Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Co-Sleeping or No-Sleeping

Co-Sleeping is an often debated parenting choice that many make people make. I feel like the choice was made for me. Lawson was born premature via emergency c-section and in the NICU for a couple of weeks. I was knocked out during the surgery and required a couple of blood transfusions due to a bad case of HELLP syndrome. There isn't much I remember from the first day or so of his life. I have a vague memory of seeing him for the first time, but there was not an immediate bonding. I loved him like crazy, but I didn't know this little person. I didn't see his first breath or hear his first cry. I was not there to comfort him in his first moments in this world. It was a hard recovery for me and a rough start for Lawson, being just 4lb11oz (he had IUGR due to the HELLP). I was exhausted and had nurses telling me how to hold him, when to hold him, when to put him down, when he should eat, how to bath him, even when to change his diaper. I was his mother, but I felt I hardly knew him. Leaving him there at night after I'd been discharged from the hospital was all kinds of terrible and I bawled the whole way home every night. After getting up to pump a few times during the night, I then woke up at 4:30am to get back to him for his 6am feeding. The thought of him needing me and me not being there tore me apart! The last night before he was discharged, we stayed the night in the hospital with him and I could not put him in his bassinet. All I wanted to do was hold him and love him and let him know that I'd always be there for him. You know, the things that most moms get to do straight away after having their baby. I remember the nurse coming in at night and asking if I was going to put him in his bed, with a tone in her voice like she couldn't believe I'd fall asleep in my bed while holding my baby and didn't I know that I could hurt him or kill him by doing that?! That was my first time cosleeping and I didn't even realize it.

I brought him home, put the bassinet by the bed and each night and I'd set him in it for all of about 5 minutes as we tossed and turned, then he'd be back in my arms and we would fall fast asleep. We both slept better when we could feel each other breathe. Breastfeeding was so easy. He could nurse all night long if he wanted to and I could sleep, knowing that he was okay. The choice had been made for us. We didn't sleep well if we weren't snuggled up together. Co-sleeping was our answer! Lawson continued to sleep with me for a few months after he self-weaned at 18 months. During that time, I started scooting him further and further from me as we slept. We'd begun to wake each other up when we moved at night and I suspected our sleep would improve if we weren't so close to one another. Eventually, he went in his crib right next to the bed for the first half of the night and usually ended the night back in bed with me. By the time Naomi arrived, he was snug in his own bed all night, but still in our room. So, for the last seven months, we've had Naomi in the bed with me and Lawson in his bed just a few feet away. One, big happy family! Kind of. Dustin snores and it would wake Lawson up. Naomi is a baby and sometimes wakes up crying, which wakes him up. Lawson gets ticked if he gets too hot or can't find his bottle up and wants to be sure I know about it. All of those things wake me up. I can only remember a night or two since Naomi has been born that I haven't been woken up several times. I am tired.

Well, finally, we are back home with two rooms available to us at the same time (got to love house renovations) and Lawson has been sleeping in his own room very happily for over a week now. I didn't think too much about it until I woke up in the middle of the night a few nights ago to find Naomi trying to stand up with the bed rail and visions of her sweet little head on the wood floor floated through my mind. Lawson had never done that. The next night I woke up at 4am to find her crawling and rolling around between Dustin and I smiling and laughing and having a grand time! Again, visions of her thunking on the floor. Time for Naomi to move down to her Lalapanzi bed on the floor. Both kids in their own bed/room within a week of each other?? Last night, she spent the first half of the night in her own bed. I had to settle her a few times because she is used to feeling me when she rolls over and I wasn't there, but she slept surprisingly well on her own straight away. I did not. This is where the no-sleeping of co-sleeping comes in.

I was in my bed, next to my husband, with two happy children snug in their beds and it took all the self-control I had not to go snatch one of them up and snuggle them in the dark. It seems that I've grown accustomed to that warm little body next to me and didn't know how to settle in with so much space on my side of the bed. At seven months, it seems strange to be moving Naomi to her own bed already. Lawson was 20 months. I laid there for hours, practically willing one of them to wake up and cry out for me so I'd have an excuse to give them a hug and a kiss. I finally ended up coming out and sitting by the fire for a while because the laying in bed without a kiddo was not working out for me. In the end, Naomi cried and wasn't having any more of this sleeping alone business, so I brought her up to sleep with me. I fell asleep instantly. This is going to be a big transition for all of us, but probably a good one, given that she seems likely to dive off the edge of our bed even with the huge side rail. I suppose having her on the floor next to me isn't that different than on the bed next to me, but try telling that to me tonight when I try to fall asleep in the wide open spaces of our king sized bed!


  1. Beautiful post!

    When I was pregnant with my second, I felt it was time to move my daughter, then 2, out of our family bed. We made a bed on the floor for her so she could still be by us. My husband actually missed her the most and would be the first one to offer her our bed if she wanted. So sweet. I miss those days. Now my 4 and 7 year old sleep together (their choice) in a double bed in my son's room. So I guess we are still continuing the "family bed" :)

  2. I have the same problem except my cute snugly partner is my cat! I really should have a baby soon.

  3. I started co-sleeping more by accident than on purpose, too! I tried to put him in his own bed at nights, but I couldn't sleep because I was so worried about him... I was constantly getting up to check on him, just waiting and worrying until he cried so I could nurse him. I fell asleep in bed with him one night when he was a week old, and slept better than I had since he was born, and that was that. :)

    I've been starting him out in his crib at nights lately, until he wakes up for a feeding, but he's been teething so he hasn't been sleeping well at all, either in the crib or with me.

    I love the pictures in this post, btw! Especially the one of your husband and daughter, it's so precious!

  4. kinda sounds like how I started cosleeping too, lol. before I had Marcus I swore up and down I would NEVER cosleep! and then I had him and spent the first week nursing him, putting him in his crib, laying awake trying to get back to sleep only to fall asleep and have him awake up to eat like ten minutes later and doing it all over again. I got NO sleep and then I kept him in bed with me and it was heaven.

    Have you thought of moving your bed up against a wall so there's one less side you need to worry about?

  5. Love the post- Amen- beautiful.