When I was expecting Squishy, I knew that we would co-sleep. We hadn’t co-slept with our oldest (apart from at naptimes) and it was something I regretted even though, at the time, there wasn’t much of a choice in the matter.
However, my reasons for choosing to co-sleep weren’t the mushy, snuggly reasons I had read about on so many attachment parenting forums and blogs. Sure, I liked the idea of snuggling in a warm bed with a soft baby – who doesn’t? – but have always been a creature that needs her own space. I couldn’t imagine that I would be happy sharing a bed with a baby for long – just for long enough to get through the serious sleep deprivation.
Then Squishy arrived, and turned everything on its head.
For a while, Squishy and I broke one of the cardinal rules of co-sleeping, and slept together on the couch. I was still suffering from SPD, so I had to sleep propped up in order to avoid terrible pain. He would sleep on my chest, his little head resting close to my beating heart. It was beautiful. He would awaken every hour or so to feed, but I wasn’t tired at all. I would rouse just before he did and latch him on, before replacing him back on my chest again. Sometimes I would just stare at him for what felt like hours, taking deep soul-filling breaths of the top of his downy head.
Once the exhaustion began to kick in, after 6 weeks or so, I started becoming more concerned about the risk of us sleeping on the couch. We acquired a white crib that he slept in, next to the couch where I slept. For a while he slept well, until a sleep regression began at 3 and a half months. My nights became a whirl of crying baby, crying mummy and seemingly endless wakeups – every 30 minutes, sometimes. I longed to take him to bed with me, but I couldn’t – the SPD was still at a level that prevented me from laying flat without serious pain and temporary disablement on the following day.
Gradually, things started to improve, and by 7 months post-partum we were able to begin our co-sleeping journey properly. We set up the cotbed like a sidecar and into it he went. Immediately our lives improved. Still, though, my reasons for continuing to co-sleep were more about convenience than anything else. I loved how easy it was to feed him through the night, and I wished that we’d been able to do the same with our oldest. However, it was always in the back of my mind that as soon as he was old enough to share a room with his brother, or when we were able to move to a bigger house with a room for him, we would make the transition to solo sleep.
As time has gone on, though, things have changed. My co-sleeping journey has unexpectedly transformed into a love affair. I love the fact that his sweet little face is the first thing I see in the morning. I love the sleepy midnight feeds, when the whole house is quiet and the only people in the whole world are my Squishy and I. I love gazing at him in the early hours of the day, the light in our bedroom just barely enough to highlight the smooth contours of his nose and cheeks. I love the fact that my wake-up call in the morning is a lovely chubby baby face smiling right at me, or trying to latch on to my arm (or more recently, a hearty slap in the face accompanied by a rousing giggle). I never imagined that I would love sharing sleep this much, or that my original plans to move him out of bed by 12 months of age would be scrapped without a second thought.
We chose to co sleep because I felt it was best for our baby, and for us. I was happy that we were “ticking all of the AP boxes” – co-sleeping, babywearing, cue-feeding etc. I was overjoyed that we had found a way to make nighttime parenting far easier than it had ever been with our oldest, despite the more frequent wakings.
We continue to co-sleep for all of the above reasons, but mostly because I just can’t imagine it any other way. The thought of moving my baby out of my bed makes my heart hurt, and I simply cannot see any reason why I would – at least not for a while, anyway. Co-sleeping has become such an important part of our relationship. It’s a part of how we connect. Having my sweet baby within reaching distance from me at night is something I cannot imagine changing.
People also often wonder about how co-sleeping affects a marriage – well, for us, our marriage is going from strength to strength since initiating the family bed. We both want to be close to our baby at night, and my husband is glad to have a wife who isn’t completely deranged from sleep deprivation.
I know that co-sleeping isn’t for everybody. But, for me, it’s the very best thing I have ever done. Who knows what the future holds, but for now, it’s just me, my Squishy, and the night.