Friday, April 30, 2010

Sleep Deprivation and Bribery

Just over four years ago, Koray and I made the decision that I would nurse Ali and Omer. It was a joint decision, because in order to do so, we had to feed them every three hours around the clock from cups just a little bigger than a thimble for a month, which meant I had to pump every three hours for a month in order to keep my milk in. Ali and Omer were too little to nurse for the first month, but we decided it was what we wanted to do, so we did it and we don't regret it.

In order to nurse twins, and keep myself at least partially sane, we decided that co-sleeping would be best. So for the first part of their lives A and O slept with us every night so that when one roused hungry I could nurse one while still sleeping, and then roll over and nurse the other. It was the only way we saw that we could survive this thing called twin babies that descended on our life, changing it forever.

And up until seven days ago, we have been paying for it.

"It" being the decision to co-sleep because at the wise age of four, Ali and Omer have been co-sleeping for some time now. But the game has changed because no longer are they vulnerable little lambs, unable to roll over or argue or fight with their sibling regarding who gets to lay face-to-face with mommy stealing all of her oxygen. These are big boys, taking up space, who have a certain way they like to sleep, who wake up as soon as mommy gets up, even it is 5:00 a.m. to tip-toe downstairs in an attempt to get some alone time.

But the other day, after talking to another mommy about offspring and sleep issues, I realized I needed to crack down. I talked to Koray about it and we were a united front against two little boys who love to sleep in their parents bed. A united front, armory, and full on bribery was our strategic plan. We knew going into it that the troops would protest and try everything they could to keep the status quo, but we were determined and had a secret weapon: an ice cream party.

Ahh, the beauty of bribery.

We knew we had to have one tasty carrot because the tactics of the opposing team are fierce and calculated. The strategy you ask? Wait until you hear the gentle pat of a book hitting the bed side table, the click of the lamp and then waiting patiently until the mommy unit is asleep. Then attack, being careful to tip-toe, tip-toe into the room and stealthily slip under the covers, being extra careful not to rouse said sleeping mommy unit (the baba unit is usually crashed in front of the tv on the couch downstairs).

I only know this happens because a. I wake up every morning with two baby boys curled around my neck and legs not having any idea when they came in, and b. on one night of insomnia, I was awake and witnessed the stealthy attack. At first I thought we were being robbed again, but then the moonlight revealed a Thomas the Train pajama clad tip-toer, and I knew we had been beat. Koray and I are heavy sleepers and they had designed their war plan around this well-established fact.

One of my clever teacher neighbors suggested that I do what I would do in my class and teach them to stay in their beds, since after all, I am a teacher by trade. At first I thought that I couldn't make the leap since I teach teenagers who are a different animal than two four-year-olds. But I thought about it for a while, and realized that behavior modification through an incentive program might just work. So we made a chart with five boxes for each day, the last box colorfully decorated for the last morning where a 5th X means an ice cream party. Putting the X in the box each morning really seemed to up the ante. The first night, they each came in three times. Amazingly, my subconscious must have had it as well, because as soon as the pitter of pitter-pat hit the bedroom floor, I woke up and ordered them out of the room. The next night, they each only came in once, and for the last three nights they peacefully slept in their own beds. I have been feeling well-rested, more alert and on my game. I also realize I have been sleep deprived for way too long now.

So they made it five nights in a row of sleeping in their own beds, and we celebrated with ice cream sundaes.

The next carrot is a pair of bikes. Wish us luck.


  1. Good work, Annie! I am looking forward to news of the next big breakthrough.

  2. I love this picture of you two, you seem to be plotting something.