When I was pregnant with my first baby I would day dream about snuggling up in bed with my sweet smelling bundle all warm and cosy snoozing together. As time went on I attended antenatal classes and devoured every parenting and baby book I could get my hands on. I became knowledgeable on how to safely sleep with my baby and the benefits co sleeping could have for all of us. I was looking forward to it. This was all a bit strange because before I was pregnant I had always said that there was no chance baby would be in bed with me disturbing my sleep.
Then that amazing day arrived when my baby was placed in my arms. It was all a bit hazy after 36hrs of labour but i clearly remember my husband and I spending hours that day holding her and gazing at her. This was it! This was what it was going to be like!
Baby and I were both pretty tired out she and I so we both slept a fair bit that first night. She in her crib and me in my bed next to her. The hospital weren’t keen on us bed sharing and I wasn’t confident enough to disagree. We both got a fair bit of sleep though. When we got home she kept me busy by feeding every two-three hours. All that I had read about the dangers of co sleeping had made me too scared to put her in our bed so I sat awake in the Ikea Poang chair in her room feeding her using a support pillow.
As she grew I got braver and worked out how to feed lying down so i could feed her in bed with us. We all got alot more sleep. Brilliant!
But then some of the realities of co-sleeping that I hadn’t bargained on began to materialise.
1. Little babies are often a little bit sick or ‘posset’ after feeds or when they burp. Great. Who wants to sleep in the wet patch?
2. Little babies are notorious for having nappy explosions – poonamis. On more than one occasion an explosive bowel movement has resulted in the baby, the bed and I having to have a change of clothes. Not great at 3am when your other half is fast asleep.
3. Babies are really noisy sleepers. They snore and snuffle and grunt and wriggle. That coupled with your mothering instinct that means you only ever really sleep with one eye closed so you get more sleep but its not the same relaxed deep sleep as before you were a mother.
4. Once baby can move they roll and wriggle all over the place and have zero regard for you. I’ve had a baby strewn across my neck like a scarf, been woken by little feet jabbing in my ribs (a reminder of pregnancy). I’ve slept in ridiculously uncomfortable positions because a little munchkin has worked their way under my arm and into my armpit and I don’t want to disturb them. The bigger the bed, the better. Ours is a king size and its not big enough!
5.There is no guarantee baby will sleep! This was the one that was the biggest surprise for me. I had assumed that if my baby was fed and warm then she would be happy and that if I put her in our bed she would sleep. Nope. Sometimes she just didn’t want to sleep. She wanted to be up playing, chattering, wriggling etc. Usually at about 3am.
6 Babies and Toddlers don’t concern themselves with awakening you gently. When my daughters were tiny their mewling would rouse me to feed them so there was never much crying. As they grew they tended to choose to wake us up in different ways. Sucking our nose, poking us in the eye or up the nose or shouting ‘wake up mummy!’ about 2cm from my face.
Nowadays both girls actually prefer their own beds. When I tried to snuggle up in my 2yr olds bed with her after her bed time story she pulled back the duvet and told me ‘You can go now’. Charming. On lots of occasions when our one 13 month old has woken up and won’t settle back to sleep, i’ve brought her in to our bed to see if that will help her to settle. It never seems to make any difference. If she wants to be awake that’s it, bringing her into our bed doesn’t fix it. Usually after a little while she gets restless and when I pop her back in her own bed she goes straight back off to sleep!
I’d quite like to be snuggled up with them regardless of all those negatives that I mentioned but unfortunately they only seem to be interested in getting in bed with when they wake in the morning and want to jump on us or watch telly!