When I was pregnant with my first child, I had no intention of co-sleeping. In fact, I’d never even heard the word “co-sleeping” and I’m not sure I would have known what it meant had someone said it to me. I assumed the baby would sleep in our master bedroom for the first few months in a bassinet to facilitate breastfeeding. After that, I figured he would sleep in his crib in his own room and my husband and I would shove each other out of bed during night wakings as depicted in movies and sitcoms.
In the beginning, I ended up using something called a Snuggle Nest which our baby slept in for the first two months of his life to ensure that I would not roll on top of him. However, when he woke up at night, I still had to lift him out of the nest, nurse him, and then put him back in. It was exhausting and many nights I fell asleep sitting up with him in my lap. By that point I had read about people that brought their babies into bed with them and how it was the normal practice in most parts of the world. Still, being a natural worrier and heartbreakingly in love with the little night pest, I spent hours researching what we could acquire that would make having him sleep with us safer. I seriously considered purchasing a $200 Humanity Family Sleeper (basically an organic blanket and pillow that one puts on top of their bed so the baby won’t fall out). I should point out that we didn’t even have a mattress our baby could fall out of (my husband and I sleep on blankets on the floor), but I was also worried about suffocation and was searching for a surface that I knew would keep him safe. I also considered moving his crib mattress next to us since I was worried about suffocation due to loose sheets, but that wouldn’t really solve the ease of nursing problem, since he wouldn’t be level with me.
Eventually, one night when he was two months old I just tried nursing him on my side. My husband found us there snuggled together asleep hours later and he’s been spending his nights there ever since. He’s now three and still sleeps in bed with us. One day we’ll move him out, hopefully with his younger sister, but we’re not in a rush. Now that he finally sleeps through the night and sleeps like the dead, he’s a welcome room guest and a pleasant face to wake up to in the morning. I should point out that while I considered myself to have gotten enough sleep starting the day he first slept right next to me, he didn’t actually sleep through the night until he was about 16 months old. Up until then he still woke about twice a night to nurse for a few minutes before falling back to sleep. At that age, I got pregnant with his sister and we weaned him off night nursing.
With his sister, I had no reservations about co-sleeping. I knew that since I now had a toddler to take care of in addition to the baby, I would no longer be able to spend half the day in bed like I did when my son was a newborn. If I wanted to be a well-rested mother, the best solution was to keep her next to me so I could nurse her back to sleep the instant she woke up. Initially, I intended to wait at least until I got home from the hospital, but I couldn’t even hold out that long. The first night, she didn’t want to be in the hospital’s bassinet, so I stayed up all night holding her and happily gazing into her sweet face. The second night I still thought she had a sweet face, but I didn’t have the energy for more happy-gazing. I very stealthily and covertly brought her into the hospital bed with me and did my best to pretend not to be sleeping whenever nurses came in. I thought they might call some child endangerment hotline if they saw me sleeping next to her. Instead one nurse cheerfully said something like, “Oh, doesn’t she look comfy sleeping there next to you” and another said, “That’s a really handy nursing position for getting some rest if you can make it work.” My conscience eased, I got the first of many good night’s sleep with my daughter.
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