Like all new parents-to-be, DH and I read all the right books, got all the right baby gear and set up the perfect nursery for our new baby-to-be. We had convinced ourselves that if we did everything the books said, we would have a happy, healthy baby who would be sleeping through the night in no time. Well, we learned that you can’t always parent by the book, but instead should parent the way that suits your family.
When we first brought DS home, we diligently put him to sleep in the crib, on his back and hoped for the best. He would generally sleep for 30 – 45 mins at a time but had the best sleep when he was in our arms. Being first time parents, we had been told over and over that the safest place for baby to sleep was in the crib and that we would be spoiling him if he slept with us. Problem was, we had a baby that fought sleep every step of the way. We would rock him to sleep, sway to the sound of water running and eventually resorted to having him nap in the car! But he would wake up the second we placed him in the crib.
Ask any new parent about sleep deprivation and they will tell you that no one prepares you for how bad it can be!! Eventually I got so desperate for sleep that one night I brought him into bed with me and guess what happened. We all slept !! In all the books I read before having my son, never once did I read anything about co-sleeping. I just figured it was not something we were going to do. But that was what we were now doing and it was working for us. No more having a baby cry in the night because mommy wasn’t there nor did I have to let him cry himself to sleep (something I tried once and lasted 5 minutes!). My whole thought process on sleeping changed. I began to realize just how unnatural it seemed to make the baby sleep by himself. You care for this new little person all day, respond to their needs and cries so they know you are there for them during the day, but then put them to sleep, alone in their crib at night! No longer made sense to me. So for the next two years, we had a family bed and it worked.
Then I got pregnant with DD and wondered how this new addition would fit into our co-sleeping arrangement. We brought her home from the hospital and for the first 6 weeks of her life she slept beside me in a bed-side bassinet or in my arms, while DS continued to sleep in the family bed with DH. When she outgrew the bassinet, we moved her into our bedroom and she slept beside our bed in the pack n’play. Having her right beside me certainly helped with those middle of the night feedings! Although I did worry that all her little baby sounds would keep DS awake, it never happened.
The difference between DS and DD was that on occasion DD actually seemed to enjoy sleeping in the crib and would actual go for long stretches sleeping there. But eventually, she too ended up back in the family bed and we all happily got sleep together until the day we realized the bed was no longer big enough for all 4 of us. But rather than send DS to a room of his own , we started the transition by giving him his own big boy bed, but in our room.
Fast forward to today and we now have a family bedroom. Our DD is now 3 and still sleeping with DH and I, while DS sleeps beside us in his own bed (a bunk bed with room for DD, just in case). The day will come when they both ask for their own rooms, but for now I will hold them close and enjoy this special family time. It may not be conventional and some people may not agree with us, but this works for our family. We are happy, get lots of sleep and our kids know we are there for them day or night.
Until next time, Live Well, Laught Often, Love Much