Friday, November 25, 2011

Co- Sleeping

Recently there has been quite a bit of media and mommy talk with regards to co- sleeping. It seems that the “authorities” on the subject are NOT in favor of co-sleeping. When I was a new first time mom, I found the objection of the “authorities” very intimidating. Their objection was so intimidating that I endured months of trying to force a difficult infant to sleep in his crib. When all HE wanted to do was to sleep next to ME in OUR bed. I was totally and completely sleep deprived and dysfunctional.
                I remember quite vividly the first time I co-slept with him. I sat leaning against the wall in our king size bed, paranoid and crazed with extreme sleep deprivation. I placed pillows all around me to form a cushion barrier of protection. Protection from what? I now have no idea! I held my baby in my arms and had a wonderful and much needed two hour nap. My baby was such a difficult sleeper that I was accustomed to him waking every hour even at four months of age. So, having a two hour nap was a total miracle! It was in this, my first co-sleeping experience that I learned that I could hold him and actually get some sleep at the same time. After this exceptional experience I was hooked on co- sleeping for life to the point that my oldest son co-slept with us until he was four years old!
                When my oldest was just over two years old our second child was born and he joined the family bed permanently when he was four months old. The four of us I, my husband and our then two son’s co- slept together for two years until we had our third baby. I found that co-sleeping made breast feeding so much easier especially at night and really maximized the amount of sleep I was able to get and it provided me with a little extra cuddle time with my baby. We did try to get our then toddler to sleep in his own bed but failed terribly at those attempts!
                Our third baby had medical conditions that made it difficult to co-sleep with him in the beginning and as a consequence he did not get in our bed until he was an older infant. We didn’t start co-sleeping with him in our bed until he was about six months old. But of course he slept in a crib right next to our bed so I could keep a vigil eye on him. Once he was able to walk he actually wanted to sleep with his best friend, his brother that is only 21 months older than him. They have been co-sleeping with each other in a twin bed even to this day!
                It took me needing to have FOUR babies to finally get this co-sleeping thing right! I started co-sleeping with baby number four only one day after bringing him home from the hospital. He made it very clear from the VERY beginning that he was NOT going to sleep in his crib. I had already fought three other infants, to sleep in their cribs (their cribs were right next to our bed… not like they were left alone in another room.)I had already lost the fight three other times. I had already suffered MAJOR sleep deprivation with three other infants. I always ended up giving into my babies and letting them sleep with me after suffering for TOO many months.
This time I got it right. In spite of the fact that one of the last things the nurse told me when she discharged us from the hospital was “Do not sleep with your infant.” I remember thinking “I can hardly wait to sleep with him so I finally can get some sleep.”  As soon as I started sleeping with our fourth son at night he started sleeping anywhere between two and four hours! I have to admit I was a little nervous to sleep with such a tiny baby. Since all my other babies were older infants when they began to sleep with us in our bed. But; it was such a wonderful thing to get some much needed sleep especially since I have three young children that depend on me to care for them.
My preferred way to sleep with my newborn is to have him on his back with his head propped up by my upper arm (near my armpit) with my hand under his bottom. Now that he is older I still prop his head up on my arm but I sleep on my side in a fetal position around his body. This position seems to give him easy and fast food service!
I feel that it is almost cruel to separate a baby from its mother after he has had her warmth and comfort near him for almost 9 months.  Granted my three oldest did not start sleeping in our bed for the whole night until they were several months old but they ALWAYS slept in a crib next to our bed from birth. Even while still in the hospital I did not leave them in the nursery to be cared for by the nurses. I feel it is best to keep infants close to their mother. I have read much research that supports my belief that infants do best while sleeping near their mother rather than being left alone in another room. I realize that co-sleeping with an infant is not for everyone and certain situations are not healthy or safe for an infant to be sleeping with an adult. But I truly recommend co-sleeping if the environment is a healthy permitting one. At least give it a try and see if it works for you.

Happy sleeping from Moms 4 Boys!

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