Wednesday, June 1, 2011
I've been co-sleeping with my children since Monkey was a few days old. We didn't start out as a co-sleeping family. It was never my intention but I feel it was the best decision I made for all of us.
Originally we started Monkey out in a cradle at the foot of the bed. We did that because a) that's what your suppose to do with a baby according to society, sleeping with your baby is bad and b) we got the doom and gloom speech at the hospital about the horrors of sleeping with your baby. Monkey was about 3 days old when she rolled over while in the cradle and scared us because the cradle wasn't deep and babies that young don't' roll (apparently Monkey didn't read that memo and our family Dr told us we were in for trouble when Monkey repeated that feat in front of her at her 5 day check up). So in the cradle she went and when she would cry I would get up change her bring her into bed, so I could nurse her sitting up and then put her back into the cradle. The problem was I would fall asleep with her in my arms, I figured that it wasn't safe to do that and it was disrupting my sleep patterns and I was having a hard time functioning.
I don't know how mothers who don't co-sleep do it, how they are able to function the next day, getting up, tending to baby and then going back to bed multiple times a night. I'm sure mothers who don't co-sleep wonder how I do it. The important thing is we are doing what's best for us and our families.
I did some research and found out safe ways to co-sleep (yes there are rules to do it safely, when you hear the "horror stories" it's because the co-sleeping wasn't done in a safe manner). The first rendition of co-sleeping was I put a bed rail on the side of the bed and Monkey sleep between me and the bedrail because Rock didn't' feel comfortable with her between us. After a few months, Rock kicked us out of the room because Monkey was a noisy nurser at night and we shared a bed in "her" room. After another few months we returned back but with a new setup, we placed a twin bed by the wall and then butted up the king bed beside that. I would put Monkey to sleep on the twin bed and would start the night on the king size bed, when she would wake up to nurse I would roll over to join her on the twin bed and would remain there till morning (I would be too lazy to wake up and roll back onto the king). This arrangement gives me the best of both worlds. Rock also likes it because he ends up with a king size bed to himself most nights.
We were also told that if we started co-sleeping that we would never get her out of our bed. When she was 2 1/2 she decided she wanted to sleep on her own. We never discussed it, that just what she wanted. It was to our relief because we had just found out we were pregnant again. And I didn't want her to blame the baby that she got kicked out of the bed, plus I didn't have to deal with the kicks while I was pregnant.
With Muffin we did the same thing. There would be nights where Monkey would join Rock in the big bed because I didn't feel it was safe to co-sleep with both of them but as Muffin got older there would be times where Rock would have the king bed to himself and I would share the twin with both the girls. However when I got pregnant with Tutu I still shared the bed with Muffin, we tried to get her to sleep with her sister. She's still be co-sleeping but Muffin was/is such a horrible sleeper that it would result in everyone not getting enough sleep and Monkey needed her sleep because she had school. I don't know why I didn't need sleep but that's beside the point.
Because of everything that happened last year the original plan of teaching Muffin to sleep with Monkey never happened. My mom stayed over to help with my little non-sleeper (there was no way I could be waking with Tutu and MIL and deal with Muffin's non-sleeping periods). So Muffin co-sleeps with my mom. It works for us.
So on a usual night the sleeping arrangements are Monkey sleeps on her own, Muffin sleeps with my mom, Rock sleeps on the king, Tutu sleeps on the twin and I share my time between the 2 beds. There are nights where Monkey and Muffin sleep together but until summer break starts I don't want that to be a regular occurrence because Monkey needs her sleep. We will try again in the summer and establish rules for co-sleeping because they are suppose to be sharing a room.
On a not usual night we sometimes have extra people in the room. Our bed is open to the children. If someone is not feeling good, having bad dreams, or in Muffin's case she had an accident in bed and didn't want to wait for it to be changed before she goes back to sleep they are welcome in our bed. There are mornings where all 5 of us our sharing the beds, usually with the girls sleeping with Rock. Sometimes Muffin joins Tutu and I in the twin (makes for a very tight squeeze for me). We just roll with it because this arrangements means for the most part we all get more sleep.
There are times when Muffin joins Rock and sleeps diagonally on the need and pushes him to the edge of the bed (although I don't know why he doesn't pick her up and move her like I do). There are times when due to illness no one is really sleeping but we're doing what works for us. I'm glad to have those moments sleeping with my children.
I know that in the future (not so distant future it seems) that they won't do that anymore. I will have my body and bed back at night. While part of me is looking forward to that, there is also a part of me that is dreading that because that means my babies are growing up. But for now musical beds will continue to be played in our house. There will be mornings that we will wake up surprised to see and feel a little body snuggled up next to us. There will be nights that there is no mistake a little body has entered the room to sleep with us. But for the most part this arrangement affords us all a good night's sleep.