Okay, first of all, let me say what I feel I have to say. This is my story. This is how I do what I do. This is not telling you how to do anything. I am only responsible for my family. I am not responsible for your family. In fact, I’m pretty sure the American Academy of Pediatrics is against the practice of bed sharing. So, there you have it. Don’t do what I say to do. Make up your own mind.
Having said that, this is how I do what I do and just how I got to this place. I co-sleep. (As I lower my voice and look around to see who’s staring at me.) I bed share. I sleep not only in the same room with my babies, or even within an arm’s reach of my baby, most of the time I actually sleep next to my baby. At least a portion of the night. And I still sleep with my toddler. Yes, I do. My toddler that has been Mr. Attachment since the moment he came out.
I didn’t study this one either. I actually read more about this practice while writing this post than I have in all my years of doing it. I’m bored by reading all that stuff. I’m not gonna tell you the official rules of “how to” do it – go look it up – it’s all over the place. I’m here to tell what I do. Not what “they” tell me to do and not do. Besides, I’m gonna do what I want to do anyway. I’m stubborn like that.
I didn’t co-sleep with my first child. I kept him in a bassinet by the bed for the first month and then moved him to his own crib in his own room at exactly one month old. Just like everybody said to do. Now, I did “slip” and find myself sleeping next to him some mornings on his couch in his room when I couldn’t keep my head up any longer to get him to settle. But I felt guilty about not putting him back into his own bed and vowed to not do it again. Each time. But most of the time it wasn’t much of any issue because he was such an easy sleeper.
And then my second child was born. A non-sleeper. A child attached. Wouldn’t be laid down in the hospital room. Every time I would lay him in that plastic bassinet he would scream like a crazy person - I would call the nursery, they would check him, ask if he was a nursing baby and wish me luck. So I brought him to my hospital bed. Just to get sleep. Any sleep. Oh my goodness, the lack of sleep. I brought him home and it was just the same. I’m pretty sure this nursing all night long when I didn’t have the laying down nursing position mastered led to all that trouble I had with nursing him. But we made it. Now, just how did I sleep with him so much? My husband was working nights at the time and my bed was empty. So, when he cried, I brought him to me. And fell asleep. And found peace.
When my girl came along I was still having toddlers coming to my bed in the night – even GoodSleepingOldest needed to know we were near occasionally. And boy, that Middlest really needed me. But we had a queen sized bed and a taboo feeling about children in the bed with us so we had them drag their blankies and pillows to our room and sleep on the floor next to our bed. Lots of times holding my hand that I hung off the edge of the bed down to them to soothe them. MyGirl was a sleeper though. Nurse that child and lay her back in that bassinet beside the bed and we were good. She took pretty well to sleeping with little to no effort.
By the time BigMan was born I was well into the “do what works” phase of my parenting. Another fully needy baby – I slept most nights with him next to me on the edge of the bed away from my husband. With the bassinet against the bed in case he ever got too close to the edge. We eventually transitioned him to his own room. Just to find him more than once playing in the house in the middle of the night. Like, the time we woke up at 2 in the morning with 15 month old him sitting on the kitchen table not knowing how to get down and crying. We moved his crib back into our room and for a while we kept the door to our room closed to be super sure we heard him if he got up to wander out. That’s also around the same time we installed a “bar” on our sliding glass door. Oh my goodness. Plus, he wanted comforting at least as much as TheMiddlest did. Now I still had 3 other small children wandering in at various times with leg cramps and bad dreams and “I wet the bed, Mama.” So we did what works. Crawl into bed. Lay on the floor of my room. Just sleep. Whatever you do, just sleep.
That’s where we were when I was pregnant with this one. My husband had built a king-sized waterbed by this point, but I wasn’t comfortable with bringing babies to bed in a waterbed. Plus, my husband works days now. I don’t. Well, you know, I don’t work like he does. And a crying baby always stresses me so much more when I’m worried about Matt not getting enough sleep for work the next day. So I knew we’d alter the “toy room” to be a “nesting room” when TheFinalist arrived, I just didn’t know exactly how it would work until we lived it a little while. In fact that first night home from the hospital I thought I was going to lose my mind with the amount of minutes I didn’t sleep. But we settled in after a little bit and now it works.
We had the old queen sized mattress, but no bed frame for it. Which works nicely to not worry about the baby dropping to the floor. We had the crib in the room originally for BigMan. And I tried a bassinet type bucket thing for TheFinalist at first. This did not work. For so many reasons. What we have currently is this: The newborn Finalist is laid into his crib - either when he goes to sleep for the night (usually around 8:30p) or when I go to bed. He’s a sleeper, it takes no effort to get him settled into his bed. I just lay him down. Already asleep. And he just stays asleep. It’s him, not me. I lay the 2 year old BigMan against the wall in the bed. And I go to sleep. When TheFinalist wakes to nurse I get him out of the crib, change him right there in my bed (note the bucket, lamp, and clock for these purposes). I nurse him laying down and we drift off to sleep together. I usually plan which side I will nurse him on for his last feeding so that he is not between me and the toddler. If I need to feed him on that side I sit up with him to nurse and then put him to sleep on the other side. I don’t trust sleeping with him between me and BigMan. I always sleep with him on the far side.
To answer the shocking question you probably have in your mind right now.. No, I don’t sleep in the same bed as my husband right now. I said it. It’s a season. A brief season. Getting briefer all the time – this kid only wakes one time in the night already and has even skipped that one feeding a few times. We’ve built BigMan his own bed that’s already in the loft – we’ll start that slow transition soon. And when things change and cease to work the way they are now, we’ll adapt.
I know I’m a freako. I know. It’s okay. I’ve accepted that by now. When I was looking around to give you a couple of links I found myself actually reading and being engaged by one. Dr. Sears made me feel not only much less like a freak but also like I was doing something right. Pretty amazing to me. So, if you find yourself drawn to this (or even just stumbling into it like we did out of needing to survive this season) go read his article - it’ll make you smile. Just keep in mind the American Academy of Pediatrics has this to say about it too.
Now about these pictures..
I sorted all our books and put the toddler friendly ones in our “nesting room” for easy sleepy reads.
This is a pic of an actual “co-sleeper” bed thing that a friend has let me borrow. In all honesty, I just put it in his crib to keep him comfier. I don’t use it in our bed. I just sleep with him.
In the bucket – I pack everything we might need in the night. Diapers (an extra for the toddler too), clothes, wipes, powder, a pump if I wake up too full, a nasal bulb right now (poor baby has a cold), diaper rash ointment, hand cleaner and lotion for me. When we go to bed, the bucket comes with us from the changing table and in the morning it goes back with us. One place to refill everything. Completely portable. The bucket credit SO goes to my friend CC who had five kids before I did and back when I couldn’t imagine how she did what she did! The bucket I use now even has TheMiddlest’s name and info in her handwriting – we still use the same one!
That’s it. That’s how I manage to sleep through the bedtime revolving door of four kids between 8 and 2 and a newborn nursing through the night.
Now tell me how you do it. Do you co-sleep? Have you ever? Have you looked into it? And go ahead, you can admit now that I’m WAY closer to freako than you thought I was before.