I bed-shared with all three of my children when they were babies. Sometimes I would put them to sleep in a co-sleeper next to the bed, but they would almost always make their way into the bed after a late-night feeding, and they would stay there until morning. To be honest, I loved it. I loved waking up next to a snuggly baby every day, and with the first two, I didn't have any issue transitioning them into their own cribs when they hit six months. With my last baby, however, we continued to bed-share long past the six-month mark. And the one-year mark. And the year-and-a-half mark.
In a way, I loved it. I knew my third would be my last child, and co-sleeping with my youngest allowed me to extend the baby period for as long as I possibly could. But at a certain point, we had to stop bed-sharing because my husband and I desperately needed alone time.
To be perfectly honest, I could have bed-shared for much longer, simply because I loved how it allowed me to bond with my baby. I loved ending my days and starting my mornings with him snuggled close to my side, and because we were sleeping together, I didn't wake at his every movement or cry. In fact, it was often my husband who would wake in the night and soothe him back to sleep. While the rogue arms and legs taking over my pillow in the night wasn't ideal, it wasn't the worst thing in the world, either.
What wasn't tolerable, however, was how little alone time I had with my husband because of our bed-sharing situation. It wasn't simply that our third child slept in our bed: it was that our child needed someone else to sleep next to him to fall asleep. And more often than not, that meant my husband would end up falling asleep with the baby while I stayed up working. And since he usually left for work before I awoke, that meant we had exactly zero minutes alone together each day.
I wanted our nights back. I wanted our bed back. I wanted our alone time back.
When my husband came home from work, he was immediately bombarded by all three of our kids, who were all competing for his attention until it was time for them to go to bed. It got so bad that many days, we wouldn't even have a chance to say hello to each other until 15 minutes after he'd walked through the door. We tried in vain to slip into the bedroom, just to be in the same room alone together for a moment, but the indignant screams of our children would follow almost immediately. We were forced to give up any hope for alone time until after all the kids were in bed.
But with our bed-sharing baby, "after" bedtime never came. Even if my husband did manage to get him to sleep in our bed and slip out unnoticed, it was only a matter of time before he'd wake up screaming because no one was by his side. The few hours a week we should have had together were sacrificed because of our extended bed-sharing practice. So we finally decided to move the baby into his own bed.
But getting the baby out of our bed was easier said than done. When we finally did move him into his own bed, my husband had to move with him. Now not only did we not have any alone time together, we didn't even sleep in the same room.
Having my baby in our bed wasn't worth the hellish sleep problems that came with it, and it didn't keep him a baby any longer.
I became so desperate I decided to try sleep training when my husband was away. I wanted our nights back. I wanted our bed back. I wanted our alone time back. We struggled through a lot of tears and sleepless nights, but finally it worked. He slept through his first night, in his own bed, in his own room, at 2 years old. Honestly, it was the best decision I ever made.
My husband and I finally have our bed and alone time back, and I only wish I had bit the bullet and sleep-trained earlier. Having my baby in our bed wasn't worth the hellish sleep problems that came with it, and it didn't keep him a baby any longer. In fact, I probably would have enjoyed his baby days a whole lot more if they had been balanced out with more alone time with my partner.