Now co-sleeping or bed sharing is most definitely not for everyone. Some parents dig it. Some parents don't. There are babies that do better in cribs or prefer the no contact sleep. There are some babies born with velcro on their bellies (Oh hello, Miss Plum!). And every kind of baby in between. For us, it started out as survival. Plain and simple. Mr. Pants was my first baby and I had planned on having him in a basinet in the room with me for the first three months and then moving him into his own crib, in his own room. That's the way I had seen it done in many many families and it worked for them. So I didn't think about it much. But then, Mr. Pants comes along and everything I thought that I thought was blown out of the water.
It didn't matter where he slept, he only slept for forty five minutes to an hour. Like ever. In the bassinet, in the cosleeper in the bed, in the crib for naptime, in the bouncer, stroller and even the floor. There was no difference where you put him. He had a limit. And when time was up, so was he. So he never left the cosleeper in our bed (until he outgrew it and then was just in the bed). I tried bringing the crib in our room. Then I sidecarred it. Then one day after about six or so months of trying this and that and everything else, I was all, "what am I doing? Just let it be and quit worrying about it" and the rest is history.
We are a cosleeping family. We have no magic sleep solutions or dillusions that we are doing things any better than anyone else. We are just doing what works for us. And it does work for us. Take Mr. Pants, a nursing baby who woke up to nurse all. night. long. or woke in a panic (for reasons that we now understand) and needed to float around in some water to calm down when nursing didn't work. Now take me, the nursing mama, who also had a full time job outside the home. Let's just say that most days I looked like a train hit me and then backed up and hit me again, then the engineer jumped out and dumped a bucket of homely all over me and made me wear yoga pants. Seriously, I was tired. So cosleeping/bedsharing saved me a bit. Half of the time I could just stay laying down and nurse him back to sleep, never getting out of bed. And that was the clincher for me. It's what we became familiar with. So when Plum arrived, we never even set up the crib. I just pulled the cosleeper out of the closet, washed it up and placed in the bed. Done and done.
People say weird things to us when it comes up like "Oh you poor thing!" Hmm, I wasn't complaining about it. You asked me how the kids slept, I told you. I'm not a poor thing, it's cool. For realz. My personal favorite comment came from a pediatrician when Mr. Pants was about 12 months old. She asked where he slept at night and I told her. She looked at me like I was an alien and immediately turned her face away. "Well, at least he's old enough and big enough to defend himself now", she said.
Now, if you know me at all, you will be super impressed with my self control at that point. I gave her a dismissive laugh, as if to say "Oh, you! Silly doctor!" and then said something like "he's perfectly fine and safe". But what I wanted to say was, "Who in the mother hell do you think you are doctor? Shut your stupid face!". When I told Daddy her comment he responded, "Defend himself from what? Gremlins? Dream Ninjas?". I love Daddy Pants. Sigh. But I digress. She was appalled, is the point. It was all over her face. I thought that was weird.
Growing up I had a bajillion cousins. A few of which regularly slept in the same bed as their moms and dads. Some of the best memories I have about sleep during my childhood are when my mama would snuggle in bed with me when I was scared of a storm or not feeling well. I felt safe and I felt warmth and love. Such a great feeling. I knew that if I needed to, it was ok to go get in mama's bed. And as I grew, the need got less and less and I was very happy to sleep on my own.
If I had to guess, I'd say the 100% of families have coslept. At least once. Nights when the kids come into the room afraid from a storm or a bad dream. Nights when your little one is sick and sad and needs mama or daddy to hold them. Comfort them. Have you ever thrown open the covers as an invitation to a little voice at the door at 3 am? Have you ever said, "come here, baby girl" in response to the tap on your shoulder? Then you have coslept. Bed shared, even. The only difference for us is that we do this nightly for the first few years. And we don't mind it. The day is coming when our kids want nothing to do with us (little ingrates!). So I am definitely enjoying this time when they actually want to be close. Because I have a feeling that the pulling away when I try and give them a hug before their first day of school, or the looming "Mooooooom. You're embarrassing me", is closer than I will ever be comfortable with. So tonight, I will snuggle my littles, while they are still letting me. Because everyday brings us closer to handing them the keys to the car. And oh man, I'm having heart palpatations just thinking about that.