When I first pictured having a baby, I always assumed there'd be moments in the day when I'd put my son down for a nap or bedtime, flick on the baby monitor, and go about my business like a normal adult and not a life-sized stuffed animal. So imagine my surprise when my new baby refused to sleep on anything without a heartbeat, forcing me to choose between hours of crying or bed-sharing. Bed-sharing it is! There are plenty of frustrating bed-sharing moments every mom goes through, to be sure, but overall I'd say that I made the right choice.
The good news is that, so far, all of the people who say "they all sleep through the night on their own eventually" are right. I know, I know. I thought they were making it up, too. However, as hard as I suspected my child might literally be the first person who was still co-sleeping while applying to college, this did not turn out to be the case. After helping him learn to sleep in his own bed at nap times and the first part of the night (around 10 months), he slept in our bed every night for the rest of his first two years, which made it much easier to manage night-feeding. Then, when I decided I needed to be done with night nursing, we stopped, and he's been doing a surprisingly great job sleeping on his own, more or less tear-free.
(I shouldn't have written that last part down. Now I'm going to be cursed by the baby sleep gods, I just know it. Damn.)
Something else that's true on the other side of the bed-sharing struggle? Now that I'm not getting kicked and head-butted and all that, I sorta miss cuddling with him at night. (Don't tell my husband.) When I get wistful and start lamenting how fast he's growing up, I remember moments like the following. Then I roll around in bed with all the pillows and blankets I want, and feel grateful that we're not doing that anymore (until nightmares become a thing, anyway).
Not Intending To Bed-Share, But Bed-Sharing Anyway
This one doesn't apply to the folks who intentionally keep a family bed, but for the rest of us — whose bedtime plans flew right out the window when our babies straight up refused their bassinets and cribs — solidarity forever. You will someday have your bed all to yourself again.
Wanting To Stay Up When Your Baby Is Ready For Bedtime
If baby has to sleep next to you to sleep, that means laying down (or wearing them) for a lot of time when you wouldn't normally be sleeping. It can be a drag, though snacking and reading in bed next to a dozing baby isn't the worst thing life could throw at you. As long as your reading device is all charged up, anyway.
When Their Diaper Totally Fails In The Middle Of The Night
Waking up in a puddle of your child's urine and not quitting motherhood immediately is proof positive that moms are heroes. And navigating the “change the sheets now or throw a towel over it and handle it in the morning” conundrum is proof positive that sleep deprivation can make you question everything that ever made sense to you before having children.
When Your Older Baby Gets Mobile And Starts Wiggling Around In Bed More
Goodbye, peacefully dozing newborn, hello sleepy ball of traveling wiggles whose movements — however adorable — make sleep way harder to come by.
Getting Trapped Under A Sleeping Baby When You Really Have To Pee…
On the one hand, I never want to risk waking a sleeping baby. On the other hand, I do not want to be the one who forces me to change the sheets or put a towel down tonight.
...Or When Your Phone Is Juuuuust Beyond Your Reach
Nooooooo! Kiiiiiiiindle Appppppp!!!
When Your Older Baby Wakes Up Before You And Starts Exploring Your Face…
Tiny fingers are mind-bendingly adorable, except when they're abruptly waking you up by poking you in the eyes, nose, and mouth.
Tiny fingers fit waaaay too perfectly into adult ear canals. Creepy AF.
...And Hair And Everything Else
Unplanned trips to the baby hair(-pulling) salon are not exactly the greatest way to start the day.
When Your Baby Becomes A Toddler And Is Still Totally Uninterested In Sleeping In Their Own Bed
Welp. Time to dust off those sleep training books, maybe...
When Your Toddler Magically Triples In Size At Bedtime…
During the day, my toddler looks like a slightly bigger, more mobile version of himself as a baby. At bedtime, he is literally a giant.
...And Somehow Takes Up Way More Space Than You Or Our Partner
Somehow, a toddler can manage to take up something like half of a bed, pushing their fully-grown parents to cling to the edges of the bed. How they do this, I'm totally unsure.
When You Get Hit By A Flying Head And Or Limbs
I was deeply, deeply afraid of bad things happening to my baby’s head for most of the first few months of his life. It seemed so fragile, given how important its contents are.
Then one night, he rolled over onto me in his sleep, picked his head up, and then whipped it back downward, bonking me in the face so hard I saw stars. My anxiety quickly ratcheted way down.
When Your Baby Stops Bed-Sharing, And You Miss Them At Night
There comes a point at which space just gets too cramped, or kids just move on, or parents just want their privacy, and bed-sharing just isn't working anymore. But just ‘cause figuring out how to sleep separately is a huge relief, doesn't mean it's not also a bit bittersweet. For all its occasional drawbacks, there are few things sweeter than snuggling all night with your sleeping baby, and waking up to their happy little face every day. Sigh.