On Sleep, and Co-Sleeping, and NOT Sleeping.

TBRonan110509So taken for granted when you’re getting it.  Seriously.

Let’s talk sleeping arrangements.  First, this is a judgement free zone.  I make the choices I make because I feel they are the best for ME and for Ronan.  I do not ever look down upon or belittle another mother for the choices she has made for her family.  I expect the same courtesy.  That being said, if you disagree or dislike what you read here, please keep it to yourself.

Ronan sleeps in bed with me.  I did not plan it, want it, nor did I encourage it.  As a matter of fact, I was violently against bed-sharing… until I had a baby.  I used to hear about friends who let their child sleep with them, and I would turn to look at Brock and say, “We are NEVER doing that.”

Fast forward to when Ronan is about 3 weeks old.  He sleeps well during the day, but at night time I can’t get him to settle.  He cries in the crib, he cries in the pack and play, he cries in the swing.  Lord, how the child cries!  But when I pull him next to me in bed… he is calm;  perfectly calm, and I get to sleep for a few moments.  There is happiness in my household.  “We co-sleep to get sleep,” is my new motto.

From that point forward, I never looked back.  I have enjoyed every single second Ronan has been in bed with me, despite his horrible sleep habits, waking every hour or two, wanting to nurse.  I love the snuffle of his breath, and the little feet he keeps tucked into my side.  It melts my heart when he rolls over and reaches out to touch me, just to be sure I’m still there.  He laughs in his sleep sometimes, and it wakes me… only to make me laugh.  And the smiles – oh the smiles he gives!  When he wakes in the morning, the smile on his face upon seeing me and daddy is what true happiness is made of.  These are the moments I cherish so dearly.  There is no part of sleeping with my son that I dislike.

I know the arguments.  I’ve heard both sides.  The haters will tell you bed-sharing is the most dangerous sleeping arrangement there is – that babies die in bed.  The supporters will tell you that babies that sleep with moms have nearly non-existent rates of SIDS, and that accidents are almost always caused by intoxicated parents; that babies sleeping with mom sleep better, longer and less anxiously.  In the end, I choose to continue to co-sleep because I love the closeness, but I also love how comforting it is for my child.

I can perfectly imagine what it would be like as an infant.

Mom is warm.  She is smells, and curves, and soft and voices.  She rocks and coos.  She is sweet milk and soft touches.  I fall asleep in dark comfort, I smell mom.  Her body is warm and holds me close as I drift away.  I feel mom.  Skin and sounds and movement.  Sleep is so lovely with mom…. Wait.  Where is she?  Where am I?  I didn’t fall asleep here, it’s cold, I can’t see her… smell her, feel her hear her need her where did you go? WHERE ARE YOU MOM???

When Ronan wakes up next to me, all is well in his little world.  I have no desire to “train” him to sleep.  Children develop the ability to sleep more deeply as they grow older, and he is well on the way there.  I have been urging him to sleep through what would have been multiple night feedings, and his sleep stretches have been getting longer and longer, my nights getting better and better.  Last night?  We nursed once after bedtime.  There is light at the end of this wide awake tunnel.

I am hesitant to give up my sleeping arrangements.  His babyhood is already passing all too quickly, and once it is gone I will never get it back.  I know you hate that he isn’t in his crib, but I promise… he’ll be sleeping through the night in his own bed by the time he’s sixteen.  In the mean time, please leave me alone about it.  It’s not ruining YOUR sleep at all.

  • Stacy Smith

    We did the co sleeping thing with our first daughter, Kailyn. She is 3 now, and still in bed with us. She refuses to sleep anywhere else. I find comfort in her sleeping with me, but on the other hand, my husband and I don’t have any alone time together. Our second daughter, Adrienne sleeps in her bassinet next to the bed. She never sleeps with us. I’m for co sleeping, but my second daughter is sleeping SO much better then Kailyn did. Kailyn woke up constantly to nurse until she was one. I don’t let Adrienne CIO. I think there is a happy medium. I wont let Adrienne sleep with us, but I wont let her cry it out either. I feed her and put her in the bassinet. She’s asleep until 7 A.M, usually. =)
    Anyway, enjoy co sleeping! I loved every minute of it when Kailyn was a baby.

  • http://www.tempestbeauty.com/about-this-blogger/admin/ Mandy

    I suppose I should have mentioned that Ronan is in his crib from bed-time (around 7pm) until his first wake-up. So we get some much needed mommy-daddy time. :)

    I also worry a little about having baby two and Ronan still being in our bed. But I’ll cross that bridge when I get to it!

    Where will you put Adrienne when she outgrows her bassinet?

  • http://www.budgetconfessions.blogspot.com Cate

    We had always intended to co-sleep, but in the end our daughter decided it for us. In the hospital she WOULD NOT sleep unless she was in our arms. And newborns sleep like the dead! But the second we would put her in that little plastic bin she’d wake up and scream. Now she’s a good sleeper when in bed with us, but she won’t sleep in the crib AT ALL, even for naps. I’m sure she would if we really tried to transition her, but we just don’t care enough yet. She’s only 5 months old.

    Anyway, what I’m getting at is that co-sleeping has definitely worked for us! If you’re doing it safely, I don’t think the naysayers have any ammo.

  • Shayna

    Mandy, I am so glad things are lightening up for you! This was a great post :)

  • http://www.tempestbeauty.com/about-this-blogger/admin/ Mandy

    Cate – I feel the same way! I have no problem doing what works, and I feel safe doing it. That’s what counts!

    Thanks Shayna! Glad you liked it :)

  • Nadine

    Hi Mandy! Another great read…….. If you remember
    I never let Ryan cry himself to sleep. I just never
    do it. He came into our bed at times and somtimes
    we would go into his room and sleep there, you know
    what I mean.
    Ryan is now two and ok he sleeps in his own bed
    but every morning he comes in at around 4.30-5.00am
    gets up onto the bed a cuddles and falls back to sleep.

    Also I took Ryan out of his crib and his first birthday and
    put into a bed. He loved every minute of that. I think it was the
    best thing for Ryan as he would come into us when he wanted
    with crying the whole house down. I would here him come
    in and wait for him. We also have the camera so I could see
    him all the time……..

    Anyway, hurry up and write some more.

    Nt nt love Nadine x

    • http://www.tempestbeauty.com/about-this-blogger/admin/ Mandy

      Of course I remember! I also remember when you moved him to the big-kid bed. I’m leaning towards doing the very same thing for Ronan as soon as he can walk. I love the idea of him being able to get in and out of bed when he needs to, instead of crying until someone comes for him.
      Some nights are tough, but not letting them cry just feels better in my heart!

  • Lindsay

    This is a topic I’ve been interested in for a while even though I don’t have any children. There are many cultures in which infants sleep with their parents right up until a younger sibling is born. In North America, independence is a highly valued trait, so babies are expected to sleep on their own by a very early age. There have also been some studies which show that women who can breastfeed throughout the night without having to get up have higher quantities of higher quality sleep, which is always good. While there will, of course, be risks involved when you lay a sleeping infant in a bed full of adults and blankets, there are steps to make co-sleeping as safe as possible. And the sad reality is that infants can die in their own cribs as well. Good for you, Mandy, for doing what is best for your family despite all the controversy and criticism!

    • http://www.tempestbeauty.com/about-this-blogger/admin/ Mandy

      Lindsay – Thank you for that. I’ve never met someone that has researched co-sleeping, actually put some real work into learning about it, and still thought that it was a bad thing. We practice safe co-sleeping habits, and I think the benefits outweigh the risks. <3 you for your comment. :) Do you think you will co-sleep when you have children?

  • http://janusfiles.xanga.com Janus

    How does Brock feel about it? And have either of you almost rolled over on top of Ronan?

    • http://www.tempestbeauty.com/about-this-blogger/admin/ Mandy

      Janus – Brock used to not care so much, because it didn’t affect his sleep at all. Now, however, Ronan is fairly violent in his sleep (kicking, tossing, turning, etc) so he has more trouble sleeping through it. Some nights, he goes and sleeps in the guest room. However, when he’s home alone with the baby and I’m working – the baby still sleeps in bed with him. So he can’t hate it all THAT much. And no, neither of us have ever almost rolled on him. There is a different level of awareness when the baby is in bed with you. He’s a big kid, too! He’s probably just shove me off of him!

  • Nadine

    Hi Mandy!

    I agree, as I have said I just not let Ryan cry himself to sleep. So, we did what we felt was right for us as a family. I think this is the key you have got to do what is right for you. Just let your ‘gut’, as us Irish say, guide you.

    Regarding putting Ryan in a big bed, it truly was the best think. It gave him independance and choice, I believe, to this day he loves it.
    If you remember we bought a mattress and base so the bed had no frame, which meant it was low and then owen made the barrier so he couldn’t roll out. It really was nice, you could cuddle, read all in his bed before nite nite!!!!!!

    Just remember it’s always your choice your ‘ mum’………

    Love Nadine xx

  • Stacy Smith

    I’ll be putting Adrienne in her crib. Gulp. =/ I wont put her in there until she is 6 months old, when the risk of SIDS has lowered. I know, I’m a worrier. Lol. Anyways, I’m hoping that Kailyn will feel better about sleeping in her room if her sister sleeps in there with her. =) I’m hoping!!

    • http://www.tempestbeauty.com/about-this-blogger/admin/ Mandy

      No, that’s great! Ronan sleeps all of his naps in his crib, and is in there for at least half of the night. It’s just ME that can’t let go of co-sleeping. Good luck with Kailyn 😀 I’m sure she’ll surprise you!