Saturday, November 20, 2010

Who Needs Sleep??!

Miranda and Kimberly are doing Secret Mommyhood Confession Saturday today, and as that seems right up my alley (cause, let's face it, I've got tons to confess!), I'm jumping on board, too!

My confession is this:  I like sleep.  I like sleep a lot.  In fact, I'd say I'm in love with sleep.  It probably ranks number three in things I'm in love with, right behind my husband and kids.  See, the problem is, I have three kids ages four and under, so sleep is always a goal and not a promise. 
And here's my even bigger confession:  This love of sleep is why we co-sleep.  I would really love to say that I fully understood the benefits of co-sleeping when we began practicing it with our oldest daughter nearly five years ago.  I would love to take all the credit and say I researched it and decided to do it because it is shown to help babies regulate babies' respiration (it does) or keep their levels of cortisol low (yep) or encourages them to sleep on their backs or sides more than on their stomachs, which helps reduce SIDS deaths (that, too).  I wish I had been that cool of a mom, but honestly, I wasn't. 

When Julia was born in 2006, we had her nursery all set up months before her arrival.  We put a Pack-n-Play next to our bed, but we just thought that'd be where she would sleep when she first arrived home from the hospital or where we could put her for naps occasionally.  Imagine our surprise when we got home and she showed absolutely no interest in sleeping anywhere besides our arms or her car seat.  Almost immediately, she began bed-sharing with us.  This is obviously not for everyone, but it worked for her.  She later moved to the Pack-n-Play, and then a few months later would take naps in her crib and spent part of the night in there.  Once her little sister came along, she wanted nothing to do with sleeping in our bed anymore.  Cause that baby was LOUD.

Brynn was born in 2008, and she just didn't sleep.  Period.  She was colicky from the start.  I wish I could say that co-sleeping helped her, but nothing did.  We still had her next to us, but that's just because she woke up so often we would have been exhausted toting her from her nursery (which, again, we set up months before her birth) to our room, and we're lazy like that.  At about 18 months, when my kidneys were sick of being bludgeoned by her several times a night, we put her in her nursery, and (GASP!) she only woke up one time that night.  She liked the crib.  And since that gave me more sleep, I went with it.  We put an AngelCare monitor in there so I could be assured of her respiration from another room, and then we slept mostly through the night.

Enter Sawyer four months ago.  This time around, we didn't even bother with a nursery.  We knew better! (Side note: he will get a room of his own when he's ready, so don't feel sorry for him!)  Sawyer is a great baby.  He only wants to wake up to eat and then go back to sleep.

And did I mention that I'm lazy?  So he totally shares the bed with us. 
I have gotten more sleep with this kid than any of the others.  Before he can even fully awaken, I pop a boob in his mouth, he chows down, and we all settle back to sleep within a few minutes.  No getting out of the warm bed.  It.  Is.  Heaven.  (And also, this feeding on demand makes for chunky, healthy babies--Sawyer is 19 lbs. at 4 months!--and a great milk supply.)

When I want to check on his breathing, I just open my eyes or listen closely.  I have suffered from Postpartum Anxiety (PPA) with all my kids, so this actually helps me sleep, too.  Instead of convincing myself that I must stay awake and watch him sleep every second, I can allow myself to drift off knowing that it's easy to check on him and knowing that our breathing and sleep cycles will most likely be in sync.  Calm nerves are a good thing.

I must say that we are super-safe with our bed-sharing, and it works for us.  That means minimal covers on the bed, and they stay tucked in below a level where he can get to them.  That means pillows are kept far away from him, as well.  And obviously, parents can't be intoxicated and sleep with a baby, but that's not an issue here.  Believe it or not, we all have our own space in the bed.  When he becomes more mobile, we'll have to revisit where he'll sleep.  I'm guessing he'll move into the Pack-n-Play that we have situated next to our bed now (it did have a cradle piece in it that he liked, but alas, he outgrew it).  People sometimes get confused and say, "Hey, that's not co-sleeping!"  Yes, it is.  Co-sleeping just means within reaching distance.  Bed-sharing is actually sharing a bed.  Clever name, really.  And, as a disclaimer, I'm adding that THIS IS NOT FOR EVERYONE!!  Nor is it up for debate.  It is what it is.  I'm a mommy in the middle, remember?  I don't really care where you put your kid to sleep.  Honestly.  I just wish you good sleep.  And if you decide bed-sharing is for you, please be safe about it.

Now, when kids are older, sleep problems change.  Case in point: 

This is Julia's bed, which has now been transformed into a tent.  The tent is the only way she will stay in her bed at night.  It's a kind of a combo bribe/threat.  We bribed her by setting up the cool tent, and we've threatened to take it down if she doesn't just GO TO SLEEP, FOR CRYING OUT LOUD!

And Brynn?  The one who gave us the most trouble and the least sleep?
Well, she's a precious-darling-princess-of-a-sleeper now.  We lay her in her bed, cover her with her three favorite blankies, give her her Dumbo, and she's asleep within moments.

So, there's my confession.  I'll do anything for a few minutes of shut-eye.  We've got Julia's tent, Brynn's blankies and lovey, and Sawyer curled up next to us.  And in the middle of the night, everyone's quiet and happy and calm, and that's just how I like it.


  1. Hee hee! I loved that you joined. I say whatever works for YOU is the right way of doing things. I think it's great that this works and the tent too! Heck I let my toddler sleep with 5 dinky cars and 2 tow trucks just so he'd get in bed!

  2. You are so right! I will do ANYTHING for them to sleep. Heck, Julia's bribe a while back was that she wanted to get to go see the attic if she went to bed without whining. Brynn likes to turn off her light switch in a certain way and you have to tell her she's a good girl or she won't be 0_0. Whatever works. We all know when momma ain't happy (read: sleepy) ain't nobody happy!

  3. Fantastic post Jenn! I ended up co-sleeping with my first out of sheer desperation. Like you, I hadn't even considered it at first...until I was a walking zombie for lack of sleep.

    SO glad we listened to our baby. Baby#2 was a somewhat modified co-sleeper, she was more amenable to sleeping on her own.

    We do what we need to get sleep. As long as we are all doing it safely...sleep on Mamas!!

  4. Melissa, Thanks! I think more people end up co-sleeping out of desperation than we think. As long as everyone is safe about it, co-sleeping can be a really wonderful thing. It's a great way to bond, a great way to get more sleep (unless you're getting the kidney kicking...then it does the opposite!), and a great way to be able to meet a baby's needs all during the night.

  5. I never wanted my son in my bed b/c we have 2 large and crazy dogs I was always afraid they would jump on him, so we never did that.. but he slept in the room for 4 months and surprisingly slept better in his own crib when we switched.. I wanted to thank you for saying that it's best for you.. I like a few of the attachment ideas but they don't all work for our family and sometimes I get that all or nothing vibe from some hard core peoples!

  6. That's the whole point of this blog...parents have their own experiences and, in general, will do what's best for their families. There is no room for mommy judgement! We need to be here to support each other and maybe share what's been working for us, not to put out that "all or nothing" vibe. I hate that. Both of my girls love their own beds and rooms now, and one day Sawyer will, too.