There is a world of information out there about the benefits of co-sleeping, as well as many myths about its supposed hazards. I’m not going to rattle on about the benefits or dispel every myth today, except to say that I love the family bed and that our son hasn’t been injured or suffocated because of it.
I originally began co-sleeping out of convenience. It is simply easier to breastfeed while bed-sharing. When my son is hungry, I can roll over, lift up my nightshirt, and offer him the breast. We can then both get back to sleep with minimal interference of our dreaming.
I continued to do it because my son slept better when we were together. My son tended to wake up if I let him fall asleep and then transitioned him to a crib. He did better being allowed to just sleep where he lies. It was easier that way on us all, much less crying and more sleeping.
He now no longer wakes up everytime I transfer him into a new position while he sleeps. I do place him in his crib occasionally, but when I lay down in bed without him, I cannot sleep as well. The bed feels cold and empty without him, and it feels wrong. I feel like he should be at my side. I worry if he’s all right and fret wondering if he’ll wake up and be scared or lonely because I’m not there. I go in to check on him quite a bit, just to be satisfied that he is still breathing. When he finally awakes crying for me, it invokes such a sense of relief, and as we settle down into bed side by side to nurse, I can finally get some sleep.
He takes up a lot of room sometimes, as he enjoys stretching out–especially horizontally. My husband is sometimes awakened by little toddler feet gently kicking at his chest, and I too am occasionally roused momentarily by a little butt pressed up against my head. We usually giggle about this and get back to sleep, after moving him out of the way of course. Some nights he wants to lay all over me, and while sometimes it is uncomfortable, I still enjoy it most of the time. Many people worry about co-sleeping babes falling off of the bed or being suffocated by their parents. We are much more in danger of those things than he is, as he has made himself comfortable right on our faces before and even kicked us off of the bed!
Does that sound like an inconvenience to you? It can be, but the joys outweigh the hardships and softkicks. Sometimes my son babbles in his sleep in his meek, toddler voice. Other times he wakes in the middle of the night, looks towards me or my husband, and smiles sweetly before closing his eyes and drifting off again. Every night I fall asleep as my son nurses with the moonlight illuminating his face, and I can sleep peacefully knowing he is safe right beside me. Every morning I wake up and my first sight is the sunlight pouring through the window, lighting up his visage.
If an intruder were to enter our home or if I fire broke out, I wouldn’t have to worry about running down the hallway to fetch him. He is right beside me, and all I have to do is grab him and worry about getting out, getting safe–not finding him. If he were to start having breathing problems in the middle of the night, I wouldn’t have to listen carefully to a baby monitor and then go racing down the hall. I could give him attention immediately, and those few minutes could perhaps end up being the difference in life or death. I hear him a lot better when he’s beside me than I do on the moitor anyway.
I often go to bed after my husband and wake up after him as well. It is nice to have someone with me at night when I lie down to interact with, to cuddle with, as I fall asleep. It is wonderful to wake up in the morning and have my son’s beautiful eyes be my first image of the day. It is really a wonderful way to start the day, second-best only to waking up in your husband’s arms. It is even more comforting on the nights when my husband has to work the night shift or is deployed to another location. Having my son close by not only makes me feel that he is safe but makes me feel safer and less alone as well.
Some mornings I rouse my son, and other mornings he rouses me. He’s sometimes groggy and cranky, but most of the time he sits straight up with a smile on his face ready to begin a new day. How could I start my morning in a bad mood with such a cheerful companion encouraging me to enjoy the sunshine? Sometimes we get up straight away and go down for breakfast or to play, and sometimes we lay in the bed for a few hours watching TV, “talking” to each other, snuggling, and being content in each other’s company.
I love to watch my son sleep, to see the expressions he makes, the way his hair falls across his forehead as he snoozes. I love when he opens his eyes, glances at me, and then returns to dreamland. I love when he snuggles up against one of our cats or dogs, and the two peacefully slumber together for a while. When all of my family is laying in the same bed sleeping, I feel things are as they should be, that everything is in its place, that I am complete. It is a wonderful feeling to fall asleep knowing that everything that matters the most is lying in the same bed as you. I think the rest of the family feels the same way.