Co-sleeping Chronicles: Why it Works for Us … For Now
I know, I know. Co-sleeping is on fire in a sea of hot topics among moms. My intent here is not to debate, but rather to share my family’s experience with a practice that is more common than moms would like to admit. For us, it was a matter of sleep and survival.
How Did We Get Here?
It starts as all half-baked plans do, at about 2am. After weeks turned into months with our youngest in the bassinet by our bed, we decided to move him into the room with his older siblings. While I’d enjoyed the ease of access for our middle of the night nursing sessions, he was outgrowing the bassinet and my husband and I decided it was time to give him (and me) some space to sleep.
It went horribly. He really struggled going to sleep each night, and then struggled even more to stay settled. He had to have a bottle to go to sleep, while being snuggled (preferably on a specific corner of the couch). And then would start stirring no matter how gently he was laid down. I spent many nights propped on the rocker in their room not sleeping while I waited for his next middle of the night wakeup. In addition, I was trying to keep my other two littles from waking up. So I got approximately zero hours of sleep each night, which was not conducive to me functioning at my full-time job.
After a few months of this, and without it getting any better, we made the leap to from the crib to a toddler bed. At least this way we could lay him down more gently without having to bend over the sides of a crib. Each night I’d sneak my Bubs into his bed after our bedtime snuggle sesh, praying he didn’t wake up as I crept into my room.
Relieved after a few minutes, thinking we had a reprieve for the night, my husband and I would finish our evening routine and head to bed. And then, each night, without a doubt, our little one would climb out of his bed and into mine. At first, he’d whine until I woke up and pulled him into bed. Eventually, though, he progressed to the point where he didn’t even need to wake me. I’d just rouse in the middle of the night with a little wiggle snuggled up next to me.
Now, I mostly expect it. Each night between 12 and 2am, I wake to the sound of little footsteps sneaking down the hall. I throw off the covers and let my little snuggle bug crawl into my bed. Once he is nestled in the middle of Mom and Dad, he goes right to sleep. Some nights he kicks and flips and flops and makes me uncomfortable. But mostly, I kind of love it.
What Do We Do Now?
It seems like we’re deep in it, huh? I guess we are. And I hate it. My dude is now five. I’m exhausted, and I wish my little buddy would just SLEEP. IN. HIS. BED. We are making progress. He goes to sleep each night in his own bed. And occasionally, he stays there. But, mostly, in the middle of the night, he creeps in my bed and snuggles down to sleep. And also I love it.
I feel like the ship has sailed on changing his sleep patterns. If I’d felt more strongly, or been more diligent, perhaps I could have had him cry it out — miraculously, without waking the rest of the house. But, he’s stubborn and I’m tired so I’ve given up on forcing him to self-soothe and walking him back to his bed. Now I gladly accept his presence beside me each night. Why? Because I know this is all only for a season.
Before I was a mom, or when I was a new mom, I firmly planted myself in the camp that said that kids sleep in one room and parents in another. Everyone sleeps best that way, I believed. And while that may be true, what I’ve come to learn is that everyone sleeps best however they sleep best. My oldest has slept through the night, on her own, since she was eight weeks old. My middle son sleeps great 80% of the time; but sometimes he wakes up with nightmares or growing pains and needs to be calmed back to sleep. My little buddy, he goes to sleep in his bed, but when street noise, or even the sound of the fan in his room wakes him up, he sleeps best by finding his Momma. I know it won’t be this way forever. So, for now, I am just fine with that. One day soon, he’ll sleep all night — and then all day — in his bed far away from me. So for now, I’ll take the snuggles.