“Your kid sleeps in your bed? OMG, I will never ever ever do that!” – That’s a flashback to opinionated pre-kid me, the ‘me’ I’d now like to slap into silence and submission if I ever got the chance. That me was so full of judgement, with a long list of items I swore blind that I would never do as a mum. But as I’ve learnt on my motherhood journey so far, being smug and opinionated about anything means that one day soon the sproglet will pull a fast one on you and you will need to eat your words for breakfast.
Co-sleeping was not something we even considered doing. It just was NOT an option. Among the thousands of baby related topics I’d waded through in the lead-up to welcoming our son into this world, co-sleeping did not even make the cut at all. No, no siree!
So resolute was I about this, that I knew that even though I planned to breastfeed for as long as possible, I was adamant it would not be taking place in my bed. In those last few months of pregnancy, I went to great pains to search for the perfect rocking chair for the nursery, which I figured would serve as my base camp for late night feeding sessions, just like it showed on Pinterest. Oh you silly, naive woman. That lovely antique rocking chair (eventually loaned to me by my brother – thank you bro!) stood vacant and unused in the nursery for months, more of a bulky obstacle than anything. I might have sat on it twice, max three times, to nurse. The rest of the midnight/ 3am/ 5am/bloody all day action took place in our bed, which was way easier and enabled me to be comfy and get back to sleep most times.
However I mostly always returned the baby to his cot, because duh, we did not want to develop “bad” habits.
Although in hindsight, I’ve found more than enough photographic evidence to illustrate this was not always the case!
I can’t remember exactly when the wheels fell off, but somewhere around a year, with Ryder sleeping through the night for the past few months, we gave in to pressure to switch his cot into a big boy bed. Big mistake. Huge. Because it was just too early to make that change and kiddo was not ready for it. It set us back, and suddenly my good sleeper regressed into a sleep walker, padding over to his sleeping mum at all hours to stick his fingers in my nose and to ask if he could climb into bed with us. I gave in most times. Because one is not the most resolute at 3am, people.
The Hubster had then set a target that by 2 years old, Ryder needed to be out of our bed. I fully agreed. I couldn’t actually wait. If you’ve ever slept with a 1 year old, you’ll know they make dreadful bed-mates. All flailing arms and kicking legs and 360 degree turns. Not to mention all the weird, grunting sounds. The effect this had on my own sleep patterns was insane. I was as grumpy as all heck and surviving on many, many nights of just a few hours of sleep, while my husband and son were enjoying blissful, uninterrupted slumber next to me. [How do dads sleep through all of this? How?!]
But then Ryder was going for his nip and snip in June, and boo hoo, how could we kick him out when he’d need us to comfort him? And then his 2nd birthday came and went, but it was winter and cold, and no way, how could we let him sleep all alone? So the new target date for his eviction became Christmas 2014, but that was when we weaned him off the dummy, so nah ah, it would be so cruel to give him two life shocks at once. Such were my excuses. And now here we are, 3 months before his 3rd birthday and we’re still one intertwined, messy co-sleeping trio at night.
Most nights Ryder and I retire to the bedroom while dad continues his Xbox gaming sessions. Ryder then declares: “I want to sleep on your tummy, mummy,” and climbs atop my jelly belly while I’m lying down, snuggling into my chest just like he did as a baby, and that is mostly where he falls asleep each night. After a hectic day at work, those few minutes calm me down as much as they calm him.
There have been a few attempts (ahem, less than 5) to relocate him to his bed over the last few months, and sometimes he does really well and makes it to around 4 or 5am before he comes over to find us in the dark.
But most nights we really don’t even bother to try putting him anywhere other than what has now become the family bed.
They grow soooo fast. With every new milestone I am ever mindful that his need for us, for me, will not last forever. As a working parent, I treasure that extra time I get with him, even if it’s just while I creepily sleep-stalk him with him passed out next to me.
Now that his crazy fitful sleeping has calmed down heaps and he doesn’t do all that kung fu kicking any more, it is actually so lovely snuggling up to him.
I’ve since discovered that co-sleeping is actually a big thing and that there are firm advocates for it across the world, especially among the wave of pro-natural or attachment parents and even celebs. There’s a lot about attachment parenting that appeals to me.
When a fever hits him, I’m aware and I can take action immediately. Breastfeeding and co-sleeping have strengthened our bond immensely (maybe a little too much, because he is suuuch a mummy’s boy!). Ryder sleeps really well (apart from recent late night bedtimes – another blog post for another day), compared to his cot days of getting up every couple of hours and disturbing me.
The downsides include leaky diapers and an occasional urine-soaked duvet, and of course, since we’re all adults here, it’s pretty obvious that having a kid wedged between you is not really conducive to spontaneous “bunga bunga”. But then, neither is a kid on the whole, no matter where they sleep, period. My husband and I also get kicked in the head or the tummy regularly when Ryder does one of his windmill turns.
For me personally, the journey to here has been dotted with confronting my own preconceived ideas and making adjustments in my thinking around what I’d considered parenting taboos. If there is a next time to try this parenting thing, I will certainly be more prepared. I would definitely co-sleep or at the very least room-share during infancy when breastfeeding is so round the clock. But I’d get one of those nifty contraptions that attach onto your bed, so that the kid isn’t actually sleeping in your bed, but kinda alongside you.
I’d also pay less attention to what other people advise me or say is right, or wrong, including the opinionated person who lives in my own head! Co-sleeping, like everything else in parenting, is not for everybody. It is rough with a 1 year old, but it does get better and if it works for you, it just does and that’s fine.
What about you? How do you feel about co-sleeping? What is your policy on kids in your bed?