“Hi, my name is Karla and I’m a co-sleeper,” I say after sheepishly raising my hand and standing up in front of a gasping audience of perfect internet parents. That’s right. I admit it. My baby shares a king size bed with my husband and I. In her defense, our bed is way more comfortable than the cardboard crib mattress we tried our best to acclimate her to…Okay, so before you start pounding away on your keyboard to give me a proper 21st Century shaming for all the countless ways my child will, might, could, be damaged for life by this reprehensible bed sharing routine, just hear me out.
I understand that in a lot of parenting circles, co-sleeping is a dirty word. In fact, my own husband said over and over again during my pregnancy that the baby will NEVER be allowed to sleep in our bed. His reasons were that it would ruin our relationship, the baby would grow up to be a weird kid who would sleep with us until they were fifteen and, my personal favorite, only hippies do that kind of thing. Yes, hippies. That was before our baby suddenly decided the crib we meticulously researched, purchased and set up in accordance with carefully followed instructions was just not gonna cut it. That was before the constant “tag, you’re it!” at bedtime just became a lose-lose-lose situation. If baby ain’t sleepin, ain’t nobody sleepin!
We started off as well-intentioned new parents trying to establish “normal” sleeping routines with our new baby girl. She slept beside the bed in a bassinette as a brand new infant and when she got too big for that we switched to having her crib in our room. I didn’t feel comfortable moving her to her nursery, because, in my opinion, her nursery is just too far from our bedroom isolated at the front of the house while our room is in the back of the house. The thought of a baby who still wakes up three (or sometimes more!) times per night to breastfeed sleeping alone across the house made me feel anxious and, selfishly, worried about my own sleep. So, one night in a fit of desperation we broke the cardinal sleeping rule. We dropped her in between us and snuggled in…and we all slept!
That night was the best night of sleep I’ve had since bringing baby home fifteen weeks ago. Oh, the glorious hours I might have added to my many sleepless nights had I only not been afraid of “ruining my child” by having her snooze next to me. I called my mom to tell her my brilliant discovery and was greeted with a, “Well, of course, you all slept well! She just wants to be near her mother!” Okay, so it wasn’t some groundbreaking discovery, but to me, it was an eye-opener.
There’s a lot of anxiety that comes with parenting, especially for the newbies. I’m not yet a relaxed, cool second-time mom out buying Luv’s diapers and effortlessly mastering midnight blowouts. Every book, every website, every friend has a horror story about co-sleeping. Whether it harmed their marriage or inhibited their child from sleeping alone until they were 12, everyone will tell you not to start. So, my decision to ditch the handbooks, ignore the critics and just do what felt natural seemed like a really big step. I was proud to just try something new and actually have it work!
All things considered, I’m sure there are a lot of things I could do now or later to screw up my kid in some way. However, learning to relax and trust my instincts in this instance has done wonders for my confidence as a mom and helped a lot with under eye circles! My instincts also tell me that when the time is right, she’ll happily transition into her crib. And for those women who say that you and your husband will never be intimate again if you co-sleep, there is a lot of unused square footage in this house and we get creative when we need to (insert winky face emoji here!).