Tuesday, July 31, 2012

My Co-Sleeping Experience

Co-sleeping...not exactly what I had pictured when I brought my little boy home from the hospital!  I started out as the typical mom reading all the typical books and hoping for the happiest baby on the block!

But, it didn't happen.  Within a month or so, my son was settled in his crib and I would drag myself out of bed twice a night to breastfeed.  This was exhausting to say the least.

My son was not a big napper either.  He took about three 45 minute naps a day as an infant, which also left me exhausted.  Those naps soon became two 45-60 minute naps.

I breastfed my son until he was 18 months old, still doing a nighttime feeding up to about 14 months.  Despite all my hopes, he would never sleep through the night, even after the feedings stopped.  He was up at least once and sometimes twice a night, crying and needing some comforting.  As much as my reading encouraged the "cry it out" method, a few tries of that left me convinced that that was not normal.  I could not bring myself to ignore my son's screams.  So, I was stuck, getting up once or twice a night to comfort my son and then trying to go back to sleep.

When my son was about 6 months old, I started my journey to become a Clinical Master Herbalist with Vintage Remedies.   A number of months into the program, I had to read a book about co-sleeping with your baby, called Sleeping with Your Baby by James McKenna.  That was eye opening at the least and I started to seriously consider whether we should give it a try, though by this time, my son was a year old and I felt like it might be too late to start.  My husband was not super thrilled with the idea, so I just continued on as we had been doing.

Sadly, last October, I suffered a miscarriage at the end of my first trimester.  After a D&C, I had lifting restrictions for six weeks.  This left a dilemma for nap time.  My son's naps were now down to one nap and that typically lasted one hour - an hour and a half if I was lucky.  Since I really didn't have a choice, I started having him nap on the sofa in our great room.  Imagine my surprise when he started to take better and longer naps, soon stretching to two and three hours at a time.  He was never bothered by me puttering around in the kitchen or doing whatever other things needed doing.

My little guy sleeping on the sofa

It was at this time as well that we took the plunge and started to co-sleep.  My body needed rest so badly to help my recovery and me and my husband really wanted to start to get a full night of sleep, as he still was not sleeping through the night.

We tried sleeping on our queen sized guest room mattress on the floor (our bed was only a full) for a few months to see how things went.   My husband and I like to sleep next to each other, so I would sleep in the middle of the bed.  Our little guy finally started to sleep through the night!  We would start him off in his room, then when we went to bed, we would bring him into bed with us.  This worked great, as it gave us time to be alone at night when he went down.

We soon realized that a queen sized bed was not what we wanted, so we did end up buying a king sized bed.  Because we have a little one sleeping on it and I hope to get pregnant again, we bought an organic wool and latex mattress.  We LOVE it!  It is so comfy and I loved having no chemical smell when it was delivered; no off-gassing worries.  We have a cotton and then wool cover on it and I have to say that when we potty train, we will probably use a plastic liner until we are free of night-time accidents, but we will cross that bridge when we come to it!

I know that co-sleeping may not be for everyone, but we have all come to love it.  My son's naps doubled in time and he is sleeping through the night for the most part.  But, when he wakes up for a drink of water or a bad dream, we snuggle together and he is able to go right back to sleep - and no getting out of bed for mommy and daddy!  It was also very healing to me as I was recovering from my miscarriage to have my son right there with me at night.

I hope our story encourages those of your who are considering co-sleeping.  If we have another baby, we will co-sleep (not in the bed for the first number of months, but the baby will sleep next to our bed) from the start.  I have loved seeing how much our whole family loves co-sleeping and it has certainly met a need my son had.  Once he started to co-sleep with us, those naptimes doubled in time and he was finally able to sleep through the night.  That is all my mommy's heart needs to see to know that we did indeed make the right choice for our family.

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  1. I've had 4 really light sleepers, and we coslept with all of them because that's the only way anyone would get any sleep! So I feel your pain on that and I'm glad it's working for you!

  2. Jess, just curious how long you will cosleep with Devon and have you read or heard about the transition to his own bed down the line?

    1. Mary,
      We plan on having him start to transition around 4 into his own bed. Since he starts his nights in his own bed, I am hoping that will make the transition process easier. This is a new experience, though, so we'll see how it goes!