Before I became a parent, my sister and a few close friends of ours had already become parents so we were able to observe and let’s be honest, do what we all shouldn’t do; judge. Judge their parenting styles and even how their kids acted as well as reacted to their parenting.
My husband and I would constantly look at each other and say, no way is our child going to do this or that. Mamas, you know you did it too! It’s what we do, as humans, every.single.day.
Observe then form our own opinions, which then can turn into beliefs of how we are or are not going to act when actually we know nothing about what we are observing! Phew… Now, I just cannot believe we thought we knew it all before we even had kids!
At that time, one of the biggest parenting faux pas that I observed and heard about was co-sleeping, bed-sharing, family bed, etc. Call it whatever you want but I am talking about sharing your own bed with your kids AKA sleeping with your children. I just could not understand how or why someone would want to sleep with their child. Besides the question of when do mom and dad have intimate time, I am just more of a ‘need my own space’ kind of a sleeper.
Fast forward to when my son was born and after holding him for only seconds, he was whisked away to the NICU and then transferred to Dell Children’s Hospital away from me, his mother, until I could see him again almost two days later. As soon as I was able to hold my beautiful son, with tubes attached to machines, something changed inside me, again. I would not be the parent who I had always thought I was going to be.
Once I brought my son home as well as my daughter almost four years after my son, I realized they were both what Dr. Sears likes to call high needs. If they were not on the breast or being held then they were not happy babies. As far as falling asleep, I tried everything under the moon with both of them and as soon as I tried to put them down they would stir awake. I gave up on my mama ideals which felt like a weight had been lifted. I was so exhausted.
The days after bringing a human into this world can be emotionally and physically overwhelming at best. Eventually it was easier to get a little shut eye while they got a lot of shut eye on or close to me.
Now, if you also have high needs babies/children who just do not want to sleep on their own please remember that you are not alone and this is completely normal. Do not let anyone tell you different. (Search the 9 Months In 9 Months Out Theory — I promise it is insightful) And you may not feel comfortable following your best friend’s tried and true sleep training techniques and that is okay too. Just like their adult counterparts, all babies are different and born with unique personalities. Always do what works best for you and your baby or child. And if you are contemplating co-sleeping there are advantages as well as guidelines you need to follow.
As for my son, I had to figure out the safest ways to co-sleep and still let my husband get some sleep so we ended up on our very firm couch and occasionally an infant sleeper. All three of us did end up sleeping in the bed together once he got older. After my husband woke up too many nights to a zombie kicking 18 month old, we moved the crib, that he had never slept in, into our bedroom and side-cared it to our bed which was a life saver. This allowed him to have his own space and our own space but still very close when he needed a little mama love. To this day, the crib is still side-cared to our bed where my 2-year-old daughter now sleeps, most nights.
My son is now 6 years old and still enjoys sleeping with us in our bed on occasion. We transitioned him to his own bed in his room when he was about 2.5 years old. He would still wake up in the middle of the night and creepily stand at the foot of our bed until I woke up and saw a looming shadow. After my daughter was born, he again joined us in the big bed most nights and sometimes kicked dad to the couch. Having him co-sleep again helped him continue to feel more secure and attached while adjusting from being the only child to big brother. Yes, don’t worry, at 6 he now sleeps in his own bed, however, some times we get extra mama, sister and dad snuggle time in our bed on weekends!
I understand this is a controversial topic and people have a lot of different opinions on if co-sleeping is the right parenting choice or not especially when it comes to infant safety. However, if you take necessary precautions and feel it works for your family then you will enjoy the blessings that come with it.
Waking up to a pointy knee in my back might be incredibly obnoxious at the time; however the fact that my kids are comforted by my presence at night is something that will one day only be a sweet memory. So for now I choose to share my bed with my kids.