It’s that time again! I’m still really behind and have two more guest posts coming after this, I promise! Erin contacted me wanting to write a post about co-sleeping. Her story hits SO close to home, as I’m sure my readers remember! We co-slept with Boogie for a long time, and now at 3, she sleeps independently and actually prefers NOT to have any cuddles at night (how crazy is that?!). Our son is a CRAZY sleeper, so we have not continued co-sleeping with him, but even still, sleep has been a battle in our house. And as always, please remember that if you DO choose to co-sleep, do so in a safe manner! There ARE safety concerns when co-sleeping! The main causes of death while co-sleeping are from parents drinking alcohol, doing drugs, or taking prescription pain meds that place you in a lethargic state. You HAVE to be alert! Like Erin states in her post, mom’s have an inner alarm when it comes to our children, but if you inebriate that alarm… accidents can happen! Thank you Erin for submitting such an open and honest post… and as a sidenote…. sex doesn’t have to be out the window while co-sleeping, you just have to get CREATIVE! 😉
Nearly two and a half years ago, the hubby and I were changed forever by the birth of our son, Joshua Noah. Our little miracle instantaneously became the light of our lives, the holder of our hearts and the ruler of our roost. We knew the second we heard his first cry that we would do anything — literally, anything — for him.Little did I know that “anything” would include co-sleeping.
Joshua slept like a dream (no pun intended) in the hospital, and this beautiful stretch of consistent sleep continued for about a week after we brought him home. And then, one night, he woke up and started screaming. He screamed and screamed, for hours on end; milk, clean diapers, swaddling, burping, cuddling, rocking, singing and reading didn’t calm him down. Gas drops and gripe water were useless. Placing him in his swing didn’t help. Even the pacifier — which he would much later come to call “Beya” — may as well have evaporated into thin air. The longer he cried, the more I wanted to cry.
Eventually, I couldn’t take anymore and broke down, weeping and rocking and holding my baby close. Telling him that everything would be alright, and that I would figure out what he needed and fix it. The hubby took him from my arms shortly thereafter, sensing that I needed a little break and feeling that he might be able to solve Joshua’s problem. Gradually, Joshua did relax and return to dreamland, and I climbed back into bed; the hubby simply held me as I laid there, tears streaming down my face and leaving little wet spots on my pillowcase. It took a while, but I eventually fell back asleep too.
The sudden switch to spending half the night awake in a zombie-like state with a bottle in Joshua’s mouth was a rude awakening (pun intended). World News Now became my frequent overnight company; most nights I never even bothered turning the TV off just so my eyes would have an easier time adjusting when the inevitable wake-up call came. I learned to function on very little sleep, as most moms do, but I grew increasingly jealous of my hubby as I watched him sleep through every wake-up call, night after night. I wished he’d be the one to wake up to feed Joshua, but simply tapping him on the shoulder or shaking his arm was never enough to rouse him. (Sometimes I think he’d be a perfect addition to The Walking Dead.) After having a conversation with the hubby about this, he agreed to make a stronger effort to get up during the night to give me a hand or, at the very least, to keep me company while I fed and changed Joshua.
He got so much better at helping me that he started taking over some of the overnight feedings and changings. I could literally hear angels singing when he told me one night the he had it and that I should go back to sleep. (HALLELUJAH!) I fell back asleep in no time and slept wonderfully for the first time in months.
And when I woke up, I opened my eyes and rolled over to thank my husband and discovered Joshua, fast asleep, on the bed between us.
How long had he been there? Why wasn’t he sleeping in his bassinet, or his bouncer, or his sleeping chair? Was my husband completely insane? What if one of us had rolled over onto him and smothered him during the night?
I selfishly couldn’t fathom the idea of Joshua sleeping in our bed. Our bed. Hubby’s and my bed… not hubby’s and Joshua’s and my bed. Hubby already took up a lot of space in the bed as it was — he loves sleeping spread out — and Joshua may be small now, but he’s only going to get bigger. What if this continues? What if Joshua develops a preference for sleeping in our bed instead of his own? What was I going to do? All the parenting books I’d read said that babies should be sleeping independently in their own spaces… this went against everything I’d read and thought I’d believed. I immediately confronted the hubby and asked him not to let this happen again.
But it happened again. And again. And became more and more frequent until it was the new normal. No matter how hard I tried, Joshua would not sleep in his own space. When he outgrew the bouncer and the sleeping chair, I resolved to get him to sleep through the night in his crib. When he inevitably started crying, I would drag myself out of bed and hang over the side of the crib, placing my hand on his back and holding still until he returned to sleep. the minute I’d exit his bedroom and close the door, he’d be on his feet and screaming again. Let him cry, I told myself.
And cry he did, until he threw up. That was when I knew I was doing something wrong.Tough love was one thing, but allowing my child to scream until he gagged and vomited all over his sheets was not okay with me. This was a step beyond tough love; I knew that my six-month-old was incapable of purposely throwing up just to manipulate me. That was the night I caved in and consciously decided to bring him to bed with me. I knew that I’d rather have Joshua sleeping in my bed than throwing up every time I left him in his crib. Shortly thereafter, he started climbing on his crib rail and nearly hit the floor head-first (and he would have, had I not caught him just before his skull collided with the laminate).
With the help of my mom, we upgraded Joshua to a twin-size bed and dismantled the crib. Initially, he slept wonderfully in his new bed alone but after a week or so, he started to miss us. Even now, one of two things will happen; either Joshua will cry for Daddy until the hubby climbs into bed with him (and stays for the night), or he’ll just get out of bed, come into our room, and get under the covers between us. I know that one day he’ll outgrow this and want a whole bed to himself; while I look forward to the day that my bed becomes mine again, I know I’ll miss not having a little boy to cuddle with.
The moral of this story? Co-sleeping wasn’t as terrible as so many parenting books made it out to be. I accepted that this would be our best bet for everyone to get a good night’s sleep. We’d all be so much happier in the morning, I realized. We started allowing Joshua to sleep in our bed whenever he needed to, and now it’s our normal. Yes, you have to share your bed and no, your child isn’t sleeping independently. Yes, you have to be careful with a child in your bed. And sex, which may or may not have been happening before we started actively co-sleeping, went completely out the window. But has it been worth it? Absolutely! Everyone gets a full night’s sleep and much-needed family time (even though we’re all subconscious or unconscious, we’re still together, and much of the time we have skin contact, so it counts)!
I thought I’d hate co-sleeping; I thought it was the wrong way to get a child to sleep; I thought it was dangerous, frankly. But I’ve learned that parents, especially moms, have something like a built-in red flag that wakes them if they’re potentially endangering their children. I’ve never covered Joshua’s face with a pillow or blanket, or with my bod, and neither has the hubby. Everyone’s been fine, we’ve all slept fine, and we’re all happier for it.
Co-sleeping, I’ve come to realize, has saved our family a lot of stress and heartache, and for that reason I’m now a believer. I love co-sleeping!
Hi! I’m Erin, otherwise known as the Read-At-Home Mama! It’s nice to meet you! Books, dancing and sweets are my greatest weaknesses. After struggling with reading comprehension as a little girl, I mastered that skill and subsequently fell into a love affair with books that still carries on today. I have a friendly relationship with credit cards and chocolate — if you send me shopping, or give me a Hershey’s Special Dark Bar or a Reece’s peanut butter cup, I will love you FOREVER. As a child, I dreamed of becoming a ballerina AND (not or!) an author; when I didn’t find myself on Broadway or on the New York Times Bestseller List, I got a Master’s degree in Early Childhood Education. After a brief teaching stint, I discovered I was pregnant and Zofran became my best friend (and I will always know that whoever came up with the name “morning sickness” never actually experienced it in all it’s 24/7 glory). Two-and-a-half years ago our little miracle, Joshua Noah, was born, and this became my motto: “My heart resides in the library, my soul can be found in the kitchen, and my spirit is always stretching at the barre… but my happiness lives in my two-year-old.”