Confessions of a co-sleeper

Co-sleeping wasn’t a decision we made before we started this journey, it just happened along the way and now it has become a fundamental part of who we are as parents.

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I’ll begin the story at the beginning, me in my small bed and Finn in his. Those first few nights in hospital I would lie awake watching the clock, waiting to be allowed to hold my son in my arms again. I didn’t care that I had endured over 24 hours in labour and had barely slept, my eyes were fixed on my little boy in his plastic crib on the other side of the room. I was unable to get up for several days and the machines I was hooked up to blocked the space in between us, all I could do was wait until he was ready for a feed and the nurse would bring him to me. Then finally we could snuggle down under the scratchy sheets together while the rest of the world spun out of focus.

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When we were leaving hospital I could hardly believe we were taking our tiny precious boy home. The three of us piled out of the car and into our big bed and that is where we stayed while we slept off the last week in hospital and cuddled to our hearts content. But the picture from the parenting brochure haunted me, a big red ex through the picture of the parents in bed with their baby. A fear that was only strengthened by a visit from the maternal health nurse, who gently but firmly reminded us that if our baby fell asleep with us we should remove him to his own bed as soon as possible. However, none of us slept that well apart and on the rare occasions when we allowed ourselves to fall asleep with our son we all slept soundly.

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As Finn got a little older my nightmares of smothering my child in my sleep eased and my resolve to trust my own instincts grew. After all, a sleep practice used the world over, surely couldn’t be so wrong, especially when it meant having my baby close to me where I could respond to him immediately. I worried about SIDs but in fact there is no proven link between SIDs and bed sharing and in fact some argue that co-sleeping may in fact offer protection against SIDS.

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In saying that I am not complacent, I am aware of the dangers and Finn sleeps in the crook of my arm where he can’t shuffle under the doona or fall off the bed. I make sure he has warm pajamas on so that I can push the blankets a little further down, well away from his face. We are both non-smokers and we would never co-sleep with Finn after drinking alcohol or taking strong medications (not that I take anything stronger than Panadol or drink more than a glass or two of wine here and there anyway). Since I became a mother I have also become a very light sleeper so I just cannot imagine rolling on top of Finn, of course due to the position we lie in this would also mean rolling over onto my own arm which I also can’t see myself doing. If Finn wakes, I wake. So if he is hungry or needs comfort I feel him nuzzling around before he even needs to cry out. So neither of us need to fully wake up for him to feed and us both to go quietly back to sleep.

For a while, co-sleeping was something we didn’t admit too, for fear of being judged. Reactions varied from, “haven’t you heard how dangerous that is?” and “aren’t you scared of smothering your baby or SIDs?” to “your poor baby will not be properly trained to ever sleep alone”. We lived in denial even to ourselves, saying to each other, “oh well he is only in the bed because he is teething at the moment”, “most of the time he sleeps in his own bed”, “we will move him into his cot soon”. Six months was an age that we talked about him moving into his own room. When that time was almost upon us, beloved approached the subject. “Should we move him out soon?” I couldn’t bare the idea, I wasn’t ready, I wanted to know he was safe, I wanted to feel his little breaths puff against my face and feel his little arms wrap around my neck. I poured out my feelings to Mr J, worried that what I wanted might not be what he wanted. Luckily, he was on my side, he could see how much this arrangement was benefiting everyone, our little one was so happy day and night and we all slept well and woke up together.

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So we relaxed and as time went on we found many reasons that we were glad of the decision we had made, like the time Finn woke up hysterical and almost unable to breath coughing, croup having come on suddenly and violently over night, or the times when he was teething, fragile or growing and needed cuddles and breast-feeds often throughout the night. But most of all our answer is in his bright little smile and the confidence he seems to have in the two people that are always there for him and never leave him to cry.

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So that is my confession. This is what works for us.

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Do you co-sleep? What is your story? Please share your thoughts with me in the comments section below.

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Ps. I apologise for the photo quality. Most of these photos were taken in the dark with a mobile phone.

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Comments
14 Responses to “Confessions of a co-sleeper”
  1. Amber M. says:

    This was absolutely beautiful! I completely agree and have been going through the same thing for the last 18 months. It’s sad that people are so easilly judged for doing what comes natural to parenting, yet commended for choosing risky and elective ways of it. I think you seem like a wonderful family, and a great mother, and I think co-sleeping is one of the greatest choices I have made for my family as well. I will always be proud of that, and I hope you will as well. I understand that it isn’t for everyone, and if people aren’t comfortable with it, it most certainly is not a good decision, but for the people who know it is best and live happily and content with it, we should not be judged and should be seen as the amazing natural parents that we are. :) Thank you for sharing this. It is wonderful.

    • pramsandwich says:

      Hi Amber, thank you so much for your lovely comment it really means a lot to receive such kind and thoughtful feedback. While I struggled with it at first, I am proud of our decision to co-sleep. It is so nice to hear of others out there going through the same thing. What you said is very true, it is not for everyone and I definitely wouldn’t judge others who have found another way that works but if it does work we should be allowed to celebrate too. Thanks again and all the best on this wonderful journey that is motherhood. I hope you stop by my blog again sometime :)

  2. Jen says:

    great post! we co sleep with our 3 year old, and 4 month old. Its not something we set out to do but it just felt right, and i cant imagine sleeping without my babies next to me! ( i have 2 other children, i co slept some of the time with my daughter, and my eldest son never wanted to sleep with us, he was content to sleep in his cot!)

    off to check out the rest of your blog!

    • pramsandwich says:

      Thanks for the comment Jen! I can’t imagine sleeping without my son now either, I love waking up and seeing his sweet little face peering at me, waiting for me to open my eyes. It’s great to hear that bed sharing is working for you with two of your kids. We’d love to have another one soon too and would like to bed share if it works.

  3. Corinna Driggers says:

    I Love this story!!!! I co-sleeo with my daughter sometimes. but she does sleep well in her playpen but its right next to me. i couldn’t breast feed past 3 months so i feel co-sleeping helps me reestablish some of that bond i lost with her from nursing.

    • pramsandwich says:

      Hi Corinna, I’m glad you enjoyed my post. That’s nice that you are enjoying co-sleeping with your little one :) thanks for commenting.

  4. Maria says:

    I co-slept with my parents. My mom co-slept with hers. It’s a cultural thing that I thought was the norm. When my son had surgery at 6w old, they put him in that terrible ICU crib that looked like jail. You should have seen the shock and horror on the faces of the doctors and nurses when they came in at dawn to find the baby sleeping with me on the cot and not in the crib. He slept so well that night :)

    Still nursing at a year pretty much exclusively, even though I work over 40 hours a week (thanks to my pump!). Nursing and co-sleeping go hand in hand!

    • pramsandwich says:

      Hi Maria, Thanks for your comment. It’s funny really when you think about it that the norm in our society is to separate our children from us. I hated Finn being in that little crib in hospital so far away from me. Good on you for giving your little boy a cuddle when he probably needed it the most! And how impressive that you have been able to keep breastfeeding while working, good on you! What a lucky little boy :)

  5. Morgan says:

    I got lucky I think. I did do a hospital birth but insisted to my husband to hand me our son when ever he was sleepy/ hungry and he slept with me in the hospital bed for the two days/nights we were there. The nurses would give me funny looks when they came in at night and I just pretended I brought him to the bed to breast feed and they didn’t hassle me. I had not planned on co-sleeping other than the co-sleeper I bought to go next to my bed (that I have never used LOL) It just didn’t feel right laying him down anywhere but with me and I trusted my instincts. I am glad I did :) He is now 9 months old and still co-sleeps and nurses. He has never had formula even though I work 40 hours a week because I have a great pump. I am sure with our second child we will co-sleep with the next baby also, we love it!

    • pramsandwich says:

      Morgan, you are an inspiration! I am so doing that in hospital next time (if I am lucky enough to have another)! It was a bit tricky with Finn because I had so many complications, I was too groggy from all the medications to have him sleep with me in the hospital bed but I so desperately wanted him close. Amazing you have kept up the breast milk even with your busy work schedule. Go mummy! :)

  6. Kate says:

    I agree! We co-sleep with our 18 month old and we love it. Like others, I didn’t set out to do it (I didn’t really know what it was!) and just followed the ‘norm’ of buying a moses basket, crib, etc. Needless to say these were barely used. She sleeps better with us than she ever has elsewhere. And the smiles/cuddles when we all wake up together in the morning are just the greatest!

    If we have another baby I know we’ll just co-sleep from the start. I think it makes for a happier, more rested family all round. Great blog! x

    • pramsandwich says:

      Kate, I completely relate! Yep, we were the same and the cot really hasn’t been used. If we have another it will be cuddles in our bed from the start, maybe with a co-sleeper crib sidecar on our bed (to give us a bit more room with two adults and two babes). Thanks for your comment, glad you are enjoying my blog! :)

  7. Vonnie says:

    Hi Liza I am a new fan to your blog! I just found out this blog today & love live it; totally can relate to you 100%!!
    I have a 10 mo baby boy; we have been co sleep since my emerg c sect in hospital. Our story almost the same didnt get to do the natural birth after being in labour. Oh well! But I had a fantastic doula; midwife who gave me the bub asap without any medical chevks up etc etc. And I was sooo lucky the night nurse totally understand attachm parenting; allowed me to have my bubba sleeping with me for 3 nights in the hosp :) My hubby & I always know we want to do attachm parenting fr the start ie co sleep, baby wearing; breastfeeding. We had lots up and down but I am proud to this stage we are still EBF; lying downfeeding; co sleeping day & night. Would you believe we had the cot in kitchen for 9 months; I used it when I am in kitchen; bubba playing inside. He never sleeps in it or play more than 15 min :p. To all my frens (esp moms) we had to pretend that I am re organising the spare room & we leave the cot there for the mean time. I do not tell anyone that we co sleep and very very careful not to mention this in my mums group or frens! I couldnt stand any judgement opinions etc. I co sleep during nap time (feed & nap) with bubba; always follow his nurse on demand. I received lots & lots of rolled eye when I mentioned this at early stage & learnt to keep my mouth shut; say ‘yes he sleeps in his own cot in his own room’ to everyone now esp the nurses. I was told NOT to baby wear the baby as he will be spoilt; do not want to be alone incl sleeping. But I ditched my pram; spent my $ to buy a manduca & beautiful custom made mei tai. Both me and hubby are avid babywearer and couldnt live without. Again all moms are rolling their eyes whenever they see me with my manduca and no big prams. I am still early in my journey, and I look forward to read your blog and follow next journey (baby led weaning etc). But I am glad I wasnt alone although in my group circles it feels like that.

    • pramsandwich says:

      Thanks for your comment and well done it sounds like you are doing a great job and you are certainly not alone even though it may feel like it sometimes! All the best.

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