It is 10:15pm and finally we have PEACE.
Both J and I are exhausted.
Tonight was a two hour battle start to finish. Some battles are longer, few are shorter.
“Is she good?” people ask. “She is wonderful” I reply, because she is. However they don’t mean that. They are really asking whether Belle is a ‘good sleeper’.
What does that mean? And what is the standard by which we are judging these babies? Does she sleep through the night, in a cot, on her own, no tears? Well no. Not even close. So I guess that that means that she is bad baby, by those standards.
Little Belle will go to sleep if she is in the pram, baby carrier or being rocked under the extractor fan wrapped in her fluffy blue blanket (no joke) for at least 15 minutes. If we get her to sleep in her cot she will wake at least three and often four or five times a night, screaming. Sometimes it is for milk and sometimes for cuddles but most often, she just wants to be close to her mama. That, my friends, is exhausting. But the reason that I am still sane at six and a half months is because we do the ‘C’ word.
Today I am coming clean, on record, telling the world (or whoever is reading) that….
Yup, I said it. That dirty ‘C’ word. Our baby sleeps not only in our room but in our bed with us, most nights and has been for the last six months.
You do have to be careful as to who you mention the ‘C’ word infront of as it invokes some pretty strong reactions but more people are doing the ‘C’ word than you think, especially amongst breastfeeding mamas with little night owls who like their 11pm, midnight, 2am, 3am, 4am snack times. Some families plan to co-sleep from the start, but many just fall into it, like us.
How it works…
We bought the cot assuming that because she is a baby she would sleep in it. But she just doesn’t. She usually starts her night in her cot (after being rocked to sleep by one of us) but by the time that we have gone to bed and she wakes for the first time, she comes into the bed next to me.
For us, co-sleeping is pure survival. When Belle sleeps next to me, she actually sleeps. Sure she still feeds but on the whole there is no waking or tears. I have no idea how much she feeds through the night; it is a lot, but we are both half asleep when she does and so it is so much less tiring that getting up to feed her and then settling her back into the cot.
Is it safe?
There are rules, but as long as you follow them then co-sleeping/bed-sharing is safe, especially when you are still breastfeeding. A quick Google of safe co-sleeping practice will give you the guidance that you need to ensure that it is safe.
What does your husband think?
Co-sleeping was never the plan. It just happened. I started feeding Belle lying down and before I knew it she was sleeping in the bed. I enjoy it more than J does but it has grown on him. His opinion is that, if it’s good for my sanity by helping me sleep, then it’s fine as a temporary solution. And recently we have been talking about transitioning her into the cot, mainly because her rolling, kicking and pinching is becoming a problem!
And in case you were wondering, it does not affect intimacy as much as you might think. Belle does not come into the bed until her first waking (which is usually around 1am). So J and I still go to bed together as we would. Nuff said!
When will you stop?
It is not ideal. Sleeping on my side for 6 months has taken its toll on my back, and having your baby in your bed means that you sleep a lot lighter than when they are in a cot. However, I will take light sleep over no sleep.
Yes, I might be making a rod for my own back, but it is my rod. I’m a first time Mama and I am figuring it all out as I go.
It has been six and a half months and I am yet to sleep for more than four consecutive hours. If my baby sleeps better when she is in the bed next to me, then that is what I will do, for now.
We won’t co-sleep forever. Now that she is rolling and moving I feel that the end is in sight for us. Whilst co-sleeping was never the plan, I can honestly say that we have enjoyed it (elements of it anyway!). It is easy to feel frustrated in the now and compare yourself to friends who have their little ones sleeping in cots with no problems, but our baby needed that extra comfort and contact through the night and that is ok.
A lovely mother that I had coffee with last week said something that really resonated with me: ‘Motherhood is the process of separation, from the physical attachment of pregnancy onwards, and every mother and baby will do it at a different pace’ (thank you Julia!). I know that when Belle has moved on from this stage there will be times that I will miss waking up to my little girl stroking my face and smiling at me as I open my eyes. So for now, I will treasure it.
But is she good? Yes.
My baby isn’t bad or even naughty because she does not sleep for 12 hours straight in a cot. And yes, I know that some other babies were sleeping through the night from 6 weeks. That is lovely, but mine didn’t.
Any other closet co-sleepers out there? I would love to hear your experiences!