I could fill a library (and not just a small one, mind you) with things I wish I knew before becoming a mother. I guess that would've ruined the "fun" that is learning on the fly while simultaneously being crushed by the weight of your incredible responsibilities, but whatever. So, it's not in the least bit surprising to admit there are more than a few things I wish I knew before bed-sharing; things that would have made the entire process — in all it's beautiful, easy, frustrating, tiring, gross, and lovely glory — easier to ease into.
I had never planned on bed-sharing. In fact, if you would have asked me what bed-sharing was prior to my son's arrival, I would have described some intimate secret organization in which people from around the world swap beds (like, um, Airbnb maybe?). However, when my son was born the plans changed (and quickly, as in when we were still in the hospital when even the possibility of sleep training was thrown out the proverbial window) and before I knew it I was a bed-sharing mom open to other people's scrutiny, surprisingly strong kicks to the face courtesy of my newborn, and a slew of other lessons I couldn't have possibly imagined learning.
Since "can bed-share with the best of them" isn't something I can feasibly throw on my resume, I think it's best to share a few of the lessons I have learned along the way, in the hopes that you don't have a library of your own, filled with things you wish you had known.
How Much Extra Sleep I Would Get
I don't know why I assumed I would get more sleep with my son in another room or even in a bassinet right next to me, instead of simply sleeping right next to me in our family bed. I mean, looking back, it makes sense that my son would sleep best when he's next to his mother and I would sleep best knowing my son is breathing because, well, I can feel him breathing.
Still, it was pretty shocking to realize that bed-sharing actually afforded my partner and I more sleep. What kind of beautiful trickery is this?!
How It Would Allow My Body To Help My Son's
Prior to my son being born, I had no plans on bed-sharing or even co-sleeping. Honestly, I (sadly) bought into some of the anti-bed-sharing rhetoric that did a solid job of scaring the sh*t out of me.
However, after my son was born he had trouble regulating his little body's temperature. It was continually fluctuating between a little too hot and dangerously cold, and the nurses and doctors were growing concerned (he also had some trouble breathing). So, the doctor suggested I sleep with my hour-old newborn right next to me, and that is how my son and I spent the first night of his life. My body was able to help his regulate his temperature, stabilizing him and actually improving his breathing. Yeah, bed-sharing is awesome, you guys. So is the incredible bond between mother and child, and all that super-cool science stuff.
How Much Judgment Comes Along With It
Holy hell, do people have some feelings about bed-sharing and co-sleeping. I have been called lazy, careless, and dangerous. I've been told I could have killed my son and that (seriously, this isn't a joke) my son should be taken away from me so that I couldn't put him in "harm's way" when I sleep next to him every night. Yikes.
The constant judgment and shame that comes with damn-near every single one of my parenting choices is nothing new, unfortunately. In a way (as I think most moms are forced to) I have grown accustomed to dealing with other people's unsolicited advice or comments. Whether it's breastfeeding without a cover or refusing to spank my kid, people have feelings. Having said that, a little heads up would have been nice, because all that talk can be downright brutal.
How Strong My Kid's Kicks And Punches Really Are
He might be little, but that kid can pack a punch. I definitely wasn't ready for the kicks to the ribs and the punches to the face while my kid tossed and turned all night.
How Much Space A Tiny Human Apparently Needs
Why? This defies all I have come to understand about science (which, OK, isn't that much because math and science just aren't my thing), but my kid needs the most room whenever he is in bed. He pushes both my partner and I to our respective sides, then stretches his little body further than should be humanly possible.
The images of my family all sweet and cuddly, but taking up an appropriate amount of respectable space, were not even close to the reality of my bed-sharing situation. Oh well, at least I can add "can balance on the edge of any damn thing" to my resume.
How Much Easier It Would Make Breastfeeding And Night Feedings
If I would have known bed-sharing would make those late-night feedings easy as hell, I would have planned to bed-share the moment I found out I was pregnant. To be able to simply roll over, pop out a boob, get my kid to latch, and then close my eyes and go back to sleep is kind of the best damn thing ever.
How Touched Out I Would Feel Because Of It
It makes sense, but at the time I had no idea that bed-sharing (coupled with breastfeeding on demand) would make me hate the physical touch of anyone else. My son was essentially touching me or attached to me every hour of every day and, well, that wasn't easy. I missed my complete bodily autonomy, so even a nice hug from my partner made my skin crawl.
I wish I would have known being "touched out" was a thing, so I could have made more of an effort to spend solo-time with little ole me.
How Much I Would Miss It When It Was Over
While bed-sharing allowed my body to assist my son's, gave me (and my entire family) more much-needed sleep, made breastfeeding easier, and gave me another chance to really bond with my son, it wasn't always easy. I, honestly, sometimes really hated it. I wanted my bed back, wanted to have sex with my partner in our bed again, and wanted to go through an entire night without getting kicked in the face.
Still, the moment my son started sleeping in his own toddler bed, is the moment I realized that while bed-sharing isn't always the best, it was something I was definitely going to miss. Like, a lot.