A Room of Her Own

Gizmo and Matilda in cot

Two weeks ago, Matilda moved into her very own cot in her very own bedroom (Gizmo has since given up on it).

The official advice is to keep babies in their parents' room until they're six months old (she was - still is - five months) but it just wasn't do-able. She outgrew her crib a little shy of three months and had gradually moved from coming into our bed around midnight every night to sleeping on our bed all night long.

There isn't enough room in our bed for three people (and a cat) - not even when one of them's a baby. And it didn't feel very safe.

A few people suggested buying a travel cot to put in our bedroom as an interim measure but, frankly, we've bought a lot of baby gear and we can't justify spending money on something which we can so easily do without.

Anyway, explanations out of the way: two weeks ago, Matilda moved into her own room.

We did have a strategy for this. I had spent the previous couple of weeks getting her to nap in her cot at least once a day so that it was familiar; I had also made a point of playing with her in her room each afternoon so that it was somewhere she knew she liked being.

We had been trying to work up the nerve to move her every since she started sleeping on our bed but we finally chose that weekend because my mum was coming to visit Monday-Wednesday and Steve had the Friday off work - if Matilda kept me awake all night, I could pass her to somebody else and retreat to my bed for a catnap.

It turned out that wasn't necessary.

We moved her on the Saturday night (we were too.damn.tired on the Friday) and that first night was pretty tough. She yelled us through every ten minutes until 2am. Was this what our lives were going to be like from now on?! For the rest of the night, her shouts were hourly. What had we done?!

On the Sunday, Monday and Tuesday nights, she bellowed once an hour. They weren't upset or angry shouts, though - there were no tears; she just needed reassurance that we were still around, should she need us.

And then, from Wednesday night onwards, she went back to normal (which is to say: who knows?!).

People keep asking me "how are you finding it?" when I tell them Matilda's moved into her own room and I fail to realise that they really do mean how am I finding it? Am I anxious? Am I checking that she's breathing every few minutes? I start to tell them how long she's sleeping for and don't tell them anything about me.

It's odd, early motherhood, when your life is so focused on this tiny other person that you forget to also focus on yourself. Your meals are scheduled around her meals; your sleep is shoved in around hers; your answers to every question are centred around the baby. I could write a whole post about the ways in which I'm the same person I was before Matilda was born and the ways in which I'm not - in fact, I've had it pencilled in my calendar since mid-pregnancy; I just haven't reached the designated day yet and, besides, haven't worked out exactly what I want to say.

But, for the record, I'm finding this latest milestone to be a positive step. Tiring, yes - because, good grief, getting out of bed at 2am to pop her dummy back in is hard - but my body aches less for being able to stretch out in bed; getting in and out of bed is easier without the fear of waking the baby; Steve and I can... eh... hold hands again. It gives me a little bit of space back, a little bit of time when I can just stop.

And I'm not obsessing about her safety. I wonder if it's easier for me because we spent her first few nights apart? But also, she's big and she's strong and we've found her with her lovely knitted blanket (made by Elise) over her head so many times we know that she can breathe through it. And she seems to be loving having the space to stretch out, too.

A Room of Her Own: Matilda sleeping

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