"Co-sleeping is for co-dependent hippies!" I declared before having children. "Who has two thumbs and is never, ever going to bring her child into bed? This girl!" As you can imagine, once my son was born that resolution lasted about three weeks. Sure, I ate crow, but I was comforted by the fact that for me and my family co-sleeping was the bee's knees and allowed us to cozy up and get more sleep. Of course, I'd be lying if I said bed-sharing isn't without drawbacks. There are weird sleep positions every co-sleeping parent will understand, and by "weird" I usually mean, "Holy cow, this is so ridiculous and uncomfortable I can't believe I've made this life choice."
Here's the secret to parenting "they" don't tell you: for the first, like, year at least, babies really don't care about you. Oh, don't worry. They love you, sure. Infants can recognize their mother's smell and milk and voice basically right away. At the very least they need you, because they're babies and what the hell else do they even know about literally anything? However, despite that intimate and beautiful connection you share with your baby, your little one is probably pretty preoccupied with themselves, and will be for a significant amount of time. S, in their mind, who gives a you-know-what that the way they sleep negatively affects your sleep and comfort? That's right, no one.
Which means, in the end you'll probably find yourself in some weird sleep positions in an attempt to find some sweet, sweet unconsciousness in the middle of all that co-sleeping. What absurd positions are you going to find yourself in, once you and your kid share a sleep space? Here are just a few:
In this position, your baby has, over the course of the night, more or less conquered the entirety of your bed. They're nestled comfortably in the exact middle of the mattress, leaving you to stake a claim in the only spot they can't reach — the very bottom. You're basically the family dog now, subserviently attempting to carve out some room for yourself in the tiny scrap of real estate you've been allotted by your superiors.
Sure, you could try to move your child, but then you run the risk of waking them. You quickly realize that sleeping at the bottom of the bed is going to get you more shut-eye than attempting to reclaim your usual spot. Honestly, of all the positions, this one may be the best metaphor for parenting in general: your child is absolutely going to take over more of your home and life than you possibly could have imagined.
Have you ever been stuck between two people having a conversation, and you can't really move so you wind up just kind of sliding down a little bit in an attempt to preserve some personal space while better accommodating them? The Quicksand position is kind of like that.
In it, you are situated between your partner and your child. These two are doing great! They're super cozy, but they've also pretty much forgotten you're there and are closing in on you from both sides. You can't really free yourself from your current position, so you wind up shimmying yourself down so now your head is at about the level of their chests or waists. It's just like sinking in quicksand, only you're surrounded by loved ones and blankets.
The Philippe Petit
Philippe Petit is the famous daredevil who walked a tight rope between the Twin Towers in 1974. In this position, you will channel your inner Petit as you precariously balance on the furthest edge of your bed. Feel the rush of adrenaline (while trying to sleep, so not the greatest combo) when your child nudges you but you somehow manage to not fall. Revel in the knowledge that your core is getting a Pilates-level work out since it has to remain engaged just so you can stay in place.
The Roadkill Deer
Have you ever seen a deer at the side of the road? It's sad, and it isn't at all pretty. If you're a co-sleeping parent, seeing an unnatural and uncomfortable looking tangle of limbs will probably instill you with a sense of déjà vu, because we've been there, deer. We feel you.
Little kids sleep in weird positions and so, when you're co-sleeping, you sometimes have to follow suit so that everyone has some space. It's not always unusual to find one arm bent behind your head while another crosses over your own neck with your legs twisted up like a pretzel. I'd say you get used to it but, well, no. Not really. It basically always sucks.
The Parent Trap
This is when your child has brought you and your partner together whether you wanted it or not, just like in The Parent Trap. (See how clever that is?!)
However, the co-sleeping Parent Trap isn't nearly as lighthearted, charming, and doesn't have a particularly satisfactory ending for the parents in question. In it, you and your partner are sequestered into a tiny little space on one side of the bed while your child luxuriates over vast tracts of mattress. I hope you and your partner like cuddling, because you're sort of forced to as you attempt to sleep in a cramped heap. If your child is particularly ruthless and ambitious, and if you're not very careful, The Parent Trap can morph into The Double Philippe Petit; which is dreadful and dangerous and will result on someone either falling out of bed or moving to the couch.
This is when your child entwines their tiny little fingers in your hair and yanks as though they're trying to climb to the top of your head in their sleep. "Oh," you say smugly, "I don't have to worry about that. I have short hair."
Your baby DGAF how long your hair is: they are going to pull it in their sleep regardless. My son did this to me on the regular when I had a damn pixie cut. How? I have no clue, but he managed because babies are crafty as hell.
The Lord Of The Dance
Remember Michael Flatley, the Irish dancer who became famous with shows like Riverdance and Lord of the Dance? Remember how quickly he could move his feet? Remember his powerful kicks? Your co-sleeping child will remind you of that beloved '90s icon every damn night by performing their own jig on your face. I don't know how, but a sleeping child's heel always manages to find a parent's face. I know what you're thinking. "How much damage could a little baby foot really do?" My answer is twofold:
1) More than you'd think
2) Even a gentle kick to the face while sleeping is still a kick to the face while sleeping
The Baby Bridge
This is when your child stretches out between you and your partner so that your family collectively forms the letter "H." At first it's kind of annoying, but you quickly realize that amid all the other options out there, this is one of your best bets for getting a decent night's sleep, so you begin to pray for it.
I don't know what inspires a baby to go into The Baby Bridge. Maybe they love both parents so much they want to be touching them both. Maybe they're trying to push their parents apart. Maybe they just want to be different, like "But why do we have to sleep vertically. Go against the grain, sheeple!"
It's a mystery, truly.
In this alternative to The Quicksand, you are once again wedged between your partner and your child with limited space to get comfortable. So you reach your arms up over your head (like you're doing yoga or about to dive into a pool), stretch out as straight as possible and try to sleep. You look like a crayon in a box.
In my experience, this position becomes more and more common the more children share your bed. After we had our second baby, and I felt too guilty to kick out our first when he'd come toddling in (he just wanted a cuddle, guys!), I slept in The Crayon position a lot.
The OMG Stay Little Forever Because This Is Awesome
It's seriously amazing and makes the 9 other horrible positions worth it.