My baby sleeps with me y’all. Yes, with me. And my husband. In our queen-sized bed. Sometimes between us and sometimes on the edge of my side of the bed. I suppose I should start at the beginning of how this happened, but I thought I would get that first part over so that all of the haters and the anti-sleep-with-your-babies people could freak out and prepare their nasty comments (do you like how I act like anyone is reading my blog and/or giving a shit?). If there happen to be any of those people, please go away now. You are not welcome here. Thanks.
Okay. Here’s the story. My baby has never been much of a sleeper. It was fine when she was a newborn because duh, newborns only sleep like an hour at a time. We bought an Arm’s Reach Cosleeper because I’m breastfeeding and thought it would be the easiest way to wrangle the baby in and out of a bed without me having to get up, walk somewhere to get her, sit down etc etc. And she wouldn’t sleep in it. She would play in it, in fact she still does because it officially became her playpen after the umpteenth time of us finally getting her to sleep, placing her in it and watching her wake up IMMEDIATELY and start laughing and kicking. So we scrapped that plan and just let her keep sleeping in her Rock and Play Sleeper because it was the only place she would sleep for longer than a 45 minute stretch. All the while I kept wondering what the hell we were going to do when she outgrew it? Where would we put her? I would have those thoughts, then shove them out to deal with later because at 6 weeks she started sleeping longer periods at a time! And by 8 weeks she was sleeping like, 4 hours in a row, eating once, then sleeping another 3 or 4 hours in a row! Glory hallelujah! God bless the Rock And Play! Who cares what happens later?
And then? And then she started teething. And growing. Or both. Or whatever the hell. At almost exactly 3 months old she stopped sleeping again. Was up every hour, sometimes every 45 minutes, crying, wanting to eat, wanting to be held. So I was up every hour, sometimes every 45 minutes, feeding her, holding her, begging her to sleep, sometimes crying myself, sometimes getting frustrated. And my husband would get irritated with me. Who wouldn’t? He would volunteer to take her but she still wouldn’t sleep. She would play with him. At 2 in the morning. And y’all, he has to be to work at 7 in the morning. So that was totally unfair.
We moved to a new apartment. Things got a little better. The 3-month growth spurt passed. The teething waxed and waned as it is wont to do (is it? or am I just pretending she’s teething when really she’s just a little turd sometimes?). Some nights she slept better than others. And then some nights I was posting on facebook at 2:30 in the morning that MY BABY NEVER SLEEPS! Which prompted a whole lot of advice, most of which was in the “I had one of those, good luck!” category, but some of which was in the “you gotta just let her cry it out, yo” category. And guess what? No. Just… no. I cannot do that. I can’t. When my baby cries it is like a stab in my heart. I am one of those moms. And you know, when she cries? She never settles down. For real. Even if I am holding and shhhshing and patting and comforting, she will cryyyyyy until she is hiccuping and choking and exhausted. And then she’ll wait until she gets her breath back and cry some more. I implore you, how is that conducive to sleeping? In fact, how is that not child abuse? Sorry if I’m offending any of you cry-it-outters. I know that it works for some people. I know that some babies cry for a few minutes to release some frustration and then they actually fall asleep. I tried it once at nap time and after 45 minutes of what started as whimpering and escalated to full on screaming (which took almost an hour to calm down) I thought HELL NO. We have neighbors somewhere (upstairs? next door? hard to tell) who have a baby that screams every night for hours. HOURS. And I wonder if they’re sleep training and if so, how can they stand it?
I read lots of books. The Baby Whisperer. Ferber. That “good night, sleep tight” one. Other things. Many things. All the while I’m still not getting enough sleep, the baby is not getting enough sleep and both of us are grumpy all the time. So I re-read The Baby Sleep Book by Dr Sears. I had read it already but thought that I couldn’t/wouldn’t/shouldn’t cosleep because it’s dangerous right? But I read it again thinking maybe all of his other tips would be helpful. But she still wasn’t sleeping. And she was getting bigger and bigger and outgrowing the only place she would sleep for even an hour in a row.
One morning (okay, middle of the night) as I was picking her up, feeding her, putting her back down only to have her wake up again and pleading with her to sleep my husband finally said “just lay her down with us for a little bit”. And I thought YES. JUST FOR A LITTLE BIT. WHAT CAN IT HURT? (and yes, I thought it all in ALL CAPS because THAT IS HOW YOU THINK AT 3 IN THE MORNING WHEN YOU NEVEREVERSLEEPEVER.) She fed a little bit and then fell asleep. So that’s how it started. I would only put her in bed with us when it was like 3 in the morning and I knew my husband would be getting up soon so that it would just be she and I in the bed. No way she would get squished. Then I started putting her in with us earlier and earlier because she was waking up so much and she would sleep so well when she was with us.
So then I started really re-reading Dr Sears. Especially the cosleeping chapter. And the chapter on baby personalities. My baby? She is what he likes to call a high need baby. If you have one, you know what I’m talking about. If you don’t, you’re lucky. I love my baby so much but occasionally I would like to be able to put her down for more than 5 minutes at a time. For real. Do you have a baby that you can put on the floor with a few toys and then go off and do laundry? I don’t. My mother and my husband can attest to this. If you leave her? She screams.
So. We took our bed off of the frame and box spring. Yes, we now sleep on just a mattress on the floor. It’s so white trash, you know? Like we just moved out of our parents’ house and all we have is a mattress. But whatevs, yo. We put her crib mattress on the floor next to us so that I could just breast feed her and let her sleep there. Sometimes she’ll sleep there for an hour or two, but she always ends up right in bed with us. Sometimes she’s with us all night because she sleeps so well there. Sometimes it’s really uncomfortable for me because she hogs up all of the room, but most nights it’s fine. She will fall asleep as she’s breast feeding, pull herself off and SLEEEEEEEEP. And because I don’t have to sit up, grab her, grab my Boppy, feed her in the cold night, put her back down and hope she stays alseep, I’m sleeping better. I just let her latch on and then drift while she feeds herself. Sometimes I have even fallen asleep and woken up later to find her resting gently on me and still sleeping. So lovely. And she wakes up happy and smiling in the morning.
Have I ever though to myself “hmm, are we spoiling her? Is she going to sleep with us forever?” – yes. But then the thoughts that creep in (and always always WIN by the way) are the ones that go something like this: my daughter was born with only one hand. Someday she is going to realize that she is different, and ask me why. And she might cry. And someday, somewhere, somebody is going to make fun of her, bully her, make her feel shitty. And it’s going to suck. Also? She has to go to physical therapy once a week, which she isn’t a huge fan of. And she might have to wear a helmet for a couple of months. So you know what? I think it’s okay if, for the short time that it happens, I let my precious little one sleep right next to me and be all snuggly and warm and happy. So suck it, Ferberizers and all other manner of cry-it-outters. MY BABY SLEEPS WITH ME. And I like it.