When I was pregnant with Truman, there were certain parenting things I knew I wanted to do, like breastfeed. There were certain things I knew I did not want to do, like let my baby “cry it out.” And then there were things that I didn’t really have strong feelings about either way, just because I didn’t know this baby yet and I didn’t know myself as a mother yet. Co-sleeping was one of those things. I never planned on having a baby in bed with me, but I never planned to not have a baby in bed with me. It just kind of happened that I have babies in my bed, even three years after that first set of two pink lines showed up.
It all began on our first night home from the hospital. We brought Truman into our bedroom and I placed him in the crib that sat three feet from my side of the bed. I threw on my pajamas, turned off the light, hopped under the covers… and started sobbing. I couldn’t see him. I couldn’t feel him. I couldn’t hear or smell him. I placed my hand on my belly and wasn’t reassured by a hard, round rump pressing into my ribs. He was here now, but he wasn’t here. Being in that crib, three feet away, he may as well have been on the moon. Mike tried to comfort me, he tried to assure me that Truman was fine, that he would not stop breathing and no boogey man would come snatch him in the night. I just couldn’t relax. I got up, lifted him sleeping soundly from his crib and tucked him right beside me in a little co-sleeping bed called a Snuggle Nest. I curled up next to him and rested my hand on his tiny belly, feeling it rise and fall with each silent breath, and I went to sleep. What other mammals can you think of that sleep far away from their newborns?
There was no turning back. Soon, Truman outgrew the Snuggle Nest and just began sleeping next to me. He would seek out a breast in the middle of the night, latch on and nurse without me having to get up. I would wake here and there to help him or check on him or just to nuzzle his neck and pull him closer. I could open one eye half way and instantly feel at ease knowing that he was breathing and no boogey man had come to snatch him in the night. He moved out of our bed around eighteen months old and sleeps in his crib, in his own room from 8:00 pm to 5:30 am every single night. He goes to bed easier than any child I’ve ever seen. Maybe it has nothing to do with co-seeping, but I have a hunch that since night time has never been, “alone and scary time” he has nothing to fear about going to bed. If he cries in the night, he knows one of us will be there in seconds. There is no nighttime anxiety. Now, he is also my first child and this may not be the way my subsequent children behave. I am also fully aware that he may go through different stages along the way, and some of those stages may include difficulty falling asleep. In any case, I think co-sleeping has given us a pretty decent head start on sleep issues.
Grant now occupies the space beside me in bed. He is a snuggler and a grasper, often reaching out and grabbing my shirt or my hand in the middle of the night. He too makes soft little grunting noises and roots around when he needs to nurse. I usually wake twice to feed him, but both times I am able to stay mostly asleep while I pull him close and help him latch. He wakes me with soft sounds, root and lip smacking, not the upset cries of a very hungry boy who’s first cues have been missed.
Neither of my babies have ever cried in the night for milk. Unless something major is wrong, night time at my house is very quiet. There are no screaming babies every 2-3 hours because I’m aware of their needs before it ever gets to that point. That has allowed all of us to sleep better, return to sleep faster after a feeding and I don’t worry about Grant waking Truman up. Anyone who has ever had a toddler knows that having one awake at 3:00 am, well, sucks. So, it may not be for everyone, but co-sleeping is certainly for us. One day I’ll probably have to beg my guys to snuggle up for a minute, I’m taking advantage of all of the cuddle time now. Are you a co-sleeper?