There's lots of established milestones listed in that baby book (the one that, let's face it, you're probably never going to fill out). First tooth. First solid foods. First steps. First trip away from home. But often unlisted are the co-sleeping milestones you'll reach in the first month of your baby's life. Now, I know those of you who have never co-slept are probably wondering how many milestones a person can experience in a month. And to that I say: oh sweet summer child.
Co-sleeping can mean a couple of things: it can be sharing a room with a child (which is recommended by the American Academy of Pediatrics) or it can mean sharing a bed (which the AAP does not recommend). For the purposes of this article, I'm talking about bed-sharing, which is how I slept with my own babies for the first 10 and 14 months of their lives. It was a journey, to say the least.
Despite my pre-kid assertions about "things I would never, ever, ever even try," I wound up really enjoying bed-sharing. I found everyone in the family got more sleep that way. It also facilitated breastfeeding and created a nice, cozy atmosphere that promoted bonding. Not everyone feels this way because, well, it's not a universal principle (at least not in the United States). But for my family it worked great, and it meant reaching these milestones in only a month's time:
At Least One Half-Awake Moment Of Panic
It makes sense, since one should be cautious going into bed-sharing. So of course there will be moments, particularly sleep deprived moments, when you freak out that something is amiss. Like that time I was convinced my baby, who was literally right next to me, wasn't there because she learned to crawl (at a few weeks old) and was about to tumble down the stairs.
This waking dream didn't last long, but long enough to really get my adrenaline going.
Waking Up In A Puddle
It could be your own breast milk. Or spit up. Or pee. Or poop. Or sweat (yours or the babies, because that many bodies in a bed can make things toasty). Hell, it could be the postpartum vaginal discharge that's still coursing out of you a month after delivery. There's no limit to what it could be or what combination of things it is, but it is going to happen. Just roll with it.
Changing Sheets In The Middle Of The Night
Bonus points if you don't wake the baby...
... but you're going to wake the baby and you shouldn't take that personally.
Laying Down A Towel When You Really Should Change The Sheets
"What the? Oh. The baby spit up.
*grabs spit cloth and gingerly places it over the mess*
This will be fine until morning. It's baby spit up. It's not like real vomit or anything. It's sort of cute. Anyway, my mom and aunties tell me I'm going to miss this one day, so I may as well bask in it for as long as I can, right? Take that Big Laundry Detergent! I'm not going to let you steal my motherhood!"
Discovering Countless Horrible Sleep Positions
Seriously, within a month you will contort yourself into positions you never knew possible and sleep in them. Your back will be jacked. Your shoulders will be a knotty mess. But, miraculously, this will get you more sleep than the alternatives.
You'll also marvel at how your partner (if you sleep with one) never seems to get into those positions. You, if you're like me, will be filled with equal parts resentment and awe.
Sleeping On Approximately 3 Centimeters Of Mattress
I've never felt more like a mother than when I slept, and I mean actually slept, with one butt cheek clinging on for dear life.
Falling Out Of Bed
Because half-assing it will only get you so far.
Your Baby Farting In Your Face
"What?!" you ask. "Gross! How is the baby's butt anywhere near your face to begin with."
Oh. It gets there. One way or another, whether you move or they move or both of you move, you're going to wind up with your baby's adorable tush in your face and it will instantly become less adorable when you catch of whiff of the hideous smells it can produce up close.
Fun fact that some non-parents don't know: babies have baby-sized butts but have the farts of grown men.
Waking Up With A Toe In Your Nose
OK, that one is genuinely funny, both because feet are sort of low-risk when they're infants and it's like, "No, but really, how did we get into this position."
Developing Your Own Sign Language With Your Partner
Talking in bed isn't going to happen for a while, because you just can't risk waking up that baby. As such, you and your partner will create an elaborate system of facial expressions and hand motions in order to communicate. It almost certainly won't be a formal collection of signs, like American Sign Language (though, if you legitimately come up with your own language, kudos), but you'll get pretty good at communicating without speaking.
Deciding Whether You Love It Or Hate It
This isn't an across the board assessment, but I generally believe that within a month you have a pretty good idea as to whether or not co-sleeping is right for you and your family. Now, whether you're able to break that habit or continue based on that judgment is another story. Good luck with that one, kids.