She was just about two-years-old when we realized the party was over. My daughter, who up until that point was the perfect sleeper, had developed a serious aversion to going to bed. And by aversion, I mean bloodcurdling screams in the middle of the night. At first, my husband and I figured some calming words and cuddles would do the trick. We were wrong. Her nighttime routine gradually became a hellish one. At first, we would get at least two hours of her sleeping before it all started. Then one hour. Then, it got to the point that we could no longer put her in the crib. Already the boss of the family, she was very particular on how she wanted to spend her night. She wanted to be on the couch and my husband would lie next to her on the floor. Yes, she would only go to sleep if my husband was next to her. On the floor. She wanted nothing to do with me, either. I couldn’t even get her into our bed at that point.
Sleep deprived and horribly overwhelmed by the situation, I began to look for a solution. My little girl had obviously outgrown her crib so I would get her a big girl bed. It was time. Yes, a big girl bed would be perfect! She loved Dora the Explorer, so a Dora bed it would be. It would be a wonderful surprise. The day the bed arrived, she shrieked with delight. After hours of putting the thing together (poor hubby), we all looked forward to a well earned night’s sleep. After a few days of no success, I decided to put a reward system in place. A full week of sleep would earn her a new bike. I came to her room each night, sticker chart in hand, serious as a heart attack. This was going to work. Miraculously, we did have a few sporadic full nights of sleep in her bed, but nothing consistent. With a new baby coming in a few months, she was regressing even more and I was worried. I had failed at this whole sleep thing. I was miserable and desperate. At this point, she would be sleeping on the couch next to my husband until she was twenty-five.
About nine months into our no-sleeping hell, our beautiful baby boy joined the family. Elated but overwhelmed, I knew we were in serious trouble. A new baby would only complicate matters. Why couldn’t this kid just sleep in her bed? What was so hard about this? One night, as I laid awake thinking about it, I came upon my answer. It had been right in front of me the whole time. My daughter was scared and wanted to be next to us. She didn’t like the dark, the strange noises and the loneliness that came along with the night. She was just like another little girl that I used to know. My sweet little girl was just like me as a child.