I knew, early on, how co-sleeping would affect my son. In fact, I was explicitly told by doctors and nurses that co-sleeping would help my son regulate his body temperature; something his body was failing to do a few hours after he was born. I watched as my body sustained his, even after he was no longer in the womb, in complete awe of how beneficial co-sleeping can be. I didn't realize, however, just how co-sleeping can affect your romantic relationship; not until a few months later when my partner and I had found ourselves constantly co-sleeping, reaping both the rewards and the pitfalls.
I was honestly a little worried that co-sleeping would kill the romance and passion between myself and my partner. We were already trying to adjust to parenthood, exhausted and sort of worried and kind of clueless, so the idea that part of that adjustment would mean sharing a bed with a tiny human, worried me. Were we strong enough to remain connected without constant sexual contact? Was sex that important in our relationship, that co-sleeping would essentially end it? I'm sure hormones and exhaustion played a part in the constant curation of my aforementioned thoughts, but I also think they're valid concerns that, even if I was at my most rested and my hormones at their most stable, I'd have been worried about.
It turns out, while co-sleeping did affect my romantic relationship, those affects weren't all bad. In fact, the majority of them were awesome. Sure, we weren't having sex as often and, yes, sometimes we got frustrated with one another because someone was getting essentially kicked out of bed, but we learned how to make co-sleeping work for us, and didn't mind it impacting our relationship in the following ways:
There's Someone In Between You And Your Partner (Usually)...
There are multiple pays to co-sleep, but my partner and I found that having our baby (and, sometimes, toddler) in-between us worked best for us. We could sleep soundly on the tiny bit of bed that wasn't bogarted by our offspring, knowing that he wouldn't roll over and fall off the bed. While this set-up gave us peace of mind, it also meant that another human being was literally between us, at all times through the night. We couldn't tough or even really look at one another, without our kid in the way.
...So Sex In Bed Is Out Of The Question...
Which meant that, even when I was cleared for physical and sexual activity six weeks after I gave birth, sex in bed was off the table. We had a baby in the way and, well, you can understand how our son's presence was a logistical problem.
...And, Usually, So Is Cuddling
Sometimes this is a bummer and, well, sometimes it isn't. I'm not avid, passionate fan of cuddling, which is to say that I like my space and after a few moments (when comfort gives way to uncomfortable sweat) I am ready to roll over and have my side of the bed and, you know, not be touched. So while it was sometimes a bummer that my partner and I couldn't cuddle, it was also kind of nice.
You Can Start To Feel Like Your Partner Is Just Your Roommate...
A few months after our son was born and we were in the throes of our co-sleeping arrangement, I remember looking at my partner and seeing the roommates I had in college. We had a great schedule going and we were starting to get sleep and we had chores evenly split and were taking turn making dinners and everything was running smoothly; we just weren't as intimate or close as we usually are or were. It was a moment of clarity, when I realized that being great parents didn't mean we needed to stop being great romantic partners, too.
...But You Can Also Feel Closer And More Connected Than Ever Before
While I sometimes felt disconnected from my partner because we chose to co-sleep, I can also remember the many moments when I would look at him and my son (all three of us sharing a bed together) and feel so overwhelmed with love. Honestly, co-sleeping afforded us the opportunity to connect in other ways, and it was miraculous to see the other aspects of our relationship grow when being constantly physical was no longer an ability.
You Might Become More Creative In Order To Fulfill Your Sexual Needs
When we could no longer have sex in bed, my partner and I expanded our minds and thought of alternative spots to get busy. Honestly, this was an absolute blast. It made me feel like a kid again; like I was back in high school and hiding "deviant" behavior from my mother; like we were sneaky because, well, we definitely didn't want to wake up the baby. It was exciting and fun and sometimes hilarious but usually really hot and it definitely jump-started our sex life.
You Might Become More Frustrated With Your Partner...
A limited sleep space can mean a shorter fuse. I can't tell you how many times I have essentially snapped at my partner, all because I was hit in the face or kicked in the stomach by our tiny offspring. It's not his fault, obviously, but I mean, why does he have to be so big and take up so much room? Sometimes, co-sleeping is work and that work can make everything else seem like a big deal, even when they're not.
...Because Space Is, You Know, Limited
I just want some room, OK? I want my own space where no one touches me. Why does everyone always have to touch me?!
You Can Find Yourself "Touched Out"
I had no idea being "touched out" was a thing, let alone a very common thing, until I experienced it myself. Because we were co-sleeping and I was exclusively breastfeeding (on demand) I hit a point where I literally didn't want anyone to touch me. Because my son had to touch me in order to survive, "anyone" quickly became my partner, and I would cringe at his touch. He definitely took it personal, at first, until I explained to him what I was feeling and why. It can put a strain on even the most steadfast of relationships but, in my experience, being "touched out" doesn't last forever.
You Feel Like You're Truly A Team...
Even at our most frustrated and when co-sleeping felt like a never-ending chore, I always felt like my partner and I were a team. We were in it together, even if "it" meant getting kicked and punched and woken up every few hours and not having a sufficient amount of bed space.
..Because If One Person Wakes Up, You're All Up
This is probably why co-sleeping made me feel like my partner and I were truly part of a team. Even though I was breastfeeding and, therefore, the only person who could feed my son for upwards of seven months, my partner was awake when we were awake. Even in the middle of the night, he would say something endearing or give me a pat on the back in the name of solidarity, and while he wasn't up and feeding our son, I knew he was in it with me.