Lucas isn’t the world’s best sleeper. Even the very first night of his life, when he was teeny tiny and should have been tremendously sleepy, he would cry the moment we set him down. Our sleep struggles continued, so much so that I only remember glimpses of the first months of his life. He woke up every two or three hours for his first five months and I seriously thought I was going to die. He would only sleep in a few places: our arms, his bouncy seat, or next to us in bed.
As he got older, we were able to work out various sleeping scenarios that although unconventional, ensured that all three of us got the sleep we needed. And up until a few weeks ago, that still included laying down with Lucas until he fell asleep at night. He has been a cuddler since birth.
The other weekend, Jaime took Lucas to the zoo. There was a new penguin exhibit at a zoo near us, and Lucas had never been there, so they decided to try that one out. In a stroke of marketing genius, you practically have to walk through the gift shop to exit the zoo. Naturally, Lucas wanted to go in, and almost immediately he saw a stuffed rhino he was pretty sure he couldn’t live without.
Jaime did a little quick thinking and decided if he was going to buy an overpriced stuffed rhinoceros, he would try to make it work in our favor. He told Lucas that probably, if he had a stuffed rhino that nice and cuddly, he would be able to get to sleep snuggling it instead of one of us. And then he held his breath…
Lucas thought for a moment, and then agreed! He said he was a big boy now and he would be okay getting to sleep with Rhinoey. Since the rhino already had a name and a purpose, Jaime went ahead and bought it. And wouldn’t you know, that night, we tucked Lucas in with Rhinoey, turned on his night-light, kissed him goodnight, and left the room. Just like that. After four and a half years of nighttime shenanigans, Lucas is putting himself to sleep.
It still seems surreal sometimes! I don’t regret the many hours we’ve spent helping him fall asleep. There were times when we felt frustrated and impatient, but overall we’ve enjoyed the closeness and were willing and able to give him that gift until he was ready to do it on his own. It takes some kids a bit longer than others, and that was okay with us.
I’m proud of Jaime for realizing Lucas was ready to make this transition, and I’m proud of Lucas for making it! We hardly know what to do with our newfound freedom. But no worries, we’ll figure something out.