When I was pregnant with my son, I swore up and down that I would not co-sleep. We bought an Arm’s Reach Co-sleeper and figured that would be close enough for all of us. When we set up the co-sleeper, I immediately did not like that the mattress wasn’t flush with our mattress. I know a two inch drop doesn’t seem like much, but after a C-section, the simplest movements are extremely painful. Turning over and twisting to pick my little guy up out of the co-sleeper and then doing it again to put him back was not easy with a five inch wound on my belly. Not to mention, my darling son seemed to think that being 10 inches away from me was akin to a death sentence.
For two weeks, I fought against bed-sharing. I would prop myself up with pillows and support my arms with more pillows so that if I drifted off, he wouldn’t slip out of my arms. This worked fine (except the sore back it left me with) until I woke up to find my two week old son face down in the pillows. Mark terrifying parenting moment number one. Of course, he was fine, but in that moment, I declared myself done with that arrangement. I stripped my bed of the heavy blankets and pillows, dressed in layers with a blanket that I only pulled up to my waist and rested my head on a tiny accent pillow. That was how we slept for the next year.
I finally got some sleep but after a while, I realized my son was a chronic nighttime nurser who seemingly never planned to sleep through the night. When he was 11 months old, I went back to work teaching a night class, so my husband was on bedtime duty two nights a week. Three months later, Hubs decided it was time to try the crib. The boy was still waking up every 2-3 hours, nursing back to sleep, and from 5 am on, he would nurse pretty much non-stop until morning. I was tired and crabby most of the time. This was exactly the situation I wanted to avoid when I was pregnant.
While part of me loved sleeping with my boy, part of me hated it. Going to bed and cuddling with that sweet little guy, inhaling his milk breath and basking in his warmth was great. Feeling like an all you can eat dairy bar half the night was the worst.
So at 14 months, I was, in theory, totally for breaking the habit. Since the only way I could get him to sleep was by breastfeeding, my husband took point on getting him to sleep while we made the transition. The first night he slept on his own in the crib, I sobbed. I mean, total breakdown sobbing. I was so sad that he was such a big boy and didn’t need me anymore, etc. He slept for four hours in the crib and we considered it a great success.
While since then, we’ve been back and forth with him. Sometimes he slept in the crib, sometimes with us, sometimes in a pack and play. Then we got a big boy bed, set it up in our room and he slept there half the night and with us the other half. Then somehow, he ended up back in our bed full-time. I realize the lack of consistency is entirely our faults and has certainly worked against us in helping him become an independent sleeper.
So over the weekend, my husband cleaned and decorated the boy’s room (which we had been treating as basically a huge closet), moved his toddler bed in there and generally made his room more homey. For the past two nights, he’s gone to bed not just in his bed but in his own room, sleeping half the night by himself. We’re very pleased with this progress, but again, it’s reminded me how big he is getting and that he doesn’t always need me anymore. The first night, I laid in bed wide awake until he he woke up and wanted to come into bed with us. Why? Because I missed him. Once he came into our bed, and I snuggled with him, I was so uncomfortable. Laying on my side to snuggle my big boy was pushing the baby into my ribs in a most painful way. I recognized the irony in the moment.
Last night, he went to bed in his room quickly. He woke up a couple times, but went back to bed easily after me or Hubs tucked him in. At 3:30, he woke again and wanted to come snuggle with me, so that’s what we did. It took him an hour and a half to get back to sleep, which means, it took me an hour and a half to get back to sleep.
So there it is. I love this boy so much that when he is just one room over, I miss him terribly, but then when he sleeps with me, I get kicked and punched half the night and can’t sleep from having to contort myself into all sorts of crazy positions for his comfort.
Co-sleeping: You’re damned if you do, and damned if you don’t.