Sunday, July 04, 2004

I Love Sleeping with my Child, a.k.a. I Hate Sleeping with my Child

We are a cosleeping family. In the world of new parenthood, there are the ardent lefties and the ardent righties, with many different styles in between. Living through sleepless nights with your child is really tough, and therefore the rights and the lefts really get going on this topic.

After much fretting and much thought, I really come down to the left of centre because it just feels right. Breastfeeding, babywearing (what a hilarious word), cosleeping, etc., etc. Card-carrying member of the La Leche League, that's me.

Anyway, if you had told me 2 years ago that I would be sleeping with my child, I would have said that you are crazy. It sounds rather barbaric in our culture to have children in your bed. But then we brought Bobo home from the hospital, and reality set in. Do you leave this tiny, vulnerable, immature animal alone in a dark room all night? How do you know he's breathing? What if he needs you but you can't hear him, even with a baby monitor? It was all decided when Jim said, "Well, really, they give a clock to a puppy who has to sleep alone. Why is it all right that this human baby has to sleep alone?"

So, from then on, there was a Sprout in the bed.

I have slept alone for most of my life, and I like to have lots of room to toss and turn, so it was quite an adjustment for me. Babies are BED PIGS, let me tell you. I have learned to sleep in a way that I no longer get kicked in the face or boob by a surprisingly strong tiny foot. I still wake up sometimes, though, wedged between Jimbo and Sprout, like 3 peas in a pod. Erg.

What I don't like about sleeping with my baby: being kicked in the face; getting peed on or puked on, or having to sleep in the wet spot after the deed is done; being awoken from a deep sleep with a blood-curdling scream right in my ear because someone has gas; sleeping with covers on half my body because someone doesn't like to sleep under the covers and kicks them off; worrying that I would squish my baby (quickly realized, though, that like the books say, a nursing, attached mother does not sleep deeply with her child, and will awaken at the slightest baby noise); not sleeping deeply for many, many nights in a row; being asked for breastmilk six times in one night ("Mummy! Mook!")(this only happens when his teeth hurt); always keeping one brain cell tuned to preventing the child from rolling off the bed; being whacked in the face with the cherished stuffed monkey; being invited to kiss the soggy, slimy (snot boogers) cherished stuffed monkey.

What I like about sleeping with my baby: feeling certain that I always know he's breathing or can check by rolling over; being able to check for fever if I think he's sick, by rolling over; not having to get out of bed to get him a drink; never having to hang over the edge of a crib in the middle of the night because someone won't go back to sleep; having an additional someone to hug when it's cozy in bed; being able to comfort him so quickly when he's upset about something in his sleep; knowing that cosleeping babies statistically have fewer nightmares than babies who sleep alone; kissing his head whenever I want; squeezing his little feet while he sleeps; listening to him talk in his sleep ("Walk outside!"); watching him smile in his sleep; staring at him while he sleeps whenever I want (sleeping babies are so beautiful); watching him stretch, roll over, sit up, smile, and say, "Read da book!" (it's true - you have never seen someone go from Zero to Perky so fast).

Some days I think it's the best thing in the world, cosleeping, and other days I wake up thinking I hope I make it through the day, because I'm so tired. Occasionally, I go to bed at 8:30 p.m., just to be able to function the next day. Sometimes I don't even know why I do it, but then I remember when he was little and had such trouble sleeping. If I had had to try to get him to sleep alone in a crib, life would have been pure hell. I was awake a lot, but at least I was awake lying down!

As it is, we keep doing it. Sprout will sleep in his own bed someday, and even though I will likely sleep better, I know I will miss him and his chubby little feet.


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