At 2 years and 8 months old, my youngest child told me she wanted to sleep with her sister instead of with me, in a separate room away from my husband and myself.
Before this, we had been co-sleeping in the same bed since her birth.
First in her crib next to me, then eventually she shared our bed, sleeping between my husband and myself when she neared her 1-year birthday.
It was my choice to keep her close to me, one reason was for the ease of nursing her at night, which I had continued till a few months before she turned two.
But honestly, it was also because I wanted her physically near me. I loved cuddling her warm little sleeping body at night.
Then this happened.
I told myself that she probably felt that her mummy was no longer needed at night to soothe her.
So this is it, I thought.
The last bit of my children’s baby era was ending, the co-sleeping was the final part of their dependency on me for the past six and a half years of my life since my eldest was born.
All 3 of my babies had eventually grown up and now needed me less.
I had felt this way when I weaned her from nursing a year ago, and a similar feeling is felt now as we end the bed-sharing era of our relationship.
Looking back, we could have made this transition for her earlier as she had begun sleeping through the night a few months after she turned one, and we were already getting decent sleep by then.
Still, I wanted her with me and reasoned with my husband that since she was probably our last child, we should take our time with her before moving her out.
A part of me didn’t want to let go of my attachment to her at night.
While most mothers look forward to the day they get their independence from a needy toddler, mine was bittersweet.
On the plus side, since we got our bedroom back, my husband and I had regained more of our intimacy without her sleeping in between us.
Back to the day that she moved out, that night I cuddled her pillow to smell her scent on it and checked on her occasionally through the baby monitor, as she settled to sleep on her sister’s bed after some tussle with her sibling.
You’re being so sentimental, I told myself.
Maybe she will want to sleep with me tomorrow night? I thought.
But it was permanent.
She took the transition well and was happy to be sleeping with her siblings at night.
The only time she slept back with us again was a few months later when she was sick, and I wanted to be near her to monitor her fever at night.
That being said, we still have nights when the kids come over to our room after a bad dream or thunderstorms, or when they just needed us emotionally.
Our king-size bed then had to fit three, four, or even up to five of us.
To the mothers who are struggling with nighttime sleep with your baby or toddler, just hold on.
That day will come when you get your nighttime independence again. Some sooner than others.
I too have since moved on.
But on those nights when she creeps back into bed with me, I snuggle her as much as possible and savor the feeling of her warm soft cheeks and hair against mine.