Thursday, October 8, 2009

Co-Sleepers


I have been wanting to write about this for a while. Some people use the terms, bed sharing, the family bed or just co-sleeping. Whatever its called the definition is something like; the family, parents and kids all sleep in the same bed. But in reality this is not really true, because for every family co-sleeping looks different.

Some co-sleepers only sleep with their infants so that mama can nurse on demand while the baby is still waking through the night. This provides the mother with more sleep than the mother-baby combo who have to get out of bed for night nursing. Another reason some people co-sleep in the beginning is to provide the infant with the same surroundings they were used to prior to being born. Its also a great way to bond with the newborn and provide constant security. It also allows early trust to grow between the parent and infant because the infants needs are met immediately. There are lots of reasons people pull their little ones in at night.

My husband and I would like to call ourselves "partial co-sleepers". Well my husband would like to say that we are no longer co-sleepers. But its not true. This post is about our journey of night time sleep since our daughter was born.

Before I gave birth to my daughter I knew I was not going to be able to sleep without her in our room. I had heard too many moms complain about traipsing around the house at night back and forth to baby's room checking on their breathing every time the monitor made a funny noise. Going back and forth for each feeding. I love my sleep, my goal once I am asleep is to stay asleep. I do not like my sleep interrupted. So the natural step for me was to have my baby as close as possible so that any interruption to my sleep would be quick. My husband on the other hand thought maybe the baby should not really be right in the bed with us but alongside our bed. Lots of families do this in the beginning, they use bassinets, or what we used an arms reach co-sleeper bed. The Arms Reach was a great compromise for us. We worked really hard to keep her in the little bed, but she was just so snugly and warm. And she loved sleeping next to her daddy. This I might say is one of the best treats of co-sleeping, baby-daddy bonding. Mom's lets admit it, we get an automatic "in" with our kids because of our boobs. Dads, sorry you can't nurse, and that my friends is the way babies like to be calmed. But with co-sleeping babies get that chance to snuggle with daddy and have their time.

Over the past 3 years we have had a lot of compromise. I have been thinking about our little journey of allowing Marin to sleep with us a lot lately because of some life changes that have happened to our family. We knew in January 2009 that Todd was going to lose his job in April. In mid-February we moved into some friends guest house to save on rent in case Todd didn't get a job by the end of April. This turned out to be a huge blessing because Todd was unemployed through the Summer. Now through the stress of our unemployment there was a huge blessing that we would have never seen coming. Marin and Todd got the spend a lot of time together and I picked up a lot of hours at the bakery, three births, and other random jobs that came and went. Either way, over the Summer Marin completely fell in love with her daddy. This is a very special bond between child and father that we now realize will probably carry their relationship through their lives.

Todd was offered a job in September and almost over night, Todd went from being available to Marin all day every day, to being at his "new office" all day. This has been a difficult adjustment for Marin. Yesterday when we called his phone and he didn't answer she cried for about 5 minutes "he didn't answer his phone!" "he didn't call me!". It was really heart breaking (she's also a bit sick this week so that makes her a bit more dramatic, but STILL!)

Either way, back to co-sleeping. Before Todd started his new job Marin was doing a really good job sleeping in her own bed. With the rare exception of claiming sharks were swimming on the floor and so she had to come into our bed because its higher. Last week when he started his new job I noticed her joining us in bed again. Sleeping in her "pot" (spot) in the middle, with most of her legs or arms somehow across Todd's face.

Co-sleeping for her was a way to reconnect with her daddy. I think had she not been allowed this flexibility we would have experienced different behaviors like, acting out, crying and quickly frustrated, melt downs for no reason. Of course now we are working on encouraging her back into her bed. Some nights she stays and other nights she joins us.

The past week she has been sleeping in her own bed all night and joining us about 6am and falling back to sleep for an hour or so. This is a great compromise for all of us because not only does she feel like she gets to be with us, but it allows Todd and I a full night of sleep without feet in our ribs. It also allowed all of us to cuddle together before daddy leaves for work. And in all honesty, waking up with your baby sleeping next to you (no matter how old your baby is) is such a wonderful moment of the day. Seriously all the frustrations from the day before just go away when you see your little one sleeping. She's just so warm and beautiful and sleeping like there is not a worry in the world. I just fall in love with her all over again when she's all fuzzy in the morning. Then just laying there talking about dreams and what we have planned for the day is such a moment to hold on to.

Each time we think she need to be in her bed more and able to sleep on her own, the reality is that I love having her little self stop in for a snuggle. The other morning when we were getting up we asked her why she came in the bed with us. Her response was "Because I didn't want to be by my self in my bed, I wanted to be with you."

here are a few articles on co-sleeping
How the Stats Really Stack Up
Night Nursing
Dr. Sears

1 comment:

Zhaj said...

Holli,

This comment is a little late, but I'm finally getting to catch up with your lovely blog! Anyway, I just wanted to say that I loved your level-headed presentation of co-sleeping. We, too, had a arm's reach but mostly Ian just slept in our bed all cuddled up next to us :) So sweet....I can't imagine those early days any differently :) Though he got too squirmy for regularly sleeping in our bed, I still love those moments that he joins us!

Thanks for this post :)