Co-sleeping isn't necessarily a lifestyle choice. It can simply happen to you, much like a horrible stomach virus happens to you, or a really bad dye job. My partner and I fought the good fight but, alas, here we are; with our 2-year-old toddler in our bed every night, like clockwork. We're prisoners of the tiny dictator that is our second child, and at this point all we can do is laugh at our plight because, well, co-sleeping with a child can be creepy.
I mean, yes, there are a few sweet moments here and there when it's actually nice to have our son in our bed. However, those precious situations are outnumbered by the moments in our bed that aren't so nice (or just downright strange). For example, when our son isn't actually sleeping. Honestly, it's all fun and games until your kid wakes up and trashes about like an insane person.
There's a lot that happens in the midnight hours that can often feel like a fever dream. My husband and I will wake up with only hazy recollections of our whereabouts the night before, and random objects will have appeared in our bed or on our persons. Usually and at first, we have trouble explaining what may or may happened, then we'll look between us and see our toddler all bright eyed and bushy-tailed like he's had the best night's sleep ever. Which makes us wonder, in the end, did we imagine it all? Of course, we didn't. Things just got weird and the following moments probably happened:
At Some Point In The Night, There Is A Small Person Eerily Standing At Your Bedside
Even if you've been co-sleeping for some time, it never ceases to be a little freaky when you find yourself awoken by the feeling of a small albeit palpable presence lurking in your bedroom. When you open your eyes, you see a dark little figure swaying unsteadily by your bedside at eye-level. Hard pass.
As a loyal horror-movie enthusiast, many of my own worst nightmares have begun in just such a way, so I'm a little less than thrilled that this scenario plays out in my own bedroom every night. Luckily, my toddler comes bearing soft comfort objects and no knives.
You Wake Up With Unexplained Bruises
I'm the lucky parent because my child has chosen to sleep with his face near my head and his feet facing my husband. But oh, my poor husband. He gets kicked all night long and, for some strange reason, sometimes has his eyes clawed at.
Once, my husband had to wear glasses for three weeks while his cornea healed because my son had scratched it so badly with his fingernails. We will never understand why our son decides to do a 180 in the middle of the night so he can clock my husband in the face with his mitts, only to return to his resting position with his face beside mine. However, I count my blessings (though few) and I don't question.
There Might Be A Container of Milk On The Counter That You Don't Remember Opening
We like to make fun of my mom for her entertaining "Ambien stories" because so many of them involve waking up with trails of food scattered throughout the house. Co-sleeping with a toddler produces similar memories.
I wake up in the morning and there's a giant puddle of milk on the counter that's trickling steadily into the grooves of my wooden floorboards, and next to it's the brand new (now spoiled) container of milk I must have opened in a half-sleep state and then forgot to close and put away. The freezer drawer is also open, which means that the half a dozen ziplock bags of meat sauce we had frozen are now defrosted and congealing into a slick little puddle next to the now-thawed bag of peas and cinnamon waffles. I must have grabbed myself a little snack somewhere along the way, too, because I left a bag of Nestle dark chocolate chips on the counter, which at least explains the brown stain on my shirt (which, as a mom, it's always a relief to find out that stain is chocolate).
You Went to Sleep With Two Pillows But You Woke Up With Zero
I know I went to sleep with my feather pillow plus my special barley wheat pillow that I ordered from Amazon to treat my chronic neck pain thanks to what adds up to roughly four years of nursing my two children. I also know that I fell asleep in a really comfortable position. However, when I wake up in the morning, I'm pillow-less, blanket-less, and clinging to the edge of the mattress for dear life. I can sense my toddler's body pressed against my back, and my dog's body somewhere along my legs. When I lift up my head, there appears to be a fortress of pillows much like the barricade from Les Miserables, with me, the kid, and the dog on one side and my husband on the other.
My husband is no fool.
You Never Really Know Who You're Going To Wake Up Next To
Sometimes you'll instinctively reach out to cuddle what you think is the familiar shoulder or arm of your significant other but, to your surprise, you'll be grabbing your toddler's nostrils.
Co-sleeping means you never really know who is sleeping next to you, so the safest bet is to keep your hands to yourself lest you wake up the toddler that you worked so hard to get back to sleep.
You Realize Your Bed Will Never Be Used For Sexy Time Again
Once the sweet, innocent, cherubic toddler enters the bedroom, gone is all promise of eroticism and sensuality that may have been associated with said bed and so, new associations must be forged.
Enter: the bathroom. Yes, the bathroom is a tricky one because you've already associated it with all kinds of unsexy things, but hey, it is a room with a door and for weary and desperate parents, that can be enough.
You Wake Up With Odd Imprints On Your Body From All Your Kid's Attachment Objects
You know those embarrassing creases you get from sleeping on your pillow all weird? Well, those are nothing compared to when you've been face planting a pacifier, nipple, or teething toy all night. No amount of makeup can make those suckers disappear, so the best you can do is own them. These are your battle scars.
Your Bed Resembles A Playroom In The Morning
When my toddler first came to our bed last night, he brought with him his pacifier, his blankie, and his lovey. At some point in the night, either my husband or I (we can't remember), must have trudged to the kitchen to get another pacifier (or more) because now there are four in my bed. I'm convinced that we both have blacked out the rest of the evening because somehow the bed looks like my living room at the end of a long day spent indoors.
In assessing the full carnage of the night's events, I'm looking at: two board books, a light up candy dispenser that also sings the theme song from the new Trolls movie, three empty bottles of milk, four stuffed animals, a sheet of temporary tattoos, some crayons, a half-eaten granola bar, and a green pipe cleaner. It's amazing there's room for actual people.
Sometimes Your Kid Will Wake You Up Just Because
I know for a fact that my toddler is perfectly capable of sleeping in his own bed at night. On the few occasions when he has slept at his grandma's house or when we have had a babysitter sleep over, he has either slept the entire night in his own bed and had to be woken up in the morning. If he does wake up in the middle of the night, he simply has to be told that it's not yet time to wake up and has gone back to his own bed without protest.
With me and my husband, however, there is no amount of reasoning or trickery that will keep my son in his bed. Every night without fail, my son wakes me up for a number of requests, whether it be for water in the green cup, his other lovey, or just to mess with me for his own entertainment.
You'll Become One Of Those People That Can Sleep Literally Anywhere
My body is kind of like my laptop these days — if left inactive for more than five minutes, I go into sleep mode. I've been surviving on so little sleep for so long, I don't know what it's like to have more than three consecutive hours of it anymore. I nap wherever I can: the subway, cab rides, standing in line for pickup at my kid's school, during conversations that involve other children's accomplishments and milestones. You name the place, and I've probably napped there. #SorryNotSorry