It's amazing to think that, before I had children, I didn't even contemplate co-sleeping. I know there are lots of families that plan to co-sleep, but we were not one of them, and because it wasn't part of my initial parenting plan there are so many things I wish I knew when I started co-sleeping with my kids. None of my close friends had done it, at least in any formal way, and we even had a crib ready for when my daughter graduated out of the bassinet next to our bed.
Like many parents who end up unintentionally co-sleeping with their kids, I had a baby who just wouldn't stop crying when I put her in the crib. She had been perfectly happy to sleep in her bassinet for five months, but when we transitioned her to a larger crib she would cry until she threw up her recent meal of breast milk. This was unacceptable, especially since I had a child who was at the bottom of the growth curve, literally in the first-to-third percentile for weight. So, she ended up in our bed.
I swore up and down that when I became pregnant with my second child, he would not end up in our bed as well. After a scratched cornea, impacted sleep, and a rather clingy daughter, I wanted to try things the other way with kid number two. Again, we lasted about five months, until he became very sick with bronchiolitis and couldn't breathe well unless he was at a specific angle on his chest, so he slept on top of me. I transitioned him back into his crib when he got better and then he got bronchiolitis again and, well, guess where he still sleeps now, more than a year later?
We are working on transitioning the kids to sleeping on their own. It hasn't been all bad but hasn't been super easy, and I still can't say whether I'd have done things differently if I knew then what I know now. Either way, I do have some wisdom to pass along to anyone else at the cusp of entering a co-sleeping scenario, so it wasn't all for nothing, right?
I Can Sleep On Less Than Six Inches Of The Bed
I remember the good old days, when my husband and I would get ticked off at one another for creeping over to the other side of the bed in our sleep. As if we actually needed the entire half of the bed! I am living proof that you can sleep on your side, with your arms over the edge of the bed, and not fall off.
I Should Have Invested In A King Bed A Long Time Ago
At one point, when my daughter was three and my son was eight months, the four of us were all sleeping together in a queen bed. It was insane. Now my daughter sleeps in her own bed (sometimes with me in it with her) but I'm actually getting a king bed this weekend anyways because never again.
I Can Sleep Through My Child Trying To Wake Me Up, Even When She's Directly Beside Me
I always thought I'd hear the faintest movement or sigh from my kids, because of that fabled mother-child bond that everyone experiences. Turns out, I was completely wrong. I can sleep through anything once they're night weaned.
How Much Judgement I'd Feel From Friends And Family
Let me be clear: it's not all of my friends and family. There is definitely a subset of the more traditional parents in our life who have implied that we are crazy, though.
How Much More Likely The Kids Would Be To Fall Back Asleep In The Early Mornings
This has been an added bonus that sometimes happens (like it did this morning). One of the kids wakes up at 5am, and they can be coaxed and cuddled back to sleep, because our response time is far quicker than if they were in another room.
Putting My Kids Into A Bed And Then Walking Away Is A Pipe Dream
Sometimes, it would be nice to just read my kids a story or two and then tuck them in and walk away, instead of lying with them as they fall asleep over the next 45 minutes. Especially when we have company over.
I Will Always Wonder If They'd Sleep Better On Their Own
It's taken four years for my daughter to sleep through the night. I always hear about sleep-trained kids sleeping through the night from a very young age and then wonder why that is, and if it's better for them. I wasn't about to do any exhaustive research while it was happening, though, so it is what it is.
Night Weaning While Co-Sleeping Is Impossible
With both my kids, the goal was to make it to one full year of breastfeeding. With both my kids, the one year mark passed and I was left wondering when they would sleep through the night, which had me feeling like a 24-hour buffet. With both my kids, it took me sleeping in another bed for them to finally stop breastfeeding in the night.
The Stories About Kids Spontaneously Deciding To Sleep In Their Own Beds Are Bullsh*t
These are lies. I actually know zero kids who have done this before the age of about seven. Once they're in there, why the hell would they want to leave?
Kids Can Be Downright Violent When They Sleep
I think everyone knows this conceptually, but when you have to live through it every night, you learn it on a whole new level. For instance, when my daughter was two, she turned over in her sleep one night in a way that sent her adorable but disgusting fingers into my eye. My eye started watering, and it hurt a lot, but I shrugged it off and went back to sleep, figuring it would just heal over the next few hours. I was wrong, and after a few more hours of pain and a constantly tearing eye, I went for an emergency optometrist appointment, where I found out that my daughter had given me a deep scratch on my cornea. Deep enough that I needed to wear a contact lens for a week, to keep it from tearing further. Thanks, kid.
It Takes A Lot Of Work To Avoid Just Becoming Roommates With My Partner
In the early days with a baby or two, it doesn't seem like that big of a deal, because you may not be thinking about sex all that often anyway. Over time, though? Well, over time the snuggles you used to have with your partner get replaced by snuggles with your kids, and soon your relationship can feel platonic. It takes a concerted effort to maintain the romantic inclinations when there's a kid between the two of you almost constantly.