Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Our co-sleeping story

It was a midwife who introduced us to co-sleeping on the night Buttercup was born. Buttercup, my giant boobs and I were having some choreography difficulty so the midwife showed me how to feed while we were both lying down (Buttercup and I as opposed to the midwife and I).When Buttercup had finished and dozed off I couldn’t see the point in moving her back to the bassinet. I didn’t want to disturb her and the closeness was wonderful as we snoozed together. While she slept I mostly just lay there and gazed with wonder at this new little person.

We went home the following day with only a vague idea of how things should go.
That day (and the subsequent week) I spent mostly in bed with Buttercup as we fed and slept and chatted to our family who came to visit.

Come night-time, however, we attempted to settle tiny Buttercup in the cot next to our bed. Why? I don’t know. Social conditioning I suppose. Babies sleep in cots at night. Don’t they?
Well, apparently nobody had told Buttercup this. She objected strenuously to being removed from her nice warm mummy. She cried, I cried. Tgd (tinygreendada) tried to comfort everyone. In the end we put her back into our bed and we all slept happily (my memory may be slightly rose tinted here).

The next day, the side was removed from the cot and the cot frame tied to the king size bed frame and voila, bed extension. We were three in a bed.

The tiny little person that was our daughter used to sleep snuggled right into my armpit and as I’d move in the night the little one would chase me slug-like across the bed until her dada was gripping onto the edge for dear life.

But I was finding it difficult to relax at night ( I’m quite a wound up person and was especially so in Buttercup’s early months) so when the tiny one was sound asleep I’d move her onto the cot part of the bed ( a mere few inches away) so we could all get some sleep before the next feed.

By the time she was five months old the side was back on the cot as I was afraid that now that she could roll she would get caught in the small gap between cot mattress and bed mattress. We put a rail on the side of our bed and some times she slept in the big bed, sometimes in the cot.

When she reached 7 months, I was almost two months pregnant. Buttercup would sleep soundly until we came to bed then every movement of ours seemed to wake her. After two weeks of this I was exhausted from pregnancy and soothing her back to sleep. Reluctantly we moved her cot into our spare room. We also kept a double bed in there so we could be with her if she was having trouble sleeping. The deal we made with her is that if she wanted mummy or daddy any time she just had to call and we’d be there. We all slept much better.

When she turned nine months we had a particularly rough 3 months when 10 of her teeth came through one after another. I slept with her every night in the double bed for that time so she could feed all night for pain relief and comfort.

Since Primrose was born she’s slept in with us. We’re much more relaxed this time around about sleeping arrangements and parenting in general. She’s almost 4 months now and a happy little bed monster. I’m much more settled in my motherhood and have no problem getting sleep with a tiny nuzzled in against me. I never have to get up during the night to comfort her; I just reach out and pat her in my sleep (so tgd tells me).

When tgd asks me if Primrose woke often during the night, I usually have difficulty remembering. I have no idea how many feeds she takes at night as we just go with the flow (excuse the appalling pun), I don’t check the time and we tend not to fully wake for feeds.
The only issue I have is that most mornings it is me who tends to wake up in the cot as our tiniest person sprawls out in the middle of the bed.

As for our darling Buttercup, when she is having a rough night daddy goes and sleeps in with her, or if Primrose has just fed and is settled I’ll spend some time in with my big tiny person.

So we have two family beds that we all share and everyone gets a happy nights sleep. Most of the time anyway. It’s what works for our family.

For more information on co-sleeping see
Kellymom.on breastfeeding and co-sleeping
Elizabeth Pantley’s checklist for safe co-sleeping.
Dr Green on SIDS and the Family Bed
Dr Sears on sleeping safely with your baby

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