That’s how it started. Followed by a quick pitter patter of little feet. I didn’t make too much of it at the time, not knowing that it marked the beginning of several days of misery for Mommy and me and our darling not quite two-year-old youngest boy.
I’d been working in my office, just down the hall from his room when it happened the first time. I heard Mommy hurry to his room and make sure that he was alright, followed by a stern warning that he was not allowed to climb out of his crib. He’d never done it before, although he’s always been more of a climber than his two older brothers. Last year before he was walking, he’d climb up on a chair to the kitchen table where he stood, giggling with glee as he bounced up and down. And he’d climbed out of the pack and play a few times. But not his crib. That was the safety zone where he had slept great at nap and bed time, hardly ever waking up since he was several months old. Why would he want to escape the comfy confines of Bah-Boom (his blanket) and Woof (his stuffed dog)?
Yet suddenly, without hesitation, he now would not be penned in. Within minutes of Mommy putting him back in his crib, Boom, he was hitting the floor again and screaming. More out of confusion than defiance it seemed, but a complete wreck none-the-less. This went on for the better part of an hour until I think we just called off the nap for that day. Probably just a one-time thing we told ourselves, heeding the advice that I regularly doled out to new-parent friends that they shouldn’t get too worried about new phases of their little one’s behavior for it usually moved on to something else as quickly as It came. (Always easier to tell others than apply to yourself I should point out!)
Except that it didn’t stop. That night, he screamed. And climbed. And fell. Constantly. Somewhere in the hours just past midnight, we gave up and brought him into our bed so that we could all attempt to get some sleep. Which we still didn’t get much of. Did I mention he had a cold? Or maybe teeth coming in? Which meant that he woke up and fussed every five minutes or so. And when he wasn’t waking up, he was snoring or kicking Mommy. Not a good night.
The next morning, Mommy decided that she’d had enough and deployed the modern day mother’s equivalent of sounding an air raid siren – she placed a frantic post to her gaggle of experienced mothers of young children friends on Facebook for some desperate advice for what to do with our crib-jumper. “Get a Crib Tent!” came the hearty refrain, echoing through cyberspace with the power of a thousand nannies. So a hasty order with expedited shipping was dispatched online and we all sat by the windows in bleary exhaustion, scanning the horizon for the FedEx truck to arrive.
The morning came and went with no sign of the tent delivery and Mommy was resigned to spend the early afternoon in the nursery while our young David Copperfield refused to lie down in his crib. Finally, as the light slowly faded from the sky, the doorbell rang and we all rushed to receive the blessed package that promised our deliverance. With tears of joy in her eyes, Mommy marched up to the room and assembled the crib tent, not even bothering me from my work at my desk down the hall. I breathed a sigh of relief knowing that things would be getting to normal again. But when I heard her shriek a short time later, I knew that all was for naught as the long-awaited crib tent did not fit. Alas, it wasn’t designed for a convertible crib. And we were back to where we started.
I was then given immediate instructions to break out the drill and screw drivers and take his crib railing down and convert it into the toddler bed. Never mind that we had planned to wait much longer to move him out of his crib, I was told. Desperate times called for desperate measures! So after about 30 minutes of rounding up the right crib parts and removing and replacing a half dozen screws and bolts, I announced that the new bed was ready. With much pageantry, we brought the blessed child up to his room to inspect his “new big boy bed”, to which he laughed and began climbing on and off of the mattress. We breathed a nervous sigh of relief, convincing ourselves that this would surely work and make him (us) happy.
We put the boys to bed that night with high expectations. Even as he got up every few minutes and poked his little face out from behind the door, we reasoned that this was natural for the first time in this type of bed. We’d (lovingly) scold him and place him back in his bed. “This is your new bed buddy,” I told him. “Dada…Up…Now!” he shouted back. This didn’t look promising. I’ll spare the back and forth other than to say that Mommy spent most of the night lying on the floor on a few blankets next to his bed and arose none-too-happy the next day.
Mommy was (conveniently) out with her girlfriends the next evening, so Daddy was in charge of wrangling the child into his bed. He actually stayed put and quiet until around 10:00 when I got ready for bed and put a gate up in his doorway to keep him from exploring the house during the night. I drifted off, suspecting that I heard him fumbling around in his room and with the gate at his door, but I wasn’t overly concerned since he was gated. Around 11:30, I heard Mommy come home only to let out a gasp when she reached the top of the stair. Our son’s blond hair and pale face was staring out from his doorway, like a ghost faintly illuminated by the bathroom nightlight across the hall. Half asleep, he looked like a weary sentry keeping guard at his post, clutching his “Bah-boom” as his only defense.
By nap time the next afternoon, we’d all nearly reached our breaking point. We were tired, our defenses were down, and we could feel sickness creeping in. With no place left to turn, we put him in his room and shut the door, praying that he’d finally sleep. The beast paced the room for what seemed like weeks, until suddenly he plopped down on the floor against the door. After a few minutes of unsettling quiet, Mommy crept upstairs and peaked under the crack of the door. His little face was staring at her beneath the door, eyes were closed, cheek pressed against the hardwood floor.
In moments like these, it is easy to feel like these things will go on forever. That there would be no more sleep, no more naps, no staying in his bed. I tried to think of ways I could rig his bed with netting and duct tape or bungee cords but Mommy convinced me that wouldn’t be safe. As if by God’s calling, Mommy decided to head out to the new Buy Buy Baby store that opened down the road a few months ago. Frankly we were starting to feel like WE were ready to say bye-bye to OUR baby after the week’s events (not really).
An hour later, when I looked up at her coming into my office, I was greeted by a surprisingly smiling Mommy holding in her hand a new crib tent that was specifically made for convertible cribs. (I won’t mention the fact that I’d previously suggested that perhaps they made different types of crib tents.) So that evening before dinner, Daddy was once again dispatched with his tools into the nursery, this time to remove the now-forsaken toddler bed and bring back the crib that we had once loved but now feared. To my surprise, it went back together, and the new tent seemed to fit snugly, looking a bit like a snowy peak at the top of a square mountain (I was tired).
(very) Long story short, he’s spent 3 nights back in the crib with the new tent holding strong. And while he is still waking up a couple times a night in his slightly adjusted surroundings, he hasn’t tried to get out (he can’t) and our overall sleep has greatly improved. (Until, that is, I just flew out to San Diego and took the red-eye home – now I’m exhausted again!)
I suppose that someday we’ll look back on all this and laugh, if for no other reason than because we know this is our last trip down this stretch of road with a young one. With three boys, we’re learning that there are different dips and dives with each child, and that somehow we manage to make it through. But the next time I take that crib apart, it is not going back up!