When I had my first baby I had all the cots and rockers and bassinettes and things that one could procure. I brought her home from the hospital, sitting in the back of the car and holding her tiny little hand and put her happily in the cot, thinking she might lay there and fall asleep.
As soon as her tiny body touched the mattress she screamed. So I carried her around a bit.
She got drowsy, her little head drooped.
I put her gently back in the cot.
Her eyes opened like searchlights. “WAAAAHHHHHH!”
Image: Ccmackay, MorgueFile
Eventually, tired and overwhelmed, sore from birth and hungry from breastfeeding I got my husband to drag the mattress off the bed so if she fell it would be a few centimeters onto a cushion, and I lay down, tucking her in the crook of my arm.
She is now four, and still what we fondly refer to as an ‘armpit baby’.
Determined not to make the same mistake with 'Baby Deux', again tiredness and sad wailing got the better of me and I let her sleep in the bed – on my unoccupied side.
Image: Bjwebbiz, MorgueFile
So now we ALL sleep, two adults and two kids, on a couple of dang mattresses on the bloody floor in the bloody baby safe room; my husband usually luxuriating with a whole single mattress to himself, whilst I, who has not had REM sleep in almost five years, sleeps with a little nappied bottom in my face on one side, and sticky little paws dug into in my hair on the other.
They chatter, they kick me in the face, they snore, I am woken up by being kissed, sung to, and on several occasions with my head being sat on. They wake up and play with each other like puppies, I find lumpy My Little Ponies under my pillow and I occasionally get bitten. I spent the first year of each child’s life sleeping like a cat because I was afraid to squash them – now I suffer from the sort of sleeping wakefulness that I can only assume is most often felt by a journalist in a war zone.
Image: Vahiju, MorgueFile
I never wanted to co-sleep, it just sort of happened to us. But I do enjoy the snuggles and the sleepy little faces nestling into me. I imagine that the day they decide they don’t want to sleep there I will be devastated, but for the time being I just do whatever it takes to ensure I get at least some sleep at night, even if it is across the foot of the bed.
I practiced attachment parenting and we also had a 'family bed' at one point where all 5 of us slept. My youngest son who is now 8, still asks to snuggle in bed with me and will occasionally fall asleep there.
I loved this article...and I love the whole concept of co-sleeping. My daughter (now 22) always co-slept with my husband and I from babyhood until early teens, eventually growing out of it at around 14. Although she always had her room, she just seemed to like the security of being able to come in and snuggle up with us when she felt like it. From time to time she'd want to test out having her own room but would often come into our room later, in the middle of the night, with her teddy bear and pillow in hand. Beautiful memories and I was a bit sad when that extended phase ended...but life is full of changes, and that's part of its magic.
I agree, I think its important that kids have their own space too - my elder daughter has her own 'room' but it is really just a playroom and a lego minefield!
I think that kids gain confidence from co-sleeping. Not that I ever think that one way of parenting is 'all right', but I do believe that the confidence that my kids show at a young age might be to do with co-sleeping.