Restful nights are gone when baby becomes toddler

Alison Berkley Margo
Aspen Princess

Fantasy: a big, empty bed furnished with high-thread-count sheets in a temperature-controlled, dark room with 24 hours to myself.

This relatively modest dream is, at least for now, totally out of my reach.

That’s what I was thinking when I went into Levi’s room at 1 a.m. last night. It also occurred to me that he’s making up for being such a great sleeper as a newborn.

When he was a baby, I used to gloat unabashedly about what a great sleeper he was.

“How are you doing?” people would ask, their faces filled with gentle concern. “Are you getting any sleep?”

“I’m fine,” I’d say with a shrug. “He’s sleeping through the night.”

“Already?” they’d reply, somewhat exasperated.

It made me feel like the girl who says, “I’m so skinny, I can’t gain weight no matter what I eat.”

Levi was a dream infant. He rarely cried and let me get plenty of rest. I not only felt relaxed, I was madly in love with him and blissfully happy. We had been simpatico throughout my pregnancy; I had no morning sickness and I felt truly beautiful for the first time in my life. That feeling stayed with me in those first few months — I knew we were meant to be together.

It appears as though those days are over.

A rambunctious toddler, Levi has boundless energy. He flips and flops around with it all the time, as if it can’t be contained in his little body. That was the one challenge of my pregnancy; he moved around so much I couldn’t sleep. Well, he hasn’t changed.

He now wakes up at least once every night, crying from the top of the stairs. “Mommy! Come here!” he demands. When Ryan tries to help me out and take a turn with one of these middle-of-the-night sessions, Levi screams in protest, “No, I want Mommy!”

I go into his tiny room and tuck him back into bed and rub his back until he falls back to sleep, sitting on the hard, cold floor. I somtimes lay down with him in his toddler bed, which is the crib lowered down without the bars on one side. It’s extremely small and a miracle I haven’t broken it with my weight. But still, I can only lay in the cramped space for so long.

At some point, when enough time has gone by, I give up. “Want to come in the big bed?” I’ll ask.

I know, I know. There are two camps who are equally passionate about letting your kid into your bed. There are the people who believe co-sleeping is the key to raising a happy, secure child and those who think you are completely nuts because you’ll never get the kid out of your bed.

I’m somewhere in between. I’m basically a realist when it comes to parenting. I believe real life usually doesn’t jibe with a philosophy about how life is supposed to be and will end up causing you a lot of unnecessary frustration and self-defeat in the end. I figure I’ll just wing it and if things get really bad, I’ll just ask Google what to do.

I also know I’m not going to be able to have another baby. I can understand why women with toddlers decide to have another — they miss their babies. Listen, we were insanely fortunate to get one. It’s not going to happen in this lifetime.

Because of that, I cherish every moment with my son knowing that this time is fleeting. That’s because everyone tells me this all day long, whether I’m in the checkout line at Whole Foods or waiting for the next teller at the bank. Hordes of older women, their expressions filled with a sweet kind of sadness will say, “It goes by so fast,” almost like they feel sorry for me.

I was dead set against co-sleeping from the start, putting my son in a crib as soon as he outgrew his little basket that we put him in as a newborn. He loved his room right from the start, so it wasn’t a hard transition to make. I want him to feel safe and cozy in his own bed, and it’s important to me that he has his own space and also that he learns to self soothe, to cope with the stresses that the world will undoubtedly cause him.

But when my little boy lies in bed beside me, his sweet breath on my face, I’m not going to lie. I love it. I love the closeness and like our pediatrician says, “He’s not going to go to college in diapers,” and he’s not going to cuddle with me forever.

Then he wakes up in the middle of the night, thrashing around, kicking us in the face, sitting up and yelling out loud (usually something like, “No, mine!” or “Stop it!”) and going bonkers, but he’s still asleep and therefore is inconsolable so your best bet is to try to dodge his flailing limbs and wait for it to be over. At some point he kicks the pug, who squeals like a pig with her frustration and starts tromping around on top of the covers trying to get situated so no one has enough blankets.

Long story longer, I’m not getting much sleep these days.

I’ve never been away from Levi for more than a few hours and think I might be ready for a little alone time with my husband. Would a weekend getaway be too much to ask for?

“Yeah right,” my mother-in-law teased. “Last time we took Levi so you could go out for dinner you came back after two hours because you missed him so much.”

I guess that’s where the expression “You can’t live with them, you can’t live without them” comes from. All I do know is it’s time to invest in some good under-eye cream.

The Princess really needs an eye lift. Email your love to


WineInk: The 2023 vintage

“2023 predicted to be the Vintage of a Lifetime in Napa Valley,” proclaimed the headline this week in a press release sent out by the Napa Valley Vintners, the trade organization that represents the growers and producers in America’s most famed wine region. If there is anyone more optimistic than winemakers, it is the group that represents them.

See more