Mystery of the Big Girl Bed!

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After our visit with Thomas the Train, things seemed to be going well until, like lightening, Atia was struck with excruciatingly painful side effects. We were still in the midst of her 5 days post chemo injection. During that time, she was forced to take so many poisonous medications. We had hoped, with our fingers and toes crossed, that she wouldn’t have to endure the vicious side effects this month. But, we never knew. Sometimes she processed the toxins without much reaction and sometimes (more than not) it turned out like this.

Horrible. Painful. Debilitating.

She sat stationary on the couch for two entire days. She only got up to go to the bathroom or nibble on food. She desperately cried out, “Mommy, rub my back. Rub my back! My chemo’s hurting me. It hurts, Mommy. It hurts.”

Her words cut straight through my heart. The pain, oh the pain… there’s nothing like watching your child go through that. We were victims of a horrible recurring assault; one which we could not stop. We begged for mercy, but it only ended after it’d had its way with us. When it was over each month, we miserably thanked our terrorist for releasing us from its clutches for a few weeks… knowing it’d be back to torture us again next month.

Though hard to come by, a good night’s sleep always held the key, unlocking the magical healing powers. After a really good, deep sleep Atia'd wake up relieved of the horrid symptoms, cheerful and ready for breakfast. And just like that, it was all over for the month. Those were fantastic mornings!

Again, we found ourselves struggling with missed milestones; this time it was the bed situation. Atia was 3 years old and potty training, but she was still sleeping in her crib. Steve and I liked knowing that she was contained and unable to get up and aimlessly wander the house, especially when she wasn’t feeling well. However, cribs and potty training are fundamental opposites.

How could we expect Atia to truly grasp the concept of going potty if she was sleeping in a bed specifically designed to trap her? We were encouraging her to tune into her body; to listen to it and respond accordingly when she felt the urge. She needed to have the freedom to visit the big girl potty at her leisure.

Yes, potty training was going so well that we knew the next logical step was a big girl bed.

So, thanks to the generosity of our friend giving us her daughter’s old bed, we made the switch. Steve and Atia tore down the crib and erected her new fancy toddler bed. Truth be told, it wasn’t new or fancy, but it hers and she loved it. She was so very, very excited!

We had hoped that her excitement would translate to blissful sleeping in her new digs, but that wasn’t exactly the case. In fact, it was the exact opposite. She ended up in our bedroom about a million times that first night. And then the second night. And then the third night. It was incredibly frustrating and exhausting. It got so bad that Steve and I actually toyed with the idea of putting her crib back up; we'd never heard of anyone actually doing that, but it didn't stop us from seriously considering that option.

This good-for-nothing new toddler bed setup was getting on our last nerve. All Steve and I wanted was a good night's sleep. We began cursing the whole concept of a big girl bed and kicking ourselves for thinking this was going to be one of those fluid, easy, seamless transitions.

I spent many, many hours wracking my brain trying to figure out what the H-E-Double Hockey Sticks the problem was - this behavior was so unlike her; typically, she took to these new experiences well and caught on quickly - and then, something clicked. A light bulb went off. Duh! How could we have been so incredibly stupid?!?

It was all in the bed. The direction of her bed, to be exact. It finally dawned on me that we’d set up her big girl bed all wrong. Her head was currently where the foot of her crib used to be, and the foot was where her head used to be. She was looking at the room from a completely different vantage point, making it feel unfamiliar and scary. She was no longer comfortable in her own room. She was seeing new shadows and dark, creepy areas.

After this genius epiphany, I marched straight over to her room and turned her bed around – head at the crib’s old head and foot at the crib’s old foot. That night, we tucked her in, gave her lots of hugs and kisses, and then held our breath, praying: Dear God, please tell us that this is the night. The night we’ll get to sleep uninterrupted. The night we pat ourselves on the back, praising our parenting chops, knowing that we solved the mystery.

We guardedly crawled into our own bed afraid that at any moment we’d be visited by our unwanted, but incredibly sweet, guest. Afraid that our theory would be blown to pieces, and that she'd be back in our room complaining that she couldn't sleep, asking to cuddle with us.

Turns out, that night there was no high fiving, no back patting, no big celebration because… we were asleep!

That’s right. We’d effectively cured the sleepy-time blues. Atia was asleep. Asher was asleep. Steve and I were asleep. It was a wonderful night! And so was the next one and the next one and the next one.

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