the middle of your child's bedroom at 3 o'clock in the morning, an Ikea instruction manual in hand, cannot be considered a success.

Le Petit's crying over the baby monitor woke us up on Monday at 4 am. We waited a moment before my husband peeked in when, trying as he might to peer into the dark bedroom, he was greeted by a heart-stopping thump. Le Petit had launched himself over the crib rail. It was not his first attempt at escape, but it was certainly his most dramatic. Our minds were made up: the transfer to the big boy bed would take place that evening.

I dreaded it all day. I talked about it incessantly to my colleagues, who all, whether parents or not, could care less. (Did I mention I need more mommy friends? I do.) I rehashed the plan for an hour with my mother-in-law. By the time bedtime rolled around I was a nervous wreck. But le Petit, when he discovered that the side was removed from the crib, jumped all over it and looked delighted. Perhaps the situation was more promising than I thought.

We did our bedtime ritual as usual, and I put le Petit down, anxious but hopeful. He immediately rolled over and bumped his head on the corner of the new side. He melted into tears. I picked him up and snuggled him next to me on the mattress on the floor, but he was no more comfortable. For the next three hours (3!) he tossed, turned, flung himself from bed to floor; alternately climbed on my back, feet, and head; squeezed himself into a tiny corner of bare wood floor next to the window; and stumbled around in the dark, confused. Meanwhile, I sang, patted, snuggled, begged, explained, and nothing helped. It seemed that the whole concept of sleeping anywhere other than his four-walled crib was completely foreign to him. Since he's never coslept with us except for a few desperate weeks when he was a newborn, a big person bed just didn't compute.

At eleven-thirty, we both dazedly wandered out into the living room where my husband had been anxiously waiting since half past eight. Valiantly mastering his brimming frustration, he offered to take over, and I was more than happy to accept.

The next two and half hours were grim. With me, le Petit was searching for sleep but otherwise calm; with his father, he screamed. I kept reminding myself that he was with a loving and calm adult (for my husband remained admirably calm throughout) but I hid under the covers in my own bed, curled up in a ball listening to desperate calls for maman. My husband finally helped le Petit calm down by leading him around the apartment for the third time in a row, showing him that everyone in the big, wide world was asleep, and bringing him back to his favorite chair for a story. They cuddled, he accepted to be placed in his bed as usual, contentedly rolled over to get comfortable and...

BOOM. He fell out of bed onto the mattress on the floor. I could hear the poor, exhausted child startle himself awake with a scream. He was tired enough to allow a couple more attempts, but it soon became clear he just wasn't ready for the big boy bed.

And that's how we found ourselves -- or rather my husband found himself, as I read le Petit his umpteenth bedtime story while in tears -- reassembling an Ikea crib at 3 o'clock in the morning.

He's been back in the crib ever since. We covered the floor with blankets, pillows as well as a mattress, and we're reasonably sure le Petit is good enough at climbing out now that he won't hurt himself. We've also discovered that if we run into his room at the first squeak, he doesn't try to climb. The plan now is to wait until the apartment is sufficiently reassembled to find room to put a big boy bed in the room along with the crib, and then to aim for a gradual transition.

The last two nights have been peaceful. The work in the kitchen in advancing. Tomorrow is a holiday. I still can't see the floor in the living room for the plastic sheeting and appliances, but I feel like I can finally breathe again.


Inki said...

Ugh, that sounds like a painful night! I hope you got to sleep in in the morning :-)
Good luck with the transition when it eventually happens!

caramama said...

Wow. That sounds awful! I'm so sorry it went so poorly! A gradual transition sounds like a better idea for your guy. I hope everything is finished soon!

Bella said...

Eeh gad! Sounds awful! I was convinced I'd keep my boys in cribs until they were teenagers (I was just going to build ever-higher bars). I LOATHED the idea of putting them in "big boy beds" but finally had to cave at 3 years when the cribs were more like jungle gym equipment. I can't say the transition was fabulous, but they did seem to sleep a lot less restlessly at that age than they did a year before, so that helped I think. Good luck with the next stage of the transition!

Oh! And my parents are currently in Paris and they were showing me the gorgeous spring weather through their skype cam... How I wish I could be there too. BIG sigh.

Anonymous said...

Urg - nights with no sleep are the *worst*. I can so relate (though for different reasons). Good luck!

(Possibly helpful, possibly annoying suggestions - maybe one of those mesh bed-rail things for the open side of his crib? It's lower than a crib side, but will keep him from rolling out. Or maybe a crib tent?)

Parisienne Mais Presque said...

Thank you all for your support!

@Bella - the weather here has been gorgeous until today, when I decided to put on a new spring outfit I just bought anyway. I've been shivering under my suede jacket at my desk all morning.

Oh and yeah, three years old was about when I figured we'd give up the crib, initially. The best laid plans...

@Aubrey - I think one of those mesh bed rail things will ultimately be part of the solution, but not with his current bed, alas. Once we get the big boy bed, though, that could work great!

The crib tent things kind of scare me (heard a horror story of a kid getting hurt trying to undo one) and I think they'd probably just make le Petit angry.