Monday, February 15, 2010

Sleep, Glorious Sleep!!

It's the plague of the mother with young children--the lack of sleep. It's the reason that books about teaching children to sleep become bestsellers. It's the reason that things like letting a baby "cry-it-out" are considered acceptable. Mom has to be able to get her sleep or she won't be able to function.
Trust me, I understand. In the average day I need to prepare at least one large balanced meal (lunch is usually leftovers from prior days, and breakfast is typically simple, but I generally spend a good hour on dinner). I chase a toddler around all day. I break up world war III (or IV or V) between my sons on a regular basis. I clean the house. I sew or knit. I may have errands to run or people to see. And yeah, I spend some time online chatting with friends, commenting on their facebook statuses, and attempting to enlighten the world via my blog. Yes, I need my sleep as much as anyone.
But I don't believe in leaving a baby alone to cry. I think it's psychologically damaging to a young infant to abandon them like that. (Go ahead, feel offended, this is my blog, I'm going to give my opinion!) ☺

So what is my solution? Simple: co-sleeping.

Co-sleeping can mean several different things. It might mean bedsharing (where the infant is in bed with mother). It might mean having a sidecar bed (where the infant's bed is adjacent to mother's). It might mean having the baby in his own bed across the room from mom--but still in the same room. The point is not the exact sleeping arrangement, the point is that they are sharing sleep.
Many breastfeeding mothers choose bedsharing because they can literally just half-wake, slip the breast into the baby's mouth, and drift back to sleep. Bear shared our bed until he was past 2. He also didn't night wean until then. Both Hubby and I would have preferred to have him move into his own bed (and nightwean) a little earlier than he did, but every kid is different and that was just what Bear seemed to need at the time.
Some people have difficulty with bedsharing because they get 'touched-out' and need some space in order to sleep soundly. My sister is one of these people, and my little Eagle is another. My sister puts her babies in their own bed near hers, so that she can attend to them when they need her, but she can still sleep between times. Eagle enjoys snuggles during bedtime, but once he's asleep he stays asleep much longer if I put him in the sidecar crib rather than keeping him nestled next to me.
Here is our current arrangement: 
If you look at that and think "gosh, you have to climb to get into bed" then you're right, I do. But that's how our room is laid out, and you know, it's ok. For one thing, since Eagle is breastfed then when I wake up with him I don't have to get up, I just wake up enough to feed him, then lay him back down. Yes, sometimes I go back to sleep with him snuggled in next to me, but sometimes I don't. One of the nice things about having the sidecar there is that it's available if I want it, but it's convenient to have him in bed with me too--and because of the sidecar being right there I don't worry about him falling or rolling off the edge of the bed.
(And no, we don't usually make the bed--you're right that is a bit of a hassle with the crib there--but we didn't usually make it before anyway. Today I made it specially for taking this photo for you. Don't you feel special?!)
You can see that my bed is scooted right against his, and that they are the same height. I have a few things in the bed there with him too. First, a small pillow (to keep him sleeping on an incline, so that he doesn't get stuffed up). I lay a cotton blanket out under him (over the pillow) and then I grab a crochet blanket or two to put over him--I like using them because they are warm but they are also full of holes--so I don't have to worry about him accidentally pulling it over his face because he would be able to breathe through it.
One thing that has proven to be very convenient about the sidecar arrangement is that I keep a little box there. It has my water bottle and chapstick, gripe water, diaper cream, the binkie, a burp cloth or two, plus some wipes and my nighttime diapers. They are always right at hand so I don't have to clamber out of the bed for anything during the night. If you look back to the first photo, you can see that there is also a pair of wool longies hanging over the end of the crib...I often put them there to air out because I always use them at night.

Eagle seems to like the arrangement ♥


Stacy said...

Such a cute picture at the end!

Yeah, we're cosleepers. No other way to do it and actually sleep at our house. Max usually starts out in his own crib in our room so that I can actually have a few minutes to myself, but ends up cuddled up (or draped over) me when he wakes up at night.

Becky said...

Oh, he's a cutie!

I actually got lucky with my kids. They're both good sleepers and we never really had to use the cry-it-out method (which is good, since I don't like it so much either). But I can tell you right now that I COULD NOT co-sleep. I can't even fall asleep if my husband is so much as touching me. Just can't do it. And to have a baby - a little person who is fully dependent on me - right there, well, I'm just glad I didn't have to cross that bridge. My kiddos always slept in different rooms.

Having said that, I think it is a great solution for you, and for a lot of other moms I know. And I love the idea. I just couldn't do it personally. Not because of principle, just because I physically couldn't do it and still get sleep myself.

Suzanne W. said...

Oh, he's sooo cute! I completely agree with co-sleeping. We had a sidecar then moved Boo to his own bed at about 5mths but left his bed about 3 feet from ours. He was there until 3. I think we are all better for it. :D

ChristinaB said...

I am 100% with you! I parent all day long so why would I stop (i.e let them just cry it out) because the night comes?? We have co-slept with all of our kids who have needed it and it was blissful! He felt loved and nurtured and we got a decent nights sleep!

Lisa said...

Love the pictures! Our bedroom looked just like that for months, though dd never really slept in the crib (she knew a good mattress when she felt one and would never settle for that hard crib mattress).

I love the idea of having the box of supplies in the crib, partly for the convenience, but also partly because it makes the space not feel so huge for such a little baby.

Julie said...

My kids all slept with me the first 3- 6 months of their life. It was much easier for breastfeeding. However, once they got to around 6 months they moved around too much to make it a restful sleep. So, I moved them to their own bed. I think they only CIO one night and then were fine. I guess I was blessed to have good sleepers.

Mallory said...

Bug is such a snuggler. Although we had a sidecar arrangement for a while, he never slept in his bed. He was always right in my armpit! Now that he is older, he likes to sprawl out a little more, so me and the hubs end up crammed together on one side of the bed, while Bug is comfy with all the room in the world on the other side! (And we even have a King!)

Marly said...

That's almost exactly what my bedroom looks like :) I actually have been co-sleeping in the bed but lately I've put him more in his own bed. He slept 6 straight hours last night! I guess he'd rather be by himself. Yay for me because I don't sleep well with someone on me.

nicole said...

I also absolutely agree with your thoughts on co-sleeping. I've done it will all my kids, and it has been the best thing for us!! Our pediatricians have always recommended against it, but I do it anyway. I think the concern is that I'll accidently roll over onto my child or something, but I take precautions to give the baby some space so that won't happen.

I like the arrangement you have there! Thankfully, we have a king sized bed, so there's room for all of us. But I have never really had a problem with lack of sleep when we have a newborn, because when the baby starts to cry, I just roll over and breastfeed him/her while we're laying down, and we all go back to sleep. There's no getting out of bed, heating up a bottle, or rocking the baby back to sleep. Breastfeeding in bed is the BEST. And I think babies still need and enjoy that closeness. (Writing about this is making me anxious for our newest little guy to join our family!)

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