Friday, November 27, 2009
Thoughts on CoSleeping from a Fierce Mama of 3
The first days and weeks of parenting my first child, Nicholas, were a blur of fatigue and endless hours of breastfeeding. Day and night, I nursed that sleepy little baby and prayed that I'd get enough sleep to feel rested at some point.
After a few weeks, I discovered the beauty of side lying nursing which quickly turned me into a co-sleeper. Gone were the long dark hours in the middle of the night where I would perch on the side of my bed, trying not to doze off and fall over! Gone was the feeling of dread I'd feel when my sleeping baby woke up minutes after being placed in his crib! Instead, I basked in the beauty of snuggling in bed with this delicious little baby and feeling rested in the mornings.
During one of Nicholas' well-baby visits with his pediatrician, I mentioned that we'd begun co-sleeping. The pediatrician cautioned me with tales of “trying to break the habit later on” and told me I needed to get my baby sleeping in his crib again. Being a young single mom, I didn't feel confident enough to speak up with my protests so I did the next best thing: I ignored the advice and found a new pediatrician.
In the nine years since that moment I discarded the warning against co-sleeping, I have not regretted my choice. Co-sleeping with Nicholas, and eventually with his sisters Lily and Olivia, has been an immensely satisfying experience. From the ease of nighttime nursings with young babies to the important snugglings with older children who don't get enough physical touch during their days, co-sleeping has been an important part of my parenting.
We've various configurations of beds in different rooms as the years go by and people's needs change, but the one constant has been the message we've sent to our children: their needs are important no matter the time of day or night.
Tonight as he was dozing off, Nicholas curled around his sleeping baby sister and whispered to me “I love waking up next to her in the mornings when she's lying in bed cooing”. My heart went completely to mush as I thought “Me too, Nick. Me too.”.
By Kim Johnstone
*Editor's note: For research & information on safe co-sleeping practices, see Dr James McKenna's work at the Notre Dame University Mother-Baby Behavioural Sleep Laboratory