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Baby In The Big-Girl Bed

We’ve been working on finding a
permanent bed for Maddie for about a year now, if you can believe
it. Maddie was nearly two when Cora was born last May, and we knew
we needed to think ahead to make the transition out of the crib
smooth for her. I didn’t think Maddie was quite ready for a
big bed, and also didn’t want to remove her from the crib
only to put Cora in it; I was afraid Maddie would feel replaced by
the “new” baby. So timing-wise, we decided to buy
Maddie a toddler-sized air mattress to sleep on in her room while
Cora occupied the bassinet in our room, reasoning that it’d
be perfect for traveling to visit family or to use for sleepovers
in the future. We made a big deal about Maddie’s new
“big-girl bed” and how exciting it was for her to
“finally” be old enough to use it.

She started out using it just for naps,
but after about a month of choosing to go between the crib and air
mattress, Madeleine settled permanently in her air-mattress and
stopped asking to get into the crib. The crib lived unused in
Maddie’s room for a while before I started putting Cora in it
while playing with Maddie; it was handy to be able to plop Cora
down in a safe place, and Maddie got used to seeing her baby sister
in the crib. When Cora was around five months old (and frankly way
too big to still be crammed in that bassinet) we casually moved the
crib into our room and Maddie didn’t even comment.

We’d never intended for the air-mattress to be such a
long-term solution for Maddie; I’d thought we’d use it
for a bit until the crib got moved out, then put a real bed in her
room. But then the house got put on the market and a full-sized bed
meant a smaller-looking space, so we kept holding off. Plus, I
didn’t want to invest in a bed until we knew what sort of
space we’d be living in.

The one thing I was sure of was that I didn’t want to go with
a toddler-sized bed. I couldn’t use the mattress from the
crib in a toddler frame, since Cora needed the mattress, and I
didn’t see spending all that money on something she’d
only use a couple more years. My girlfriend Abby had put a
twin-sized mattress on the floor for her son to sleep on until he
was big enough to use a frame, and we figured that’s what
we’d do. We had neither a twin mattress nor a frame, but
thought it’d be a longer-term investment.

Then we spent a few weeks in a hotel over Thanksgiving, and Maddie
never once wanted to blow up her air mattress. She was entranced
with the idea of having her own hotel room and the king-sized bed
that came with it, and loved sleeping in the middle of it like a
princess on top of all those mattresses. With pillows buffering her
on every side, she’d go to sleep happily and never once
rolled off or expressed fear over the size.

So I scrapped the idea of a twin and went straight to a full-sized
mattress; we already had a headboard and frame I’d been
storing for when she was older. Before we left New York we picked
out sheets for her new bed (oddly enough, the exact same sheets
she’d picked out for her air mattress – my kid is
nothing if not consistent); a few days ago we went to a mattress
store to pick out the right mattress, and yesterday we assembled
the whole thing.

To be honest, Maddie was a bit apprehensive as she watched us take
her air mattress away, even though we’d been talking
excitedly for weeks about how she’d soon be sleeping on a
“new, high big-girl bed”. For all her love of new
things, my daughter is a creature of habit and change upsets her
unless she can find some soothing familiarity in the newness. So
seeing the sheets go on the bed calmed her down, looking as they
did exactly like her old ones. We lined up her favorite step-stool
by the side to enable our toddler to climb up on top of this
mountainous bed “all by myself”, and she sank onto the
bed with a look of sheer delight.

Which means that my daughter is now sleeping on her first
adult-sized bed tonight, under an adult-sized down quilt, with her
toddler-sized pillow under her head and a couple adult-sized ones
“protecting” her from the edge. She’s got her
favorite stuffed animals in their usual places around her head, and
looking at her lying there, her head on the teeny pillow and her
body dwarfed by the comforter and the sheer size of the bed, I had
a major “Sunrise, Sunset” moment.

When did my little girl get so big? And more important, are you
trying to tell me that some day soon she’s going to fill that
big bed all by herself? As much as she loves her stuffed animals
around her head right now, I know that there will come a time when
she’ll disdain their company and sweep them shamefacedly
under the bed. That’s going to be her bed for the next
fifteen years or so, and she may well take it with her when she
moves out. Which means that though my baby’s slept in three
different beds over the past two years of her life –
bassinet, crib, and air-bed – this is the one she’s in
to stay.

I look at that bed and know it’s going to be where I snuggle
with her at night before lights out. I’ll sit beside it when
she’s sick, watch her helplessly from the door as she lies on
it sobbing about something, and steal moments in the early morning
to spy on her and try to catch a glimpse of my baby in the teenager
she’ll become. She’ll cry, dream, throw up, moon over
boys, and, if she’s like the rest of my family, snore on that
bed. That mattress is the first piece of furniture in her room
that’s going to be in it for the long haul, and by the time
she and it part ways it’ll have quite a story to tell.

I know, I know, it’s a bed. Get over it.

You didn’t see my little tiny baby lying in that great big


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