Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Confessions from the family bed.

It was never intended. In fact, I recall watching a spouse swap with my husband one evening where this one family were very earthy, basic folks. They had about 4 pieces of furniture maybe.. and they all slept in the same bed. Their son was 7. Dan and I, eyebrows raised, looked and each other and shook our heads. We would never even conceive of doing this.

Fast forward to the birth of our beautiful daughter - with her Father's large head. So large, she had to be vacuum extracted - 3 times! Because of the large bruise and wound on the back of her poor head, she couldn't lie on her back, and struggled to sleep. The lovely nurse told me the importance of skin to skin contact to speed her healing and showed me how to safely tuck her in on my chest, so we could both comfortably get some sleep.

Back at the house, I had a lovely little wicker bassinet set up beside my bed so I was able to conveniently check to make sure she was still breathing peek in on her in the middle of night with one eye. We got her all fed, changed and snug in her little bed. That lasted for all of 10 mins before the crying started. I consoled her, touched her, spoke softly to her... she would fall back asleep, and was up again 10 minutes later. This went on for about an hour, before I laid her down under the crook of my arm, with my head cocked over hers, breathing softly on her little head, and she slept, and slept. She needed my warmth and to feel my breath on her! As it turns out, we both needed the reassurance that we were both still breathing!! This is how it started.

At 7 months, I put the little monkey in her own crib, and the little monkey was caught teetering on the top rail at 8 months! (Yes the mattress was at the lowest level!! She was a climber!) So back to the family bed she came.

At 17 months, her little brother was born. I wasn't foolish enough to even bother wasting my time with a bassinet, I needed sleep. So I had one newborn under one arm and a toddler under the other. By the time Mister was able to roll, we had to move Muffin in her own bed for Mister's safety as a newborn.

I was able to nurse him much longer than Muffin, and there was no real deadlines or necessity to move him out of the bed. I hardly had to wake up to feed - it was so darn tootin easy.

Muffin slept through the night at 6 weeks, and Mister at 2 weeks - I give 80% credit to co sleeping. (20% to the fact that they were both big babies at birth.)

Moving forward, we have tried to move Mister to his bed. About every 6 months, we give it another go... and it always failed for one reason or another. The last time, the cat jumped through his window from the roof and scared the tar out of him.

We went through the phases of him kicking (I referred to it as the kidney massage!), sleeping sideways, upside down, and grinding his teeth (EEK).

He is now 7... and there hardly is a day where he doesn't wake up in our bed!

We are starting to force him to go to sleep in his own bed. We feel this is important for his independence and confidence. However, around midnight... he comes traipsing in with his blanket and pillow and wiggles himself into his spot in the middle of the bed.

I have to admit that I enjoy his cuddles. After 7 years, the bed feels empty without a child!

I'm okay with this arrangement. Why? Because I know this isn't going to be forever. I know one day soon will be the last time. (Sleeping with your parents becomes uncool at some age!!!) And until then... I'm gonna wrap my arms around him and hold him tight!


Katie said...

I love co-sleeping! It's one of my fave things and I feel ripped off if Owen spends the whole night in his own bed (rarely happens but is becoming more frequent). :)

Denise said...

I wish I could do this... I just. don't. sleep. sigh... But that being said, our oldest did start coming into our room at 3 when we moved him out of his crib and suddenly life became very scary, so we put a foam mattress on the floor in our room and he would end up sleeping there every night until our daughter was about to come home. There simply wasn't room for his mattress and a bassinet in our room, so I bribed him. He was just turning 6, and I gave him a dollar for every day he didn't come into our room... for a month. At the end of the month the habit was broken, and baby moved into our room :)