between the crib rails.

Everett-65 I can’t remember when he started kissing us between the crib rails. My first memory of that is tucked somewhere in between winter and spring of this past year. We finished our bedtime routine of teeth brushing and book reading and dropped him into the crib as usual. He sat up on his knees, pressed his face against the crib rails, and said, “pup?”

The kid can say “truck” and “flower” and “cracker” clear as day, but a handful of words require their own Everett-translation, “pup” (kiss) being one of them.

Never the type to turn down kisses, Brett and I knelt down on the floor and brought our faces to meet his. His breath smelled faintly of Thomas the train toothpaste.

After that first night, kissing between the crib rails became part of the regular bedtime routine.

Every night we sit on the floor and yell, “Give us our pups!!” as Everett crawls back and forth in the crib giggling.

“Momma pup?” he says, as I take my turn.

“Daddy pup?” he says, as Brett takes his.

Sometimes he sticks his face in between every space from left to right, all seventeen of them, and we oblige. Back and forth, he presses his face against the cold rails, tiny nose and open mouth barely squeezing through. Sometimes I kiss his mouth, sometimes I kiss his nose. He’s not really picky about where I kiss, so long as my face meets his.

Sometimes he wants us to kiss everything in his crib. He holds up Elmo, and his Curious George doll, his disgusting blue blanket that he carries all over the house.

“Elmo pup?”

“George pup?”

“Gigi (blanket) pup?”

We kiss all of it, everything, every time between the crib rails. Pups for everyone.


We bought the toddler bed off Craigslist the same weekend we moved into our new house. A lady was selling it for $80, mattress included, and said it had only been slept on a handful of times. I believed her.

The bed looks good in his big boy room, there is no denying that. Every other room in this house still needs to be put together, but his room has art on the walls and twinkle lights on the teepee and a bright new duvet comforter from IKEA carefully tucked into the sides of the bed.

The bed. The bed where he will soon be sleeping.

Everyone keeps telling me you should keep a toddler in their crib as long as possible. That, so long as they’re not climbing out of it, baby jail is the best thing since sliced bread. And while I believe them, because containment is wonderful when dealing with toddlers who don’t always nap very long, I find myself rattling off Our Plan rather defensively.

We are having a baby in eight weeks! The crib is in the baby’s room! I can’t sleep train two kids at once! This is all part of the Big Brother Transition!

But the truth is: that bed has been set up for weeks and Everett is still sleeping in his crib because I am not ready to give up being kissed between the crib rails.

Forget Everett. Forget Brett. Forget the baby books and mommy blogs and stranger advice.

I am not ready.

I am not ready for this. I am not ready for two kids. I am not ready for my baby to not be a baby anymore, even though I know he isn’t one. I am not ready to have one child in a toddler bed and one child in a crib. I am not ready to let go of this routine, of his toddler breath and slobbery mouth meeting mine in between the crib rails. It feels like the last baby part of him, and I am clinging to it with closed fists like a kid holding a helium balloon in the wind.

Tonight is Everett’s last night sleeping in his crib. Tomorrow we plan to start sleep training in his big boy bed, taking advantage of the three-day weekend. I’m anxious, worried for him and what he will think, concerned he might be scared. I’m worried it will take four hours to get him to fall asleep and that Brett and I will kill each other in the process. I’m worried he won’t nap well. Let’s be real: I’m mostly worried he won’t nap well.

But what I’m feeling the most is simply bittersweet.

So tonight, with eight weeks to go before we become a family of four, in this precious time of transition and in-between, I am going to relish every last ounce of those kisses between the crib rails. I’ll drag it out for thirty minutes if I have to.

Pups for everyone.

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18 Responses to between the crib rails.

  1. Kimber-Leigh says:

    oh, this one really resonates with me. 🙂 our three kiddos are all almost exactly two years apart and transitioning to their “big beds” was so bittersweet for me too. our youngest spent an extra year in the crib because there was no one else who needed it…but on her last night in the crib, i took pictures of her asleep in it and cried, knowing she would be our last to use it. and to encourage you, 2 out of 3 of our kids kept napping well after the transition. my son would actually not get out of his bed in the morning or nap time until i came to get him…it was almost like their were invisible rails!
    Kimber-Leigh´s last blog post ..Back to School: 2014-2015

  2. Well, I think you reached into my mind and stole all these words. The bedtime kisses, the soon to be transition because of a new baby. So true all of it. I feel ready now but as it all gets closer, I begin to wonder if I am.
    Emily Burgess´s last blog post ..Rainbow baby

  3. Mariah says:

    Oh, you’re killing me. We’ve got baby #2 coming in the new year, and I’m feeling all of the feelings. Good luck tonight, mama, I’m sure you’ll find a way to still get your pups. It may even be a sweet new tradition that you couldn’t imagine, the same way you didn’t orchestrate the crib rails. He’ll still be sweet (once he figures out napping..!)
    Mariah´s last blog post ..Latest Update

  4. Holly says:

    What a beautiful post! My youngest is on the verge of moving into a toddler bed. She’s only 18 months old but she’s such a monkey, she’s already trying to climb out of the crib – so it’s time. She’s our last so I’m fighting the pending transition – I’m going to miss zipping her into her little sleep sac, kissing her through the crib rails, and catching the babies she squeezes through over and over while she giggles.

    Topher switched to his big boy bed two months before Ellie was born. Naps weren’t an issue but our bedtime routine became a little longer! Since he could get out of bed on his own he was back and forth from his room to the living room – “I need a drink of water!” “I need a hug!” “I need a kiss!” “I forgot to tell you that I love you!” It’s a new bedtime tradition 🙂
    Holly´s last blog post ..Date Night

  5. Lauren says:

    I had these same feelings with Raegan, but the transition went very smoothly for us (even naps!) so there’s hope! Plus, you’ll start a whole bunch of new sweet bedtime routines like cuddling in the bed with them. 🙂 Good luck!

  6. Oh man, this spoke directly to me. I can’t imagine Ethan not being the baby anymore and we too, are holding off on transitioning him because he still stays in his crib. But I know as our due date approaches, that it will be something we need to deal with too. Let us know how it goes!!
    natasha {schue love}´s last blog post ..We’re Having A…

  7. Kristi says:

    Oh I feel you, I had my doubts when I transitioned my guy to a toddler bed. He did surprisingly well. I found it helped to read him some books on getting a toddler bed (Elmo and Bernstein Bears). I felt I had to move him into a toddler bed though since he was climbing out of it on a regular basis. Will you be using the crib right a way for baby number 2? Could you maybe use the bassinet for a few weeks to give you guys more time to adjust to all of the changes?

    • Brett says:

      Hi Kristi – we’ll use the bassinet likely for a couple of months with Ev’s little brother so the crib will always be available if we run out of options. We’re starting this weekend because we’re hoping for a smooth transition but expecting it to take some time for him (and us) to get used to it.

  8. lacey says:

    this post brought tears to my eyes. the BEST kind of tears, mind you. thanks for sharing your heart so often here with us.
    lacey´s last blog post ..08.28.14 | FULL OF HOT AIR

  9. Vanessa says:

    Please don’t ever stop writing. You have such a way with words that it makes me feel all.of.the.emotions.

    Vanessa´s last blog post ..An Update

  10. Paulette says:

    This made me cry! Everett does this to dad and I when we babysit him at your house. He even pressed his little lips to the mesh on the porta crib when he spends the night with us at our house. These are the cute things that make Everett so sweet and things we will miss as he grows up!!

    Love, Mom

  11. Awh Ashlee, you kill me with these posts. So full of love and all the other feels, beautifully articulated. Good luck with the new bedtime routine, I bet it will still be filled with pups for everyone.
    Sarah-Louise B.´s last blog post ..Healthy Pasta Bolognese Recipe

  12. Callie says:

    Melt my heart! So beautiful.. What a gorgeous little guy. I love your honesty Ashlee. Such a heartfelt piece. Xx

  13. Mitzie says:

    We transitioned Kevin out of his crib at 12 months. He had been catapulting himself over its sides for 2 months. He was in bunk beds with Jeff and loved it! So he was 8 months out of his crib when we carefully took Brett out of the bassinet and placed him into the crib. One look at this scene and Kevin (who was only 21mos) screamed to reclaim his property. Back to the bassinet went poor Brett where he stayed until his head and feet were touching both ends. Finally, Kevin relented and we were home free. Good luck! It is a much easier transition when the little one in transition is jumping out of their crib anyway!

  14. Erin says:

    Oh my goodness Ashlee, what a sweet and moving post. It is amazing how bittersweet this whole Momma thing is! They just keep growing and changing don’t they? Sometimes I wish I could just hit pause and hold onto these moments. I guess the only thing better than a pause button, is waiting for that next sweet moment. Best of luck!
    Erin´s last blog post ..Outgrowing

  15. I so understand! My (big) small girl is so past being big enough to sleep in a big girl bed. She’s 3 1/2! She easily climbs in and out of her crib. But none of us want to change our sleeping arrangements, and with no baby on the way we just don’t. Her crib is in our room and I like her right there next to us. The one time she actually fell asleep in her big bed we carried her back to our room and let her sleep in her crib for the rest of the night.

    I know the change will happen eventually, but I’m holding out as long as I can.
    Doña Bumgarner´s last blog post ..Pinned It. Did It. Kid-Friendly Baked Donuts

  16. Monica says:

    Ashlee, this cracked me up because the word for “kiss” in Romanian is actually “pupic,” which a lot of people shorten to “pup.” Ev might be onto something…
    Monica´s last blog post ..Shopping Moratorium: Final Results

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