I've had this conversation a few times...
Me: "I'm exhausted. Parker woke up a million times last night!"
Friend/Coworker/Etc: "That must be tough getting up and down that many times each night."
Me: "Oh, I don't have to actually get up. Parker sleeps with us so she's right next to me all night."
1) surprised stare with a polite oh, how nice comment in order not to be rude
2) long spiel on how Parker needs to learn how to sleep on her own, that she will be in bed with me when she's 16, that she will turn out clingy. yada yada yada
3) awesome conversation starer with a fellow bed sharer!
I didn't necessarily plan to bedshare, though I always did plan to have Parker sleeping in our room with us in the Arm's Reach Co-Sleeper. This pack n play-slash-bassinet flushes against the bed so that baby is within your reach but in her own separate sleeping space. Brilliant I thought. That was, until we got home from the hospital with Parker!
I felt such a strong connection with Parker from the moment she was born (as I'm sure all mother's do) and I didn't want to let her go. So I didn't. Kris or I held her all day long. Parker preferred that way of life too because the moment we would try to set her down she would cry. Actually, more like scream. We tried a few nights in the co-sleeper but when Parker was laid down the cries started and (1) we aren't ones to let a little baby cry and (2) we were extremely exhausted so we did what worked. I set up camp on our sofa, pushed the recliner back, and had Parker sleep on my chest. That was our routine for about ten weeks until I decided to try moving to the bed.
I was pretty comfy on the couch but missed my wonderful king bed. However, when I tried to show Parker how great the bed was by laying her down on her back, she would wake up and cry. Ah! I worried and researched everything to the moon and back when I was pregnant but never did I think about my baby not being able to stay asleep while on her back. I wasn't comfortable with putting Parker on her tummy to sleep that early, especially in our bed, so there I was, in our bed with a baby still sleeping on my chest. By about twelve weeks Parker was comfortable sleeping on her side next to me, and now she's still sleeping with us, right next to me, face to face, belly to belly.
While bedsharing sort of fell in our lap, it felt, and still feels, like the right thing to do. Kris and I are huge Dr. Sears fans and we really like his Attachment Parenting philosophy (which I'll blog about soon!). We don't necessarily "follow" the AP lifestyle on purpose; we do so just because it seems like a such a natural way to parent. And that's what we've done from day one with Parker. We haven't done anything because someone says you are "supposed" to; we've done what feels like the best fit for our family, and I think that's the most successful way to parent.
I love bedsharing for numerous reasons. I look forward to going to bed every night because I get to snuggle with my baby. When she stirs in the night to nurse, I'm right there for her. She doesn't have to use her valuable energy to get upset when she realizes that she's hungry. There's no anxiety when she wakes up because she's right next to me and knows that everything is okay. By sleeping close to Parker, our bond continues well into the wee hours of the night. And I get my sleep! Parker stirs, I nurse her, and together we fall asleep into a wonderful mother and baby slumber.
Kris and I actually debated on whether on not to buy a crib for Parker because we weren't sure if we would ever use it. Ultimately we bought the crib and organic mattress because, hey, you can't have a nursery without a crib and who were we to know what Parker would like. I can say that to this day, Parker has not slept in that crib once. Not even for a nap. Oh well, it still makes her nursery look cute! And as for the co-sleeper...it is still in our room, filled with laundry that I need to fold. Laundry.never.ends.
Does anyone remember Blossom, aka Mayim Bialik? Of course you do! Gone are the days of hanging out with Six. She is now a mother of two, has a Ph.D. in neuroscience, is a huge AP lover, and is the spokesperson for the Holistic Moms Network. Blossom...I mean Mayim...also has a blog on the Today Show's website. Here she discusses bedsharing with her two boys, age two and five. I really enjoyed this article and I'm glad that she's getting the word out on why parents choose to bedshare!
I'm not sure how long we will continue to bedshare. I have no plans of stopping anytime soon. We'll wait for Parker to let us know when she is ready. Right now, she's not ready and I'm glad because I'm not ready to give it up yet either!
And because I'm all about with picture taking, it would be completely wrong to have a picture-less post :)