How do you feel about co-sleeping?
Back when I was pregnant and attending antenatal classes you hear about how co-sleeping is basically the devil and that you should never do it because your baby will die. I agreed with all the other parents about how horrible it is and leaned over to my husband and said 'we won't do that'.
But here I am 22 months later and we have co-slept since she was about 2-3 weeks old. This was never my intention and let me tell you that it was a last resort. My daughter had a very nice moses basket but would she stay asleep in it - no. I did try my very best, after 2 weeks my husband went back to work and his job requires a lot of concentration and he could make a big error if he was tired, costing the company a lot of money so I knew that he needed his sleep, the night was all up to me. My daughter would only ever nurse to sleep in my arms and that's where she would stay, after 20 minutes they say they are in a deeper sleep so you can make the gentle transition to a moses basket for sleep. I would lay her down and watch eagerly praying that she would stay asleep. I would get undressed and lie down in bed but not yet would I allow myself to believe that I could actually sleep (oh if only I could just have 2 hours I would be happy) but no as soon as my head touched the pillow and I fantasized about actually getting some sleep she would wake up and cry, I would try to ignore it for a minute or two thinking that in some way my sheer willpower would send her back off to sleep. It wasn't to be and I was back up and nursing on the couch again! My husband didn't want to be woken if I could help it so I wasn't allowed to stay in bed I had to go back into the other room. I was so exhausted and I never got a break.
During the second week with the excruciating pain of breastfeeding with blistered nipples I snapped I admit I 'went off one one' I said that's it I quit amongst other nasty stuff that I didn't mean, the next morning my mother in law came round and agreed with my husband to take care of her and give her formula whilst I had a bath and some much-needed sleep. It must have been the first time in 2 weeks that I managed to sleep for 2 hours straight. I woke up feeling like a new woman.
My daughter still wouldn't sleep anywhere but in my arms attached to my breast. I started nodding off on the couch with her in my arms which was very dangerous, my husband suggested that I lie down in bed with her and feed her here for a while. The side lying position for breastfeeding is very comfortable and I brought her into bed that night. She had no covers on her and we followed all the safety rules (no alcohol, neither of us smoke or took medication etc) and that night was pure bliss we all slept soundly, it was amazing and a real turning point. She woke up a couple of times but I could nurse her lied next to me and it was so much more comfortable and we where all happy, she also went back to sleep a lot quicker because she didn't cry. So that's how we continued, when my husband invited us both into bed he didn't mean it as a permanent thing he meant just the one time but of course that didn't happen and he we are, she is nearly 2 and has her own room complete with toddler bed, peppa pig bedding, the works but she is still yet to sleep in it.
People ask me when are you having a no.2? I reply that I will think about it when she is out of our bed. I admit that the intimacy with my husband has taken a hit and it is not an ideal situation, but for now it's working for us. People tell me to just put her in her toddler bed and leave her, I can't leave her to cry I just can't it's not in me and I refuse to try the crying out method as she doesn't understand, sleeping next to mummy is all she has ever known. She is at the age now where she understands some things so I'm going to wait until she can be reasoned with and make her look forward to being a big girl in her own special bed. If anyone has any tips if you have been in a similar situation I would appreciate any advice in the comments section below.
I also get asked would I co-sleep again? my answer is always no! not unless again it is a last resort. Next time I would get one of those bedside co-sleeper cribs like the Snuz Pod so it would be the best of both worlds. I could still breast feed the baby to sleep lied down comfortably and then transfer it into its co-side crib. They weren't as readily available back then and they were out of our price range but now they have come down in price a bit and I know that you can even rent them.
In the early days it was hard after hearing how horrible it was to co-sleep so I would be embarrassed and think that something must be wrong with us, I would lie when any visitors came around and say that she slept in her moses basket but the reality was no one understood. I found support in online forums and Facebook groups all of people in the same situation. I never wanted to co-sleep but it does have it positives such as all the special cuddles that I get and how she falls asleep with her arm around me. It also helped me a lot in the early days as I could hear her breathing so I always knew that she was ok any first time parent knows how paranoid you get and how many times you check that they are still breathing.
I am jealous of parents who put their child to bed at 7pm and then have some time together or alone time, I've always had to go to bed when she goes to bed so there have been times where I have been in bed at 7.30-8pm. Now she only goes to sleep about 9.30-10pm and wakes up about 8.30am. I know that this is unconventional but it works for our family and she is happy. I have spoken to the health visitor about our situation who is supportive, she has given me advice on how to make the transfer over into her own bed but I know there will be a lot of tears.
I'm writing this post to let anyone else in the same situation know that you are not alone and you are not a bad parent, just make sure that you follow the safe sleeping guidelines and enjoy your special time together. Don't be afraid to reach out for support from other co-sleeping parents if you need it. - Jodie x