It began innocuous enough. After the initial transition, she'd creep out of her bed and turn up magically into my own. I didn't so much hear her at night, but I'd feel a warm lump turn up next to me, stretching over me at times and mistaking my face for a pillow (common misconception). If I'm honest, I didn't mind it. Her nocturnal visits were so rare, that her night time cuddles were appreciated. She's my baby after all, and she's looking less and less like a baby and more and more like a pre-schooler. I'd lean in to her body and cradle her, falling asleep together.
Then something shifted. We had family movie night and watched the Wizard of Oz. Big mistake. HT was a wreck. The tornado terrified her. The neighbor on a bicycle scared her. And then the witch! She barely held herself together. Not even the singing munchkins and Glenda the Good Witch could convince her that this movie was not shiny sing-song version of Nightmare on Elm Street. I carried her upstairs trembling and I pondered the long term psychological damage we had just inflicted on our wee one. I laid next to her in bed while she muttered "that's not a kids movie" over and over again like a kid with Turret's until she finally passed out. Then twenty minutes later, she'd wake back up again talking about how her parents should have know better. This continued throughout the night. And then the sun rose, and I thought it was over.
It was not.
What began as something cute and sweet at night became our bedtime musical chairs. Every night between 11 and 12, I'd hear first her door open, and then silence. And then just when I thought I had been mistaken, she'd appear at my face with her bunny at her side, whispering "Mommy, I had a nightmare." At first, we walked her back to bed, but then she'd be back between 1 and 2, and then again 4 and 5 am. These were newborn wake up times, not three year old wake up times. J and I became increasingly cranky. There is a reason that sleep deprivation is considered a type of torture.
Then we gave up. We'd haul her into bed when she appeared or she'd sneak in herself. Sometimes, I'd still be downstairs and I'd come up to my room and find her tucked in my bed with the lights still on, her head perched on the decorative throw pillows and her bunny clutched firmly to her chest like our very own sleeping beauty. I'd crawl in next to her, careful not to disturb her highness and prepare myself for the physical abuse of a three-year-old laying on my throat, neck, face, back, and knees. It was in month two of this craziness that Bean grew tired of waking up to find her little sister sleeping with us. Bean started showing up three nights a week. Thinking she was missing out on some great family time, she'd wedge herself between J and HT. Then the fighting started. Serious fights at 2AM about who had more blanket, who had the right pillow, who was closer to daddy, who makes everyone uncomfortable. The brawls that occurred were awful and ended with everyone in tears, and did I mention it was the middle of the night?
So I did what any other sensible human being would do. After Tweedle Won't Sleep and Tweedle Can't Sleep snuck into my bed and fell asleep, I crept out and slept in HT's beautiful bed by myself. J started sleeping in Bean's bed. And the girls, unbeknownst to the themselves slept quietly with each other.