Thursday, July 28, 2011

My Experience with Cosleeping and Occasional Bedsharing

When my son was born I didn't know much about cosleeping or bedsharing. In fact they were terms that I was unfamiliar with. I knew people who slept in the same room with their babies as well as others who slept in the same bed with their babies. I just never associated a term with either practice and, I never thought much of it. It was one of those things that some parents do and others don't. It didn't seem like a major decision to me. My mom tried cosleeping with some of her children and found that she and the baby slept more soundly when sleeping in separate rooms and relying on a baby monitor. After hearing her experience, I decided to skip the bassinet in my bedroom and just put my son in a crib in his own room. I know. I can't believe I ever felt that way either.

(Just so we're on the same page: Cosleeping and Bedsharing are two separate terms. Cosleeping is sleeping in the same room as your child. Bedsharing is sleeping in the same bed as your child. Bedsharing is always considered cosleeping since you are obviously in the same room if you are in the same bed. Cosleeping is the broader term that includes bedsharing, but also sleeping on separate beds in the same room.)

When my son was born we didn't have completely ideal living arrangements. We lived with my parents. It's wasn't the best arrangement but we were grateful to have it. My parents cleared out the bedroom right next to the one we were staying in and converted it into a nursery for our son. We had a crib in there but also a twin sized bed that my parents had no room for anywhere else. That twin bed ended up being the place I slept the most often as well as being the place I breastfed my son the most often. I ended up cosleeping most nights for the first year or so of my son's life. I had a baby monitor, but it was easier to sleep in my son's room with him and not wake up my husband who worked very early in the mornings.

My sister-in-law has a daughter 6 months older than my son and has had wonderful success with bedsharing. After hearing how much easier nighttime feedings were and how much she enjoyed snuggling with her daughter all night long, I decided to try it. I didn't sleep at all. I was so worried I would smother my son with blankets or roll over on top of him. I was mostly worried that my husband who is a violent sleeper would elbow his precious face or something of the sort. I tried it on several occasions with a similar result. I was so stressed about protecting my son that I didn't get any sleep. When my son had a mild case of RSV as an infant, I had to hold him in an upright position all night long. (He slept on my chest while I was propped up with pillows in a reclining type position) This was definitely an opportunity to keep trying the whole bedsharing thing, but despite bedsharing for 2 weeks straight, I never seemed to manage getting any sleep. I gave up on bedsharing and decided it just wasn't for me.

So despite thinking I wouldn't sleep well if I coslept, I still ended up cosleeping (sleeping on the twin bed in my son's room) the majority of the time during the first year of my son's life. When we moved out of my parents house and into our own place, our son was about 18 months old and started climbing out of his crib. We made the switch to a toddler bed and he LOVED sleeping in his big boy bed and also loved his own room. He never asked us to stay in his room with him and he also never asked or tried to come into our room. He slept in his own room by himself and enjoyed it. We didn't shut him in. We slept with the doors open and he had every opportunity to join us in our room, but never chose to do so.

Fast forward 2 years and now that I have a 3 and 1/2 year old, he only wants to sleep in our room. This all started when my husband got a new job and started working nights a few times a week. I initiated the bedsharing and told him that since Dad was gone, he could sleep in my bed with me. My son told me no! I couldn't believe it. My first night in years having my husband gone all night and I was going to have to sleep alone. I was finally able to talk my son into just laying in my bed to read bedtime stories and he decided bedsharing might be fun and that he would stay. We both discovered that we quite like bedsharing! Now that he is older, I don't have the same worries I had when he was a newborn. I especially love snuggling in the mornings before getting out of bed. It's the best way to start your day.

Since that time, my son has decided he likes sleeping in my bed. We bedshare quite often. He also discovered that he doesn't like sharing the bed when it's too crowded (when Dad is home) and prefers sleeping on a crib mattress placed on the floor in our room on those nights. I am constantly surprised with the changes that take place in my life as my child grows. I never thought I would start bedsharing at 3 years old. I also never realized how much I could love it! Now most nights, my son sleeps in our room with us. He either sleeps in our bed with me when Dad's not home, or sleeps on his own little bed in our room. He has started to prefer that and honestly, so have we. The only downside is that my husband doesn't get to experience the bedsharing part. He has a few times, but when my husband is home, my son prefers to have a bit more space and wants to sleep in his own bed (next to ours).

I know there will be a time when he decides that he prefers his own bed and his own room, but in the grand scheme of things, that day will come all too soon. I'm going to cherish my bedsharing days while I still can. When he decides he wants to sleep in his own room, it will be his decision. Until then, he is always welcome in our room, and in our bed.


Post a Comment