When I was pregnant I did much research on co-sleeping, but was too scared to even think of trying it. Why? Because of all those horror stories in the media about how mother rolled over over a child and the child suffocated. The mere recollection of these sent chills down my spine, and I never even considered it as a real possibility.
We bought a crib to use in our bedroom and a pack-and-play with a little sleeper for the living room to use during naps, so that I could be right by her, working.
When our daughter was born, we tried putting her in the crib that same night and it did not work well at all. Sleeper worked better. It created a cozy hugging “hammock”-type environment where she felt more secure (I suppose), as she was “hugged” a little by its curvy walls. We did that for about a month and a half and here was our situation: she had a flipped schedule – slept a lot during the day and barely any at night. And I had a busy business to run during the day. And thank God my husband was able to stay at home to help me with everything.
So for me the notion of “sleep when your baby sleeps” did not work even for a second, as when she slept, I was busy working. And at night I was with her. Breastfeeding (a lot!), playing, getting to know each other.
But I could run on fumes for only so much. My life got way easier when we mastered the side-lying nursing position. Oh Heaven’s Glory! It made it so so much easier. But harder at the same time. As you know, breastfeeding triggers the production of oxytocin for both baby and mama causing both to get drowsy.
And I was ti-red. After working all day I was not able to party half the night. And sometimes she would fall asleep in my arms while breastfeeding, but as soon as I tried putting her in the sleeper she would wake up crying. Or even worse, as soon as I finally started to doze off, she would wake up crying, and we had to start it all over again.
It was exhausting, so one night I asked my husband to watch me breastfeed her as I lie down on my side, in case I would fall asleep. And he did for about a week. Sometimes I did fall asleep for brief moments, while baby was still latched on.
Also I should mention an important side-note.
The whole time, ever since Mia was born, it felt so natural to me to just lay down together. It almost felt like my body knows how to do it, and is calling me to do it. Better than my brain could process it.
But I never did it, as I was in so much fear of all those stories I heard. Even though I knew how to sleep lightly pretty much on command far before Mia was born.
When I was studying in the University in Ukraine, a lot of the times I stayed up way past 3 AM doing all my homework to only wake up at 6 and go. And a lot of those classes you just could not miss, they were too important for the grade. So I had to get up. No matter what. If it had to be a tank coming up to my ear and firing a cannon, I had to wake up. Therefore, I trained myself to sleep lightly, so that I can hear the alarm in the morning. When I really set my mind to it, it worked like magic, and I would wake up without problems. When, on the other hand, I did not consciously intend to sleep lightly and hear alarm and get up after this short nap, I would fall in deep sleep and wake up way past alarm time.
And even with this amazing technique of light sleeping under my belt, even feeling like it was second nature to sleep near my baby, I did not do it due to much fear.
Until one day I gave in.
One day we had to go to another town, as I had a 3 day photoshoot to work there. In these cases both baby and my husband were always coming with, we rented a comfortable hotel room near my shoot venue, that way I was always within minutes from my baby. We brought a little sleeper for her, but that first night we slept together. (My husband was still terrified so he slept on the second bed, but I finally said “f%$# it, I’ll give it a try”).
And that was the first night my baby slept through the night.
I was very surprised myself, but after doing some research it made so much sense. She could finally relax. She knew I was near, she could smell me, touch me when she needed, and even if she briefly awakened she felt safe, as I was right there.
Not long after that I stumbled upon an article where they used a quote from a doctor that said something along the lines of: “If your baby sleeps better with you, then she needs you, there’s always a reason. When she will be comfortable on her own, she will sleep perfectly fine on her own”. And it made so much sense to me.
Every baby is different, and if my baby feels insecure without me, then why not be there for her when she needs me. She clearly feels better and more relaxed when I sleep with her, she never wakes up crying, she eats at night, sometimes every hour (back then), but neither of us has to fully wake up for that. She sleep-eats pretty much, and sometimes she latches on when I am still asleep. Sometimes I fall back asleep when she is still eating.
Co-sleeping brought us so much more sleep. And I can not underline it enough. When she was only 1.5 months old we happily slept from about 11 pm to about 9 am with some eating at night which i barely even remember, as, again, neither of us had to fully wake up for that.
It took about a month for my husband to also try sleeping with us. He was very scared at first, but loved it after he got over his fears. Ever since, they nap together. Actually, they are napping now as I am typing these words. If she wakes up before him, she taps on his face for him to wake up.
Sweet coos, morning cuddles, a whole lot of love, comfort and sleep is what came out of this co-sleeping journey.
Here is something very important to note: I read up a lot of safe co-sleeping guidelines, and made sure the mattress we slept on was low to the ground, had harder top and was firm, I made sure there were never loose covers in bed, and blankets each of us used never ended up over our daughter and were not duvets. Here is an excellent article on benefits and safety guidelines of co-sleeping by KellyMom.com in case you want to read up and try it out yourself.
Also remember: you are the only one who knows your body and your sleep habits and patterns, so only you can decide what is best for you and your family. And I will go join in the lazy Sunday nap my husband and baby Mia have going on 🙂
Do you have a cool co-sleeping story? Tell it in the comments below, and happy sleeping <3