My daughter has never been a good sleeper. We know that. I spent a large part of my evenings and overnights during the first two years of her life nursing her to sleep and all night long. Even when she started nursing less frequently overnight, my husband and I took turns going in at night to put her back to sleep. It felt like a cycle that would never end.
Because of her poor sleep habits, and because I spent most of our nighttime hours with her, peeking in on her wasn’t something we were in the habit of doing because, well, I was usually right there with her. And goodness knows that once she was asleep, there was no way we were going to risk cracking her door open and waking her. Once my daughter was no longer nursing through the night, I came to love my video monitor, sneaking looks at it while my husband and I enjoyed a movie together downstairs, or glancing at it on my bedside table before putting my head down for the night. Though she was sleeping better overnight, I still never risked going into her room once she was asleep.
Our video monitor broke two months ago.
I’m not sure at what age other parents give up their monitor, but I definitely mourned the loss of mine once it was no longer available to me. I had become dependent upon my nighttime digital check-ins on my daughter but, not knowing how much longer we would have used one anyway, shelling out $100+ for a new monitor didn’t seem smart, either.
So instead, without the crutch of my video monitor and in the face of all logic knowing her sleep history, I created a new bedtime ritual.
I’m usually the last to go to bed at night; after my daughter, after my husband, and after I put in a few hours of studying. When the house is dark and quiet, I sneak to the end of the hall using only the light of my phone as a guide. I know exactly how to turn the 75-year-old door knob to my daughter’s room so I do so quietly; I know how to push down on the knob just so, so the old door is moved down and away from the jamb just enough so it doesn’t squeak when I push it open.
Now that she’s in a regular bed, I’m able to reach my daughter’s warm cheek, instead of being just out of reach when she used to lay at the bottom of the crib. The crib rails aren’t in my way of access to kiss her usually sweaty-despite-the-AC forehead. And unless she’s migrated to the end of the bed, a habit she hasn’t yet broken, I’m free to pull the covers back over her sweet little body.
This habit is infinitely better than the monitor. It’s my one last way to sneak in a bit of love for the day, whether she’s aware of it or not. I want her to know I love her always; even at the end of tough days. Even after a long, late evening when I drop into bed just hours before she’ll wake me in the morning.
My video monitor habit couldn’t have lasted forever, but I hope this one can. I’ll never want to stop giving my daughter just one more kiss.