Bed-sharing is pretty prevalent in most parts of the world, but tends to be quite controversial in the United States. While more than a few parents assume it's dangerous I, personally, think it's the best damn thing ever. Still and even in spite of all the pros that made bed-sharing the right sleep situation for my kids and my family, there were things I wasn't ready for after I started bed-sharing, too. Little surprises, if you will. In the end (as with everything else associated with parenting) the baby books can only prepare you for so much.
When I first started bed-sharing, I was doing so thanks to an overwhelming amount of sheer desperation. My baby hated sleep and loved nursing and I was losing it. I was exhausted and stressed and about to snap. One night, I'd had enough and gently put him next to me in bed. It was bliss. I slept better than I had since before I got pregnant, in fact. Since that night, there has been at least one kid (and sometimes two kids) in bed with me and my partner, and I've taken to using the term "family bed" pretty frequently as a result. Bed-sharing is our norm. We follow the rules for doing it safely, and it has been a huge boon.
Even though I loved bed-sharing from the minute we started, there were a few surprises along the way, and more than a few things I wasn't exactly prepared to experience. I guess I can just chalk the entire "surprise factor" of bed-sharing to the undeniable fact that no matter what, motherhood is going to throw you more than a few curve balls. Yay.
Kicks In The Face
Or smacks or hair pulling or a tiny human being's entire body on the face. Even the littlest babies are capable of some crazy nighttime shenanigans, and the gymnastics they can perform as they get older is nothing short of amazing (painful, but amazing).
Sleeping Without Any Covers Or Blankets
Per safe bed-sharing rules, you should sleep with either no covers or just a light sheet. For people who like to burrow deep under a pile of blankets, this is not an easy to change to get used to.
Being Peed On...
As baby gets older, there will definitely be some leaky diaper action happening. If you bed-share into those beloved toddler years, where potty training becomes a necessity, I guarantee you (on more than a few occasions) you'll be waking up in a puddle of pee. Motherhood is just the best, right?
...Or Puked On
Yep. It happens at night, too. Your kid will sit straight up in bed in the middle of the night and, way before you have a chance to process what in the hell is happening and react appropriately, you will get puked on.
In my experience, it's best to just let them puke on the sheets or comforter rather than the carpet. Laundry is way easier than carpet cleaning.
It is amazing how much space such a small person requires. Prepare to cling to the side of the bed like a barnacle. Inevitably, the child will turn perpendicular to you and kick you in either the ribs or the side of the head (or both, because they're talented like that).
Breastfeeding When I'm Still Sleeping
If you've chosen and are able to breastfeed, chances are your baby will get so adept at dreamfeeding that it turns into something more like sneak-feeding. Honestly, you probably won't even wake up for it. You'll only know it happened because you're not engorged and rocking torpedo boobs in the morning.
Actually Getting Some Decent Sleep
In spite of all the not-so-great parts of bed-sharing, I actually slept better than when I had the bed all to myself. There is an undeniable comfort in having your baby nearby and close enough to touch and snuggle. Plus, sleep becomes not just rest time, but also bonding time, and that's kind of the best.
Falling In Love With It
I was not anticipating actually falling in love with bed-sharing. In fact, I thought it would be a means to an end; a blip on the parenting radar that would end up with a baby who slept through the night and would then move into his own sleeping space. Yeah, I was wrong. I totally love it, and honestly can't imaging not having my baby by my side when we sleep.
Not Wanting My Kid To Sleep In Their Own Bed
In fact, I love it so much and have gotten so used to it, that the idea of transitioning him to his own bed makes me incredibly sad. When I transitioned my older son to solo-sleeping, I was a wreck worrying about him. What if he wakes up alone, what if he has a nightmare, what if someone climbs in his window and takes him (yes, I really worried about that).
Still Bed-Sharing, Four Years Later
As soon as my older son moved to his own bed, his baby brother moved into the family bed. In fact, that's why we moved our oldest; because we brought a new baby home from the hospital. For almost five years, I've had a kid in bed with me when I go to sleep at night. Yeah, I wouldn't change a thing.