Cosleeping: Nighttime Parenting, Survival, and Love

by Asheya on December 15, 2011

Welcome to the Safe Cosleeping Blog Carnival
This post was written for inclusion in the Safe Cosleeping Blog Carnival hosted by Monkey Butt Junction . Our bloggers have written on so many different aspects of cosleeping. Please read to the end to find a list of links to the other carnival participants.
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The first night after we took my oldest son home from the hospital, we didn’t sleep.  At all.  We were new on the whole parenting scene, so of course it took both of us and an incredible amount of time and effort to take care of Ayden’s nighttime needs.  Diapering a floppy newborn took an agonizing amount of time, wipes, and discussion as we sorted out meconium, an angry infant, and a tiny bum.  Breastfeeding took both of us, four hands, and lots of tears.  Soothing him was a tag team operation; You get the nine to twelve shift and I get twelve to three.
When the sun rose the next morning and our son finally fell into a deep, peaceful sleep, we looked at each other with panic in our eyes.  Was this rigmarole our new reality?

The next night we crashed early.  My mom was visiting and she offered to take Ayden for an hour and walk him, so that we could nap before the night parenting marathon began.  Awhile later she brought him into my bedroom because he was hungry, and settled him in next to me to nurse.  She is a lactation consultant and avid supporter of responsive, nurturing parenting, and a wonderful support during our adjustment to having a baby.  After Ayden nursed, I curled my body around him and fell asleep.  He stayed asleep for hours!  When he woke up next, I nursed him again and he fell back asleep again!  For hours!  A three a.m. diaper change caused a ruckus, but we felt better equipped to handle it given that we had had several hours of sleep prior to that.  What an amazing difference.  Particularly because I had given birth by cesarean, getting in and out of bed to take care of Ayden was unrealistic for me, and took me an incredibly long time.  Sharing our bed with Ayden made responding to his nighttime needs much simpler.

My mom knew some of the safe cobedding tips, so we tried to make our situation as safe as possible for our little guy.  We dressed him warmly and didn’t share our blankets with him.  We stayed away from alcohol and heavy painkillers which might make us too sleepy to safely bedshare.  He slept on his back, as recommended, away from our pillows and blankets.  Our bodies were well synchronized because I breastfed him exclusively and we spent a lot of time skin to skin during the day, so if he stirred it woke me and we gently latched and drifted off to sleep again.  My body naturally curled around him to create a protected nest for him to sleep in unharmed, and my husband and I slept so much more peacefully, there was no going back!
We also enjoyed nestling in as a family.  I remember my husband looking at Ayden sleeping peacefully between us and saying, “I just want him to know we will always be here for him.”  What better way to communicate that, than parenting him responsively at night?  Sharing a bed just made nighttime parenting that much easier, quieter, and sweet.

We have four children, and since that first night, we never looked back.  We have safely coslept with all four of our babies, and encouraged a gradual progression to independent sleep when the time was right for each of them.  Snuggling in with the sweet smell of a baby, encircled with love, is one of my favourite things in the world.

******* Safe Cosleeping Blog Carnival

Thanks for reading a post in the Safe Cosleeping Blog Carnival. On Carnival day, please follow along on Twitter using the #CosleepCar hashtag.
Please take time to read the submissions by the other carnival participants:

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  • Emotive Co-Sleeping Campaign – Miriam at Diary of an Unconscious Mother talks about her feelings on Milwaukee’s anti-cosleeping crusade and its latest advertising campaign.
  • Why Cosleeping has Always been the Right Choice for My Family – Patti at Jazzy Mama shares how lucky she feels to have the privilege of sleeping with her four children.
  • Cosleeping is a safe, natural and healthy solution parents need to feel good about. – See how Tilly at Silly Blatherings set up a side-car crib configuration to meet her and her families’ needs.
  • Black and White: Race and the Cosleeping Wars – Moorea at Mama Lady: Adventures in Queer Parenting points out the problem of race, class and health when addressing co-sleeping deaths and calls to action better sleep education and breastfeeding support in underprivileged communities.
  • Reflections on Cosleeping – Jenny at I’m a Full Time Mummy shares her thoughts on cosleeping and pictures of her cosleeping beauties.
  • Cosleeping and Transitioning to Own Bed – Isil at Smiling Like Sunshine shares her experiences in moving beyond the family bed.
  • What Works for One FamilyMomma Jorje shares why cosleeping is for her and why she feels it is the natural way to go. She also discusses the actual dangers and explores why it may not be for everyone.
  • Really High Beds, Co-Sleeping Safely, and the Humanity Family Sleeper – Jennifer at Hybrid Rasta Mama gives a quick view of Jennifer’s bed-sharing journey and highlights the Humanity Family Sleeper, something Jennifer could not imagine bed-sharing without.
  • Crying in Our Family Bed – With such a sweet newborn, why has adding Ailia to the family bed made Dionna at Code Name: Mama cry?
  • Dear Mama: – Zoie at TouchstoneZ shares a letter from the viewpoint of her youngest son about cosleeping.
  • Cuddle up, Buttercup! – Nada of The MiniMOMist and her husband Michael have enjoyed cosleeping with their daughter Naomi almost since birth. Nada shares why the phrase “Cuddle up, Buttercup!” has such special significance to her.
  • Co-Sleeping With A Baby, Toddler, and Preschooler – Kerry at City Kids Homeschooling shares how co-sleeping calls us to trust our inner maternal wisdom and embrace the safety and comfort of the family bed.
  • Fear instead of Facts: An Opportunity Squandered in Milwaukee – Jenn at Monkey Butt Junction discusses Milwaukee’s missed opportunity to educate on safe cosleeping.
  • Cosleeping: A Mini-rant and a Lovely Picture – Siobhan at Res Ipsa Loquitor discusses her conversion to cosleeping and rants a little bit about the Milwaukee Health Department anti-cosleeping campaign.
  • Our Cosleeping Story – Adrienne at Mommying My Way shares her cosleeping story and the many bonus side effects of bedsharing.
  • Cosleeping can be safe and rewarding Christy at Mommy Outnumbered shares how her cosleeping experiences have been good for her family.
  • Adding one more to the family bed Lauren at Hobo Mama discusses the safety logistics of bed sharing with a new baby and a preschooler.
  • The Truth About Bedsharing – Dr. Sarah at Parenting Myths and Facts discusses the research into bedsharing and risk – and explains why it is so often misrepresented.
  • Cosleeping as a parenting survival tool – Melissa V. at Mothers of Change describes how she discovered cosleeping when her first baby was born. Melissa is the editor and a board member for the Canadian birth advocacy group, Mothers of Change.
  • Dear Delilah – Joella at Fine and Fair writes about her family bed and the process of finding the cosleeping arrangements that work best for her family.
  • CoSleeping ROCKS! – Melissa at White Noise talks about the evolution of cosleeping in her family.
  • Safe Sleep is a Choice – Tamara at Pea Wee Baby talks about safe sleep guidelines.
  • 3 Babies Later: The Evolution of our Family Bed – Kat at Loving {Almost} Every Moment talks about how her family’s cosleeping arrangements evolved as her family grew.
  • Tender MomentsThe Accidental Natural Mama discusses tender cosleeping moments.
  • Cosleeping Experiences – Lindsey at An Unschooling Adventure describes how she ended up co-sleeping with her daughter through necessity, despite having no knowledge of the risks involved and how to minimise them, and wishes more information were made available to help parents co-sleep safely.
  • The early days of bedsharing – Luschka at Diary of a First Child shares her early memories of bedsharing with her then new born and gets excited as she plans including their new arrival into their sleeping arrangements.
  • The Joys of Cosleeping in Pictures – Charise of I Thought I Knew Mama shares pictures of some of her favorite cosleeping moments.
  • Symbiotic Sleep – Mandy at Living Peacefully With Children discusses how the symbiotic cosleeping relationship benefits not only children but also parents.
  • Co-sleeping Barriers: What’s Stopping You? – Kelly at Becoming Crunchy shares how she was almost prevented from gaining the benefits of co-sleeping her family currently enjoys.
  • Co-Sleeping with the Family Humanity Sleeper – Erica at ChildOrganics shares a way to make co-sleeping safe, comfortable and more convenient. Check out her post featuring the Humanity Organic Family Sleeper.
  • Why We CosleepThat Mama Gretchen’s husband chimes in on why cosleeping is a benefit to their family.
  • Adding to the Family Bed – Darah at A Girl Named Gus writes about her co-sleeping journey and what happens when a second child comes along.

A big thank you to all of the Safe Cosleeping Blog Carnival participants!

{ 6 comments… read them below or add one }

Kat December 15, 2011 at 6:22 am

We also would not have survived without cosleeping! I love those first few times when you realize "Hey, they are sleeping!!! This works!!!" Thanks for sharing :-)

Reply

Kerry McDonald, M.Ed. December 15, 2011 at 11:28 am

Such a lovely post and I am so glad to have found your blog as a result of this carnival!

-Kerry @ City Kids Homeschooling

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Fine and Fair December 15, 2011 at 5:59 pm

Reading your post reminded me a bit of my own experience! Beautifully written, and I love that you included the most important tips for safe cosleeping!

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George Smith March 29, 2012 at 6:34 pm

I have the same experience. Not getting enough sleep might really be a problem for most parents, but it will pass.

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Anonymous May 5, 2012 at 7:13 pm

I am Indian and everytime I read about cosleeping, I am both surprised and amused at how big a deal it is in this country. Over a billion people in India and it is UNHEARD of babies sleeping in separate rooms. The rich had cribs but they were in the same room as babies. ALL babies sleep with their parents. 100% of my generation was potty trained by 9 months (I am forty) because there were no diapers. And cloth diapers are a lot hard to clean (no washing machines till 2002 or so). Starting at few weeks, Moms got up through the night and made a sound (shhhhh)and held their babies bottoms over potty tubs to pee. Once the Pavlovian association is made, the babies start peeing to the sound. It is still your job to take them to the potty. The media makes it sound like a ritual from the stone age. It's hilarious. Today, the modern Indian family uses disposable diapers and cribs entered the market some 5-8 years ago so we may be moving in the direction of the west but all but 2 of my friends coslept even in the US. We are professionals so it cannot be attributed to ignorance. It is very natural and common in certain parts of the world. I am really surprised at the reaction of the American media to Miyaim Bailik.

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melissa v. May 7, 2012 at 9:20 pm

Thank you for your comment! Yes, it is true that in a great many cultures cosleeping and co bedding is considered completely normal. I am not sure exactly why it is such a big issue here, but suspect Dr Spock's emphasis on 'hygenic sleep' in the early 1900s is largely to blame…. I love your description of elimination communication, also! And that it is the parent's responsibility to tune into the child's toileting needs. Lots of women I know are practicing this method of addressing elimination; again, an ancient, cultural approach that is making a comeback in Canada!

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