While settling down for our first night at the hospital, the nurse came in to make sure everything was fine before we fell asleep.
She said “We don’t recommend sleeping with the baby because accidents can happen. But it is better for you to sleep together.”
And she walked out!
As a bewildered first time mother, I was like… what am I supposed to do with that?
I had never considered co-sleeping. I knew my mom had done it on occasion, so I never looked at it as some terrible evil. But I had heard you weren’t supposed to do it, and I wanted to be a perfect mom. So I registered for a bassinet and that was that.
Naturally, I got lots of unsolicited advice before my son arrived. Some people thought I would want to be away from my kid. They said I would regret having him sleep in my room.
Others suggested different contraptions that they loved for their babies. I was so over other people’s opinions.
So, here I am in my hospital bed, nursing this sweet little baby I barely know. My husband crawled into that tiny bed beside me and wrapped his arms around us. We got all of our pillows situated around us and waited for our son to finish eating.
We woke up to our nurse patting me gently to take my meds. It had been five hours. Five blissful hours. I couldn’t believe how deeply we had all slept smushed together on that tiny twin bed.
Both of us got into our own beds, and we put our baby down in his “bassinet” (a.k.a plastic box) that looked oh so uncomfortable. But I couldn’t fall asleep. I wanted that fuzzy little bundle of joy where he belonged – right next to me.
We were at the hospital for four nights, and he never stayed in that plastic bed for more than two hours. I had so little self-control, and after the first feeding of the night I would end up with him sleeping tucked in my arms.
When we finally came home and were facing our first night on our own with this kid, I fed him and placed him just the way you were supposed to – on his back, nothing else in the bassinet… and I let him be. I assumed we could go to sleep when and how we wanted to and wouldn’t need to worry about him.
And so the torture began.
Feed, snuggle, put on back in bassinet, scream.
Feed, snuggle, put on back in bassinet, scream.
We didn’t know what to do. What was going wrong? Finally, worn out and exhausted, I put him on my chest and leaned against the wall on some pillows. We woke up together the next morning. He had slept all night on my chest!
Despite my big desire to do everything the “right” way, (I mean..I wanted to be the best mom EVER…duh!) we started to explore different ways to get my little one to sleep. For the first week, his car seat worked like magic.
Now he hates his car seat. Now it’s his tummy. I cannot for the life of me get that child to sleep if he isn’t on his stomach or with me.
I was only sleeping about 80% for several nights. I constantly was sticking my hand over into his bassinet to check if he was breathing. Sometimes I even shook him a little and covered up his little nose to see if he would respond. He always did, and that was comforting, but I just could not sleep. I was very nervous about the tummy sleeping.
So now we sleep together. We sleep soundly. We love the snuggles. Instead of my previous routine of getting out of bed to grab him when he cried, sitting up awake to feed him, coaxing him to sleep, then putting him back in bed – now I whip my boob out and we both stay 95% asleep during the latching process. Now mom, dad, and baby are getting up to 12 hours of mostly uninterrupted sleep every night.
Personally, there is no way I could sleep without baby in the same room as me. Even when he was just on the other side of the bedroom in his own little bed – I was too anxious to sleep!
Now he sleeps right next to me. Any time he fusses, I am at his beck and call. He knows that he is safe, loved and that his needs are met. He sleeps so deeply when he can feel his momma’s heartbeat – and he doesn’t even complain when daddy squishes him sometimes!
One time I woke up and he was squished between us, his arms straight up and his little head turned upwards. He was making the funniest little face – but he was fast asleep. We all wake up anytime something seems off, and we are very aware of each other.
Sleeping as a family has been such a wonderful bonding experience. No – I don’t know what will happen when I want to put him in his own crib someday. But we will cross that bridge when we come to it. For right now, this is the best thing. My son is happy, healthy and loved. For me, that is the most important thing of all.
UPDATE: We co-slept for 5 months. At 6 months, we transitioned him to a rock n’ play beside our bed, and then to his own crib in his own room at 8 months. We had no trouble whatsoever. I don’t think I would have co-slept any longer than I did, because he started to get big and annoying and didn’t need my boob at night anymore. I can’t speak for anyone who chooses to co-sleep longer, but we did not have any trouble switching him to sleeping alone. Now, with a 1-year-old who sleeps happily for 12-13 hours a night in his own crib, I can still stand behind our decision to co-sleep for those first few exhausting months. It was wonderful for our family.