Yes, I’m a Co-Sleeper

I don’t remember when exactly I first became aware of co-sleeping or when I had definitively made up my mind to do it. Before I had even married my husband, my sister, following her interest in midwifery, was sharing with me information about how the baby’s heart rate  and breathing regulate with the mother’s and no one else’s. She told me how the mother has a unique awareness of the baby that not even the father or any other caregiver has. She told me how the baby should be placed at the side of the mother and not between the parents as there were cases of fathers rolling over on babies but never mothers. Shortly after I went to Bangladesh for the first time, my sister-in-law had her 2nd baby. This is very different in Bangladesh than in the US. There is no special baby furniture or even diapers. People in Bangladesh raise babies without any of the special baby products that people here think they need. The baby breastfeeds and sleeps in the bed of the mother out of necessity. So when we thought we would be raising our children in Bangladesh, it of course, never occurred to me that I would not be co-sleeping. What other option would we have had? During my pregnancy, I became very convinced by the research around co-sleeping. I read books and articles by Dr. McKenna and Dr. Sears. I felt it was better, healthier, safer for my baby to be close and that it would facilitate breastfeeding. Shortly before Baby was born, we were living in my mom’s house with a full size bed. Needless to say that full size bed seemed like it might be a little small for 3. I also felt the social pressure to have a separate bed for Baby. I had made up my mind quite some time ago on side car crib, but we didn’t have room in the bedroom for a crib, so we ended up getting an Arm’s Reach Co-Sleeper Bassinet. We never used this, at least not as a co-sleeper. Baby still uses it in the family room. We bought a Queen sized bed with the idea that we would all be able to use it, but we unfortunately ended up with a memory foam mattress (my husband wanted something firm, and it isn’t even firm) without realizing until after the fact that it was not ideal for a baby. The new mattress off-gassed something crazy the first couple of weeks while I was still pregnant, so I was going crazy filling the house with air purifying houseplants, and sleeping on the full sized bed in another room. When we brought Baby home she slept in the full size bed with me. I’ve still never slept on that new mattress. The Co-Sleeper bassinet looked so pretty and inviting next to the bed there. I tried laying Baby in it once, while I lay next to her, but she quickly rolled and squirmed her way across the bassinet until she had pressed herself firmly to the lip of the bassinet. Her little face was pressed right into the mattress essentially. I had read all these articles about how mattress off-gassing causes SIDS, so I was quite horrified to see that little face pressed up against the side of the mattress (looking for her Mommy), so I never tried to use it again. Anyway, it would have been hard to give up snuggling with my babe. I didn’t really understand what co-sleeping would be like when we first brought her home. I thought she would sleep on her side of the bed as an adult bed sharer would. My husband observed that if you sat her at a distance from you, she, even as a little newborn, would slowly wiggle until she had pressed herself firmly against you. She stretched out her little hands looking for us, and she almost always woke up within 10 minutes if she didn’t find an adult body to snuggle into. Within a couple nights of bringing her home, I was sleeping with her on my chest for most of the night. She would curl up into a little baby ball there. We continued like that for about 10 weeks, with her sleeping perhaps a third of the night snuggled against my side with her head cradled on my upper arm. After 10 weeks, we reversed that ratio. She seemed to like sleeping in her usual place on the bed right next to me, but towards the morning she would sleep on my chest after nursing. Abruptly around 4 months she started sleeping on her own and sprawling out. Now she hardly snuggles with Mommy at all. However she often sleeps the latter part of the night or early morning sprawled across my stomach after breastfeeding. I prop my arm up with her teddy bear, so that I can support her head better at breast level, and we often both fall asleep like that and pick up right where we left off.

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