From Anti-Cosleeping to Co-sleeping: My Story
We had everyone's sleeping arrangements planned out, except our first baby didn't agree with them. How we made the tough decision to go against what we were told to do.
Before I had my daughter I thought I knew a lot about taking care of babies. I mean, I baby-sat a lot and became an auntie at the early age of 9 years old. Clearly, I knew what I was doing. For several years I also worked with a- risk families helping them to address issues and work towards the life they wanted. Again, I was supposed to know what I was doing.
I’ll never forget being in meetings while I was pregnant with Rissa, my first, to address issues of my clients being caught sleeping next to their babies. They were in a residential facility so there were strict laws and regulations that must be followed. I couldn’t understand how they could “accidentally” fall asleep with their babies. I mean, I knew my baby was going to sleep in her bassinet in our bedroom until she was about four months old or so then transition to the crib we bought and put in the nursery.
Boy was I in for a rude awakening!
When my daughter was born she changed our lives in many ways. Most of those ways are yet to be discovered. Looking at her sweet face, there was no way we could know if she would be a high needs baby. At the hospital she nursed and slept well in the bassinet in my room. The day we checked out was a glimpse of things to come since she nursed non-stop all morning.
The first night at home was difficult since she cried most of the night. During the day she slept contently in our arms and even in the bassinet, but at night she wasn’t having it. We tried so hard to put her into a deep sleep then lay her down, but she always woke up crying. Slowly the same problem happened during the day. She wanted–needed–to be held all the time. She sought comfort from me most of all.
One night after rocking her to sleep for what seemed like hours, I carefully laid her in the bassinet. I crept backwards towards my husband and broke down crying. How was I going to get any sleep if she’d be up again in an hour or so to nurse?
But we kept trying. Bringing her into our bed wasn’t even an option that crossed my mind, except in nightmares. Several times I woke up grasping the sheets, crying and scared that I had rolled onto my baby. Or dropped her. The sleep struggles were taking their toll on me.
We started looking for answers and alternatives. We believed in our hearts that she was much too young to cry it out since she was a newborn. We received mixed advice from well intending friends and family. As I began reading more about attachment parenting and co-sleeping, I started to relax. While Rissa seemed to be a high needs baby, it didn’t sound completely unusual. Sure she wanted to be close to me all the time and comfort nursed like crazy, but it also made sense. Why wouldn’t baby want mama?
After reading about how to safely co-sleep, we agreed to try it. Technically we already tried co-sleeping by having her in the same room. Our next step was bedsharing, a form of co sleeping. At first only I was in bed with baby and a wonderful thing happened…we got sleep! She began sleeping through the night and so did we. It was glorious.
For a long time I felt guilty and ashamed, but now I’ve become more open about it. Sometimes things change and you just have to do what works best for everyone in your family. And for us, that meant sharing our sleeping space (and having an expensive place to put laundry).
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