Q&A: transferring to twin bed with a whole lot of complication

Maggie writes:

"I have a 27 month little boy who is going through lots of changes,forced on him by his expecting parents.  I'm 7 months pregnant next week, we just bought him a twin bed with all the bells and whistles and he's been in it for naps and bedtime for 3 weeks.  All 3 weeks have been different, the first week was great, no issues, just a dragged out storytime, cuddle time scenario and then down for the count.  The next week was a little easier, like he was getting used to the transition from the crib and had no issues.  Then came the week from hell which was last week, here's what's been happening, I'm literally at my wits end:

*Screaming, shaking trembling child shows up in our room asking to crawl into bed
*I give up immediately as I'm a big pushover, pregnant and just plain tired
*Husband gets up very early so as the week progresses he moves into the guest room, no help to me for that part
*Naps become insanely impossible, will not sleep without me, I'm having trouble laying in a twin bed with him due to my size
*Two days I found myself screaming at my 2 year old and it really upset me to know that I had lost control
*One of the two days I lost control, I ended up holding the door handle so he couldn't get out which made me feel even worse!

We then installed a gate in his room on Friday and everyone had a good night's sleep.  Saturday he scaled the gate and came back into the room and then last night we put a gate on top of the other gate in which he preceded to climb.  Figuring he was going to hurt himself my husband took him into the guest room with him and laid down until he had to get up at 5ish.  The gate is obviously not going to work, I don't know what to do as I really don't want him in the bed because the baby is coming and will be sleeping off and on in the bed, bassinet, etc. I nursed 27 month old until he was 2 and plan to go as long as I can with the other one, so......

How can I do this without losing my mind?  I would really like to have my husband in bed with me, we are all so out of sorts, sleep-deprived and I'm super impatient to boot.  I need your help, I'm begging at this point as my girlfriends and family have given me a lot but I'm ready to install a lock on the outside of the door as he will not stay in the bed.  That seems so damaging to me, I mean he's my baby, have I pushed him into this too soon?

P.S.  We are also potty training...."

I'd say maybe every fifth email I get sounds really complicated and then at the end the writer includes a P.S. that unravels it all. This one is almost the ur-P.S. that makes the whole thing make sense.

You know that whole thing about how people want things cheap, fast, and quality? And you can have cheap and fast, cheap and quality, or fast and quality, but not all three? Well, I think in this situation you can have pregnancy, maybe bed-changing and pregnancy, or maybe potty training and pregnancy, but not bed-changing, potty training, and pregnancy all at the same time.

It's just too much. For him. And for you. You're all overloaded, and that's making him freak out, and you guys feel like it's super high-stakes. But it's not. I mean, what happens if he's not in a bed before the baby comes, but is back in a crib? Or what happens if he's still in diapers? There's no shame, and no medical reason for either one, so if this is causing you this much stress, then why on earth put all of you through it?

So. Pick either the bed, or the potty training, or maybe neither. If it were me, I'd back off both the bed and the potty training, because the pregnancy alone is probably causing enough anxiety for him. He's old enough that he knows something's going on with the baby coming, even if he doesn't understand that completely. Talk to him and tell him that you're going to go back to the way it was before in whichever area you choose. Talking to him and letting him know that you're giving him back whatever you were trying to change is going to help ease his stress.

If you do decide to keep working on one or the other, be really specific with him that it's about him, not about getting ready for the baby to come. And if you feel yourself feeling out of control at any point, that is a huge signal for you to back off because it's too much for both of you. You do NOT want to get into a battle of wills with a kid in which you end up physically forcing him to say in his bed. For one thing, it's the last thing that will lead to sleep for either one of you. But more than that, if you get into a cycle of control and dominance by physical size, you're building a pattern that devalues both of you. (Plus, he's going to be bigger than you are when he's 15, and then it'll all be over.)

If you can keep the change manageable, it's going to go better for you. I can't guarantee that he'll stay in his bed more easily if you cut out the potty training, because it might still be too much for him with his anxiety about the baby coming. But it certainly won't be more difficult to work on the bed issue if you cut out the potty training. You might find that he doesn't need to resist the bed and be in with you if the potty training pressure is gone.

People don't usually talk about "backing off" as a valid parenting technique, but it's a huge tool in controlling the situation (instead of trying to control your child). It's the least sexy but potentially most effective way of dealing with change, especially for toddlers. 

Does anyone have stories of making changes that didn't work the first time, but went better after you backed off for awhile to give your kid some breathing room?