We’ve taken an afternoon nap together every day since the day he was born. He listens to my heartbeat, and I listen to his tiny breaths. It’s hard to believe that, while he still fits perfectly under my chin right now, someday he will be a fully grown man that could smush me under his weight.
I’m definitely one to follow research, rules and guidelines, especially when in doubt…but the longer I’ve been a mother, the more I trust my ability to cosleep with my kids. Like most moms, I have worried and worried all about SIDS, and I read everything I can about preventing it. I fully understand the back-to-sleep campaign, firm mattress, etc. We even run a fan even though I hate it because it supposedly lowers risk at night, and what does it hurt?
But the baby sleeps in bed next to me for a brief period almost every night, and we nap together every day. To me, it seems so natural and healthy; I can’t imagine a cavewoman leaving her baby alone in a corner for safety. I’m talking about bedsharing here not because I recommend it for others, but because I feel like it needs to come out of the closet. I was afraid to admit this to my pediatrician because I thought he would think I was a bad mother for ignoring such an important rule. Instead, when I was finally honest, he gently suggested ways to be safer while doing so.
Generally, I don’t subscribe to the whole family-bed concept, although it’s fine for others. It’s just logistically difficult in our house. My kids sleep upstairs in their own rooms, and they never, EVER come downstairs into ours at night. This is a big benefit (or drawback, depending on your perspective?) of a main floor master. But the baby’s crib will remain next to our bed until he gets his own room after we’re done breastfeeding. I can pull him into my bed for a midnight snack and a snuggle whenever he requests it. I usually turn the lights on low (Don wears this amazing sleep mask that he swears is the best gift I ever gave him) and watch Baby R eat while I stroke his hair. Sometimes, I stay awake. Other times, I snooze. When he’s done, I immediately try to put him back in the crib. Most of the time Little Man goes right down, but if he needs a little extra cuddling, I don’t hesitate to bring him back in bed with me. I make sure my blanket isn’t touching him, and that he isn’t too close to get trapped against me; our king size bed is plenty big enough for 3. I sleep on my side and make a little protective “C” around him with my arms and legs. I don’t drink or take any medications that make me a heavy snoozer, so I awaken pretty much any time he moves…and yet, I somehow always feel well-rested afterwards.
With B, I rarely did this, because I was afraid to. (It’s also worth noting that I suffered from PPD for a good year and a half after her birth…in part, I’m sure, due to pure exhaustion. Read about that here.) With W, cosleeping became more common, and I don’t doubt that it contributed to me being significantly more well-rested during that first year of life. With R, it’s a daily occurrence, if not a long one, because I am much more confident in the benefits that occasional SAFE bed-sharing confers on us both.
I also bought an Owlet monitor this time, which sets off a loud alarm any time his O2 levels or heart rate go above/below a certain threshold. I winced when I put this gadget in my cart at first; it was $300 and this is my third baby; was it really necessary? But it has given me a tremendous sense of comfort when sleeping to know that something else is watching him even when I cannot. I am not jumping out of bed ten times a night like I did with B to check if she was breathing. When doing my research, I found that the Owlet is not a tool recommended by the AAP or any other legitimate pediatric/sleep organization, but I personally am REALLY glad we got it nonetheless. (Thank you, EPiC, for the Target giftcard that I used to pay for most of it! Also…obviously not ad. No one pays me to do anything around here. 🙂 ) We had an Angelcare movement monitor before, and this is a huge upgrade IMO.
Although he is only 4 weeks old as of this writing, I already know I will miss our midday naps and his late-night-neediness tremendously when my maternity leave and then the nursing season is over. It is the sweetest part of every day.
Did you (or do you still) sleep with your kiddos? No judgment here! Feel free to drop heart-tugging pic of an adorable sleeping child, whether they are in your bed or their own!