Confessions of a Reformed Co-sleeper

Posted on Jan 27, 2013 in Featured, Sleeping | 3 comments

{When I was pregnant with Silas, I decided that for this baby I would try not co-sleeping. I had co-slept with my older two children and had suffered through 18-24 months of hourly wakings. I knew I had to try something different, just in case it worked. At first, it worked beautifully but eventually, Silas developed the same sleep routine as his older siblings.

When Silas was 16 months old, we moved from a 1900 sq. ft. house into our 300 sq. ft. converted school bus. Sleeping arrangements changed drastically. The most practical solution for all of us, considering that Silas was still waking to nurse between four and eight times each night and there was no room for a crib, was for me and Silas to share the queen-size bed, and for Aaron to share the double bed with one of our other children.}

sleeping toddler

The view from here.

Here I am, a co-sleeper, once again, through practical necessity.

I confess that I appreciated the time Silas spent sleeping in a crib. I appreciated the early days when he slept multiple consecutive hours and I was able to sleep soundly across the room but still wake when I heard him rustle around in search of me. I can attest that I appreciated the space in my own bed to fall deeply asleep for 45 minutes at a time between his hourly wake ups that went on for a year. I relished being able to get comfortable in any position I wanted without anyone touching me, even as I dreaded the many times I had to get up and down in a night. Those blissful deep sleeps free of a head in my ribcage, an arm across my throat, a foot in the face, or an entire body on my chest made the crib worth it, even when it didn’t do the job I hoped it would.

As a reformed co-sleeper, I confess that I am grateful that our living situation re-imposed co-sleeping on me.

I admit that I no longer tiptoe into bed for fear that the stirring of the duvet will wake the baby, as I once did in my first incarnation as a co-sleeper. I confess that now when I climb into bed, I wrap my son in my arms and pull his sleeping body up against my own. I confirm that a bury my face in the curve of his neck and inhale the smell of him. I do indeed pass my hands softly over his silky baby hair and rub them over him, feeling the ridge of his spine, the hollow of his back, the fullness of his belly, the way his little foot fits in the palm of my hand like a secret. I acknowledge that I hold on a little tightly, squeezing him into me, absorbing him, for just a fraction of a second as I breathe in his ear, “I love you.” I confess that as he stirs, and becomes aware of my presence in his sleep, I return him gently to his pillow, smoothing his fuzzy blanket over him, and patting him back into his dreams. I confide that I take his hand, heavy and limp with sleep, into my own hand, closing my fingers around his fist, as I settle into my own pillow and close my eyes.

I confess that I am ok temporarily not sharing a bed with my husband. I wouldn’t sleep as well if there were another adult body in the bed. Alone in the bed with a toddler, I have the luxury and space to roll away from Silas between nursing sessions and get comfortable, just as I could when Silas was in a crib.

I acknowledge that I have been given a gift: the chance to reclaim all that I lost during the year Silas slept in a crib. I even admit that sometimes I love it when he sits up in the night and says, “nurse. mama.” because it means that I have one more chance to memorize the weight and shape of unconditional love, that I have one more opportunity to linger in the long-forgotten sensations of long-ago nights with my now seven and four year olds, and that I have one more precious moment to hold still the never-ending blur of my last baby winging into adulthood.

I confess that I can not linger here forever. After seven years of fractured sleep, I am yearning (desperate?) for the day my last baby will finally sleep all night through. I know that night-weaning is just around the corner. I am sure that Silas will be moving to the toddler bed soon, and I acknowledge that I have a lifetime ahead of me without a baby in my bed. I understand that these are my last days as a co-sleeper.

I confess that I am not quite ready to move on. I admit that for now, I’m making no sudden moves, tiptoeing across the room, unwilling to disturb the delicate balance of shared sleep (no matter how broken).

I confess that in this moment I am waiting, blessed to co-sleep for one more night.

3 Comments

  1. My first child actually slept better in the crib. In her own space, without any encouragement from me, she was sleeping through the night from the time she was a few months old.

    My second child is a different story. He has slept through the night a handful of times, and he’s four and a half years old. He has his own bed, which he goes to sleep in every night. He has a makeshift bed on the floor in my room if he needs company. And yet, most nights I wake up with his foot in my rib, as he has crept into my bed while I slept. At this point it’s old, man. Really old. The baby sweetness has worn off. I just don’t know how to end it.

    And yet, once in a while I just grab his little sleeping form and remember. And I wonder if one day I’ll miss it.
    Amber´s last post ..Remembering my First (Fur) Baby
    Twitter: AmberStrocel

    • Oh, I know it does get old. But I think you probably will miss it at some point…

      Sometimes the only time I get to cuddle my kids is when they are sleeping because they are always moving too fast.

  2. I love this post. So true for me as well. I planned on cosleeping at least part time with my first daughter and to this day (she’s eight) the only reason why she’s out of my bed is because she now sleeps with her sister. I went through two years of her waking 4-6 times a night and it almost killed me.

    I “learned my lesson” with my second daughter and started putting her to bed in a crib drowsy. She slept there until the wee hours of the morning when I brought her to bed when she wanted to nurse.

    My third did well for a while in her own bed but eventually the coming into my bed got earlier and earlier and now at almost three she comes to my bed from about midnight on (she weaned 6 months ago). I really don’t mind anymore and sometimes if I go to bed before she wakes up I go get her because I can’t get to sleep without her. I love the little cuddles and kisses I get from her.

    The one mistake that I think we’ve made with my youngest is that we got into a bad habit and she wants us to stay in her room until she goes to sleep. Oh well.
    christy´s last post ..One Little Word
    Twitter: christyrollo

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