Baby Boy stirs and I lean over to kiss him good morning. He looks at me and smiles a huge gummy smile, and we snuggle a little closer to start our day. I roll over and look at Medium Boy, his sandy hair splayed across his pillow, sleep still heavy on his features. If you’re following along you will note that I have two, yes two, children in our bed as we wake to start another day.
I didn’t intentionally choose to follow an attachment parenting philosophy and I certainly didn’t intend to co-sleep with my children as I was finding my way as a parent.While pregnant, I’d read Babywise, a book that emphasizes routines for babies as a blueprint to get them to sleep though the night sooner, and thought it sounded like a great philosophy…great, that is, until I met my first son.He was intense from the start—collicky as a newborn and the world’s worst sleeper from day one.I take that back…he was a GREAT sleeper when someone was holding him, but the minute I put him down in his crib, he instantly woke up and screamed bloody murder until someone picked him back up again. Bedtime was excruciating…nurse, down, up, repeat a few times, tiptoe out, waaaaaaaah!, and we’d start the dance again.And since he was still up several times at night to nurse and it was a battle every time I tried to get him back down again, I was a total zombie because I wasn’t getting more than 3 hours of sleep in a stretch. I was quickly losing my sanity.
I read every book out there…the No Cry Sleep Solution, Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Child, Solve Your Child’s Sleep Problems and the Baby Whisperer Solves All Your Problems to name a few…and after each book I would try the techniques with the hope that something would change.But every time, those hopes would come crashing down as I stared at a red-faced, screaming infant looking at me with what could only be described as disdain as I tried “Ferberizing,” “Pick Up/Put Down” and the “Pantley Dance,” among other unsuccessful techniques.Now a 2.5 year old, my Medium Boy, whenever he stubs his toe, scrapes his knee or feels alone, cries “I want my Mamaaaaa!” and that must be was he was trying to say back then.
A friend who’d had her daughter a few months before I had Medium Boy had touted the wonders of co-sleeping, and while I smiled and nodded, I was really thinking what a loony toon she was for sleeping with her daughter (and yes, I’ve since told her she was totally right!).I was convinced that if I slept with my baby I would roll over and smoosh him instantly, despite the fact that the second he made the tiniest snuffle in his bassinet I was up and by his side immediately. But after weeks passed, then months, without getting one good night’s sleep, and you could practically trip over the dark circles under my eyes, I knew something had to change.I didn’t give up on making him love sleeping in his crib, because seriously, I didn’t want an 18 year old sleeping in our bed, but after fighting with him at his first wake-up and eventually getting him back to sleep, I allowed myself the luxury of scooping him out of his crib at that second wake-up and curling up with him to nurse and go back to sleep on the twin bed we had in the nursery.He slept.I slept.It was beautiful.But soon it became even harder to get him down at that first wake-up and I was going in to sleep with him earlier and earlier.My husband, who adamantly refused in the beginning to let him sleep in our bed, missed sleeping with his wife.So one night he consented, and pretty soon Medium Boy was a permanent fixture in our bed.The crib became a storage bin/cat bed.And you know what?That baby who used to wake up every 1-3 hours every night started sleeping through the night.And I became not only human, but also a much better parent.Go figure.
My husband—you know, the guy who was so adamantly against co-sleeping in the beginning—became a convert and enjoyed getting to cuddle with Medium Boy as he went to sleep and spend more time with him after work, because yes, once we started co-sleeping, he went to bed when we went to bed.And I love, love, loved being able to sleep with my arms wrapped around his neck, my nose in his soft baby hair.We knew that eventually we’d have to transition him out of our bed and into a big boy bed in his own room, and the intention was always lurking there, but we were all so darn happy that it kept getting pushed off into the indefinite future.
And then we found out that Baby Boy was on the way.Suddenly that indefinite future had a looming deadline.But then I was so sick with morning sickness, and then I was so tired, and then we were planning to move and thought it would be better to transition him into his new room, and the excuses just kept piling up and before we knew it, we were bringing home a newborn while the toddler still slept between us.