Baby Bird Needs to get out of the Nest

     Since day one, my little one always wanted me very close.  I have basically always been at her beck and call.  Of course it's something I was forewarned about,  "Put your baby down," "Let her cry," "She'll learn."  She came with me everywhere I went when she was very small.  Our first home was an apartment on the third floor and I used to carry the baby and the large stroller and let the dog run ahead of us when it was walk time.  Down the stairs we would go and then back up again - thank God I had the energy when I was 26-years-old.  When she was big enough, I left the stroller behind and put baby hang around in the Snugly.  She was content with her little soother in her mouth and the dog happily in tow.  We've always been quite the team.  I have to say, my dog Finnegan, who is ten and a half years old now has had to learn a lot of patience over the years and he has learned to always stand back and let Emily be taken care of first.  He loves his walks though.  Our walks are a freedom time for both of us.  Now that Emily is eight and a half years old and his walks usually don't happen until after she's been taken to school in the morning.  She is a bit more stubborn about getting out for walks now, and to her it is sometimes a real chore to take him out.  She doesn't remember how understanding Finnegan always was to her wants and needs.  So I believe she needs to give back a bit to him.  When I can get her out the door our walks are fun.  It is a nice bonding time where she opens up and chatters away skipping and taking in the fresh air. 
     Co-sleeping began very early on.  I was so tired.  Nursing approximately 20 times a day-at least.  And then I would take her upstairs to her nursery at night to rock her in the chair, play some Baby Mozart Cd's and get her to sleep.  I don't think I could ever get past putting her in the crib before she was asleep.  Once she was well into a slumber of sugar-plum fairies and resting like a beautiful sleeping baby in my arms, only then could I attempt to place her in the crib.  Then POOF-her eyes would jet open and she'd look at me like, "Where are you going? I hope your not leaving me here, cause that's not going to happen."  So I would pick her back out and bring her back to our rocking chair and start over, rocking and nursing.  Anyone who has ever nursed a baby can relate when I say I would begin to feel as though I was being pumped with Valium and I would drift off into a slumber, never to return downstairs in the evening to finish a movie that her dad had started watching without me.  I would awaken in the middle of the night and by that point the little one is literally hanging off of me and I'm still holding on but my neck would be cranked and so sore.  Only then would she be in a deep enough sleep for me to place her in her quarters and I could sneak into my own bed for a few hours until she would call again like a mad little cat who didn't want to be alone.
     It only took a few months of the unrest full nights, before I realized I needed to get some sleep.  My bed was so much more inviting than the rocking chair, and her dad fell asleep on the couch just about every night watching the T.V.  So the bed would be empty all night most times.  So I started to bring my little baby into my bed, adjusting the pillows in a very safe manner.  At that point finally I was able to rest and even though some friends would say it wasn't safe to let a small baby in your bed because she could be smothered, I knew she was safer there than hanging off me in the rocking chair. 
     Eventually she got big enough to kick, and apparently it made it very uncomfortable for her dad in the bed and he eventually moved into another bedroom.  I would still try to get her to bed at night in her own bed, and still do, but every night she would call or jump and now walk with pillow and blanket in hand and make her way in with her little pack, because of course, Finnegan was there as well.  Even though I am an only parent now-and dad has been gone for several years, my bedroom far from a lonely place.  When I wake up in the morning I have my daughter snogging away beside me, my dog at my feet and a cat or two staring me down, purring loudly, waiting for me to get my lazy but out of bed to feed them.  I have grown accustomed to this routine that is into it's ninth year now.  Quite honestly though, I have never slept better in my life than I do now, now that I accepted and caved allowing my nest to be open to the whole "fam damily" just so I can have a full night's sleep.  However, I probably wouldn't have been this lenient about it if I had had a partner to share my bed with.  
     So what do I do?  I have offered to switch bedrooms with my daughter saying that she may actually sleep better I my room and if that is the case I could switch her bed to my room and she can have the room.  But, I'm wondering if all that work would end up with her back in my bed- because I am sure it would. Or I could do as the doctor suggested would happen and just give her my bed and all and maybe just get myself a new bed, that may be helpful at this point in the game.  But, I think what it comes down to is that if I want my little one to stop coming in my room by the time she is a pre teen- then it looks like I am going to have to get tough and maybe still have to go back to the sleepless nights and actually get out of bed and take her back to her room whether she likes it or not.  I have to get tougher about this because recently after having this epiphany of how long this has been going on- I realize that there are other things coming into play.  She has me at her beck and call still.  We spend so much time together and I have caved so many times that she probably feels she is in charge.   The fact that it is just the two of us and she is an only child, she gets away with it.  But now I'm certain that I have to help her grow out of it as it is going to fall on my head and really it's no body's fault but mine.  The mother guilt will kill me if she is 20-years-old and insomnia is setting in because her mother never taught her how to get to sleep.  Then, there will be psychiatrist appointments and sleep therapy.... So I will make this my duty- my mission, my focus- that the nest needs to be swept clear.  To make room for myself and a brighter future for her.  As independent as my little chic is the sleep issue has to change.  I have to get more strict about this and be ready for the rebuttals-  Maybe I should drink a coffee before her bedtime so I can do this.  Give me a month and we will see how far I've gotten.  I will try not to be too hard on myself- but really I do recommend parents to teach your baby's to sleep in their cribs when they are new born unless you want to go through a life of kids knocking down the door every time they cannot sleep for the rest of your life.  
    

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