It seems like whenever someone mentions their baby waking up frequently at night, someone else suggests co-sleeping as an answer. The way co-sleeping moms described their sleeping arrangements made me imagine that co-sleeping involved a giant bed with white sheets and a peacefully snoring baby snuggled next to you. When I decided to co-sleep, I discovered that, in reality, co-sleeping is more like trying to sleep while a drunk octopus pees on you and pokes you in the eye. Seriously, people need to stop romanticizing co-sleeping. Like so many other parts of parenting, the reality isn't pretty and involves way more bodily fluids than you would have ever imagined.
When I was pregnant with my first child, I swore I would never bring her to bed with me. I mean, I had always planned on having her sleep in our room for the first couple of months, but she was never going to sleep in bed with us. Never. Then I brought her home from the hospital and all hell broke loose. She nursed the entire night, you guys, waking up whenever I set her down in her bassinet. It was horrible. She cried, I cried, my husband woke up, everyone panicked, and we all cried some more. So, I started co-sleeping with her. First in the co-sleeper, and then in bed next to me. By "next to me," of course, I mean on me, scratching me with her sharp baby-nails. Ironically, I co-slept because I was desperate for sleep, but there was no sleep to be had. She woke several times a night, ultimately deciding that morning began at 3:00 a.m. and literally could not fall asleep on her own.
Then my second child was born. Second verse, the same as the first, but worse, because my toddler and my newborn wanted to sleep in our bed. That's when I decided enough was enough. I had read the studies about safety and decided that our bed would be off limits. Which is good, because child one and child two still come to our room in the middle of the night. Co-sleeping, my friends, is the true The Neverending Story, and we need to stop romanticizing it.
Because It Can Be Dangerous
According to the American Academy of Pediatrics' safe sleep recommendations, babies should sleep in the same room as their parents but on a separate, flat surface on their backs for their first year of life. This can reduce the risk of sleep-related death by as much as 50 percent.
Of course, when you are desperate for sleep, these recommendations can sound like they come from people who have never tried to calm a screaming newborn who can't fall asleep without being held.
Because You Don't Necessarily Get More Sleep
I wish I could say that co-sleeping and bed-sharing fixed my babies' sleep issues, but it just didn't. In fact, my newborn, who has never slept in bed with us, has been sleeping through the night in his bassinet since he was about 10 weeks old. Who knew?
Because Of That Crick In Your Back
No matter how much yoga I do, it seems like motherhood — especially co-sleeping — has put a permanent crick in my back, neck, and shoulders. Mama needs a massage (and about a month of sleep).
Because Your Sex Life Might Suffer
My crunchy mom friends would always wink and giggle when I asked if co-sleeping interfered with their sex life. Then I experienced it myself, and somehow, the baby always seems to wake up, the toddler knocks on the door, or the tween barges in right as I am about to have the best orgasm. Does co-sleeping impact our sex life? Yes, yes it does.
Because Accidents Happen
If you think there's nothing worse than a toddler wetting the bed, it's a toddler wetting your bed while you're in it. Ugh.
Because Of Early Bedtimes
My daughter (who co-slept for almost two years) literally couldn't fall asleep without me until she was 4 years old. My son (who also co-slept) is now 4 years old, and still needs an adult to lie next to him at bedtime. Sometimes, honestly, I just give up and sleep with them.
Meanwhile, my non-bed sharing newborn falls asleep on his own in his bassinet.
Because Of Late Night Interruptions
My husband and I have five children. On any given night, at least one of them asks to sleep with us. The Neverending Story. Literally.
Because There's Not Enough Room For Everyone
We have a freaking king-sized bed. King-sized. However, when there is a child in it with us, it feels more like a cradle or a coffin, depending on my level of sleep deprivation. Well, they say you can sleep when you're dead...
Because Of Early Wake-Ups
Why do babies and toddlers seem to think that morning begins before the sun rises? Please, dear children, mama needs some sleep or mama is gonna lose it.
Because It Fosters Co-Dependence
Once, in response to my whining about my toddler and preschooler both needing me to be with them to fall asleep, one of my fellow co-sleeping friends said sarcastically, "It's not as if they will still be sleeping in your bed when they go off to college."
Well, I hate to tell you this, guys, but the tween came to bed with us the other night. Maybe if they go away for college we'll finally get a full nights' sleep. Of course, at that point we'll probably be up all night worrying about them. Moms can't win. Seriously.