I didn’t choose to co-sleep. It chose me.
Honestly, I had no intentions to co-sleep. Those who know me certainly gather I’m a worrier and I like to play it safe. But here I was co-sleeping with my son just weeks after his birth.
I read every mainstream sleep-training book. I bought a highly reviewed mattress for my son’s bumper-less crib. There were no blankets or pillows – just a crib sheet and an airplane mobile that dangled above (which we strategically positioned in the event that it would fall, it would land no where near the crib). I had no idea prior to my son’s arrival that he wouldn’t sleep a wink in his nursery at night.
So how did I get here? Well, let me tell you. Co-sleeping began with the bassinet in our room. Add breastfeeding to the equation, plus a tired mom, and a son who craved the warmth of the womb (this boy did not like to be swaddled) – and voila! On long nights, after I tried EVERYTHING to stay awake, I found myself continuing to fall asleep with my sweet son on my chest, even as I sat up. He was content. Most importantly, he slept – and my husband and I slept.
I knew the risk of SIDS, but that posed the same threat whether my child was in the bed with me or not. In fact, co-sleeping made me feel more secure. It felt natural – just as breastfeeding had for me. Right away I had this sixth sense knowing my child was safe all through the night.
But how could something that feels biological to me have such a stigma? Uttering the words, “I’m a co-sleeping parent” felt shameful to tell other moms, even though I had no shame in doing it.
I quickly realized what other people thought did not matter. What works for one mom may not be the best for another mom. To each their own right? Even I don’t know if the second time around I’ll co-sleep. Maybe it won’t work for that child. Like I said – co-sleeping chose me.
Just like many mom battles (breastfeeding or formula), this is one not to win or lose. But it is one to understand and respect.
Do I have nights where I wake to my son playing with my face? Yes.
Do I get swatted, kicked, lounged on, pinched? Sometimes.
Would I do it all over again? In a heartbeat.
I was able to give my son what he needed, and I have great memories to cherish for eternity. I’ll always remember his sweet shoulder taps to let me know he wants me to cuddle him, as well as the way he holds onto my arm as if it is his blanket.
Here are some facts for those co-sleeping head shakers. Co-sleeping is in fact MORE COMMON in the U.S. than what people tend to believe. Co-sleeping is the way most of the world sleeps, according to the Natural Child Project, a nonprofit that supports attachment parenting.
I am not an advocate or a non-supporter. But I respect and understand co-sleeping, just as I respect other moms’ sleeping and parenting decisions. If a mom is there for her child with love and support – no matter in which way, I cannot judge.
I guarantee majority of you who didn’t begin by co-sleeping will find your child wanting to crawl in bed with you at one point – and you’ll let them. And this too will be one of your best kept memories.