I got my first blog request.....kinda.....
Today a friend asked about my thoughts on cosleeping. I decided to blog rather than email because I have alot to say about it.
Way back when, in the day of Curly Top's only-childness, I had a huge bedroom with a crib across the room for the little bundle to sleep. I had a cradle in the living room for His Highness to nap, and I was all set to use them. Except, Curly Top along with my hormones had different plans.
I remember putting him to sleep in the crib on our first night home from the hospital. After the first few minutes of sitting, awake in bed, looking longingly across the room at that crib, I realized that I was having some serious separation issues. Once he awoke for his first feeding session (which lasted 45 minutes each, by the way) I tried to put him back, I really did, but we ended up sleeping in that rocking chair....for days this went on, until the hubz insisted I pump, give him a bottle to feed CT and sleep in my bed for at least a few hours. I couldn't sleep. I just missed CT so much that I couldn't relax without him. Then one morning, my neck was so stiff, my body so tired, that,I staggered over to my bed with CT in my arms and slept. We slept like the dead. We were good at it, it was perfect and things were looking up. At 4 months, we moved into a house that had a room just for CT. In went his crib and all of his things, and in went CT. Why, you might ask....well I bet if you thought about it you'd figure it out, but I'm gonna tell you anyway. Some well meaning mom told me how unhealthy it is to cosleep and told me about babywise.....yikes, I actually said it! I thought, oh Crap, I better go against all of my maternal instincts because this lady is older and wiser and has Triplets who sleep through the night! If her babies can do it them my baby is sure gonna do it too. I ended up spending my nights rocking CT in his room, back to sleeping in the rocking chair again because it was the was as close to sleep training as I could handle. I couldn't CIO, and cosleeping was 'wrong' so this was my mental middle gr. When he was 10 months old, I got prego with baby 2. I needed sleep, so we were back to putting CT to sleep in the crib, waiting for him to cry for me, then I would rock him in his room and put him back to bed once, then he would cry again around 4 and we would bring him in the bed.....poor baby must have been so confused! I also weaned him at 10 months when I found out I was prego because I thought I had to. I had no guidance from his Dr. but that's typical when it comes to breastfeeding. CT ended up drinking formula then cows milk from a bottle until he was 19 months because I felt so bad that I weaned him before he was ready.
When I was ready to deliver baby 2, aka the HeartBreaker, CT was 19 months old. The Heartbreaker was lovingly placed in a bassinett right next to my bed. CT's ritual was getting exhausting so he regained his rightful place between the hubz and me. I remember one night nursing Heartbreaker in my bed. CT rolled over and sleepy said 'josh josh baba', demanding that hubz get out of bed and meet his needs. Even he knew that I was busy and too tired to go downstairs to get him a bottle. Anyway...the four of us coslept for years, soon getting a king sized bed. There were no issues except CT had to be rocked to sleep for his naps and then placed ever so gently on the bed. Heartbreaker would nap in the crib or on the couch, anywhere really.
When Heartbreaker was two and a half i was expecting miss Pippi aka Pip. She was Jaundice so we stayed in the hospital for 5 days. While in the hospital, Heartbreaker developed rotovirus and was so sick! When we came home, we kept the same sleeping arrangements but with Pip in the bassinet. If you are trying to imagine the scene, by now we were a real freak show. Poor pip probably thought she was in an orphanage, there was so much action! Kids tossing and turning, newborns crying, parents waking up constantly, we were in rough shape. At this particular moment, my 12 yr old stepson decided to move right on in too! We were packin em in like sardines! Sooo, brief recap. Two adults and two toddlers in one bed. Infant next to bed, pre teen in other room. One empty room with unused crib and dressers.
We decided to make a bed on the floor in our room for the boys, dubbed 'the floor-bed', as in "i don't wanna sleep in the floor-bed, I wanna sleep with youuuuuuu". When pip outgrow the bassinet, she moved out of our room. She never slept with us and when I tried, she kicked and cried until I put her in her own crib. She slept through the night, and nursed once at 6 am and then slept until 9 or 10ish. Still, our nights were like a revolving door with the boys waking and wandering around all night. We would have to make room in our bed and once the fourth person tried to climb into our bed, one of us would take them and sleep on the floor-bed with them. One day, we decided to move the preteen into the smaller room, and put the boys in bunk beds in the big bedroom. Heartbreaker took the top bunk a curly top got the bottom bunk. The crib was dismantled and reborn into a toddler bed and pipi moved into the big room with her brothers. it was a crazy adjustment with lots of 'im scared''s and 'he/she's bothering me'. It was not the best scenario, but we had little choice. Somewhere during that year, heartbreaker gave up on the top bunk and started sleeping in the bottom with his bro. We also turned the small bedroom into a big Duggar-style clothes room with shelves and hanging space for all three of the kids' clothes thus eliminating the need for dressers. When pip was three I was expecting our fourth baby. We decided to keep the small bedroom for clothes and an extra bed for my stepson when he stayed over. We brought our fourth home after 5 days in the hospital for the birth,and subsequent jaundice and she slept in the bassinet next to my bed. When she was four months old, I moved her to a pack and play next to my bed because I wasn't ready to send her out on her own. I used the excuse that pip still needed the toddler bed and we had no room for a crib. Well, at one year, and partly sleeping in my bed, partly,sleeping in a pack and play, we made another sleeping adjustment. Pip was annoying her brothers so we moved her to her own room and set the crib up in our room. It looked cute, so much better than the pack n play! Peanut would kinda sleep and nap in there, she would wake up and get in our bed, and I'd think I should put her back in the crib, but would be too tired or she'd wake up. Eventually, I decided that we were going to purposely co-sleep. It would not be for convenience or by accident, but straight-up 'peanut sleeps and naps in our bed and the crib is now my robe hanger-co-sleeping!' It was a marvelous, wonderous, relief.
My boys are well attached, loving, cuddly individuals who are secure in the fact that they are loved. Pip is an independent spirit who is in-your face and demanding. At times I think I should reattach with her to give her more peace, but when I try to do skin-to-skin with her she freaks and runs around saying 'i got away, now you can't skin me'! She is amazing and has the greatest personality. Peanut is my last baby, I think, and I am holding her close. I feel an intense attachment with her and continue to nurse her well past my expected 1 yr cut-off.
So, I know this is an excessive, indulgent post, and I did not write it in one sitting, but my point is....I believe that the attachment formed during co-sleeping is irreplaceable. It can not be replicated, or made-up-for if you do not do it. There were times when, as a SAHM, and even when working part time, that I craved 'me' time. when this happened hubz would rescue me. When we decided together that we needed some 'us' time to watch tv and hang out together, we worked together to arrange the kids into an agreeable sleep routine.We spent many nights laying with kids, trying to get them to sleep, then running out of the room like the recess bell rang, just to watch a show together.
I think if you are co-sleeping in a family bed it is much easier than sleeping alone, in another room with your baby. if your baby is in danger of getting squashed or keeps everyone awake it is important to come to a compromise so that everyone is satisfied. try co-sleepers, floor-beds , crib in your bedroom whatever it takes for everyone to be getting a satisfying experience. if your baby won't sleep without you then you may have to sacrifice your social life, but if you can't always sleep with your baby it is important that they get used to sleeping with your partner so that everyone gets a break. Peanut prefers to sleep with me but will sleep with the hubz. There have been nights that he is the only one who can get her to sleep. Through successes and failures, we should keep working toward raising our babies to be well attached people. That's what attachment parenting is all about. The sad truth is this: my curly top is nearly 9 now! The time goes so quickly, they are only little for a short time, so please love love love the tiny humans because they grow into our future!