Motherhood comes with a host of choices to make about what is best for you, your family, and your child. We at BurlingtonVT Moms Blog have a variety of moms who want to embrace these choices instead of feeling guilty or judged for them! In light of this, we have decided to begin a series called “Perspectives in Parenting” where moms from our team share differing opinions about a particular parenting topic. While you may not agree with every parenting style presented, we hope that some may resonate with you, and that we can all learn to respect each other’s decisions and support one another through this journey of motherhood! We are beginning our series, Perspectives in Parenting, with a look at co-sleeping.
Before MJ was born, I said I would never bed share or co-sleep.
I thoroughly enjoyed pouring over nursery layouts and crib choices online and picking out his crib. I pictured him sleeping soundly there with a mobile dancing above his head. Then he was born and my reality suddenly looked a lot different then I had pictured. He hated the crib. Hated it. He cried the second I tried to put him in it and would only sleep in 20-30 minute increments there. During our brief attempt at crib sleeping, I think he slept in it twice. (And once was for my mom, so I can’t even really claim it as a victory. He always slept better with her!)
Like a lot of newborns he wanted to be close to me at all times and slept best against the warmth of my body. Since I couldn’t sleep holding him, we needed some other options so we moved him into our bedroom in a bassinet and began co-sleeping. He was a “non-sleeper” and I was up with him several times a night. We were struggling with nursing and supply issues that necessitated me doing all feedings. It just made sense to have him in the room and I started reading more about sleep, co-sleeping and bedsharing. I was still unsure about bed sharing, so in the meantime I tried EVERYTHING else.
Every person I talked with about our sleep struggles had advice, but nothing worked and nothing felt right.
Then sometime around 4 months he started sleeping even worse if that’s possible. That infamous sleep regression combined with his first cold and no one was sleeping. I made the decision to pull him into bed one night and we both fell asleep and slept wonderfully. He was right there to nurse and I learned to barely wake to comfort him and nurse him. We made changes in our bedroom to be smart about bed sharing. I went down to one pillow for me, put our mattress on the floor, slept in long sleeves and kept the covers at my waist. I read that cold medicine and alcohol use isn’t recommended for bed sharing, so we avoided that. Which wasn’t hard for me since I was breastfeeding anyway!
And suddenly we were all getting more sleep and everyone was happier.
Since then, our arrangement has shifted and changed over time from a co-sleeper, to a crib mattress on the floor, a mattress on the floor in his room and sleeping part of the night there with him and several other combinations. Bottom line, 3 years later MJ continues to sleep in our room or in our bed for some part of the night. And finally, we’re okay with it. Honestly, I can’t imagine it any other way now! I have shared the sweetest moments with MJ upon waking and as he drifts off to sleep. Stolen kisses, giggles, snuggles and “I love you’s” that I’ll treasure forever. Both my husband and I love having him close by and we are convinced that we all get more sleep this way. It helps to have a husband that’s on board with it, because it does impact you both! We actually recently “tested” it. After several nights in our room due to family visiting, we tried putting MJ back in his room for the night and were up five times with him. Five trips into his room to settle him, five times our sleep being interrupted! So the next night we put him on mattress in our room and he slept through the night and so did we. With baby #2 on the way now, I know we’ll be starting her in our room in a co-sleeper and best of all we won’t be stressing and reading about sleep, but letting her guide us from there.