I don’t co-sleep with Olivia, but lately i am reconsidering…
Susan, who co-sleeps with her two daughters, Julia and Sophia, is a huge fan of co-sleeping. Ask Susan about her sleeping choice and she will tell you that sleep sharing with her daughters is one of her favorite parts of parenting.
She often tells me, “Janice — you are missing out on this precious chance to bond with your baby at night. She will be grown up so soon. You are crazy to miss this opportunity!”
And I do love co-sleeping. Whenever I travel with Olivia, she and I enjoy our chance to snuggle throughout the night.
But when Olivia was younger, she slept fabulously in her bed. She was a star sleeper, sleeping through the night from a very early age. Without the distraction of me next to her, I think she was able to get a deep, undisturbed sleep, (not to mention that I got a great sleep that way too!).
But, the one thing I have learned as a parent, is to never get too comfortable in one stage of parenting. Cause babies whip through stages as quickly as they poop in a fresh diaper. You are only as good as your last diaper change.
I may have star sleepers when my babies are four months old – but the moment my babies learn how to sit up in their cribs, they pop up like little springs and scream like lunatics with no clue how to get back down.
And then, even after they are more than capable of lying back down, they still jump up in the night, find themselves standing up and insist I come coax them back to dreamland.
So when Olivia acquired the new skill of sitting and standing, she started to fall apart in the sleep department. It didn’t surprise me. I remembered it all too well from my experience with Jackson. I knew the honeymoon was over. The real fun of parenting was just beginning.
I then proceeded to get in the routine of standing there “holding” Olivia down as I patted her back or rocked her back and forth to get her to fall asleep. (When I took my hand off her back, she popped up and started screeching. I mean come on – logic just tells you – keep patting her back till she falls asleep. Whatever you have to do. Just stop the screaming already!)
However – this temporary solution brings a wicked backlash. Babies remember how they fell asleep. And when their little body jerks awake in the night, they panic and need the same assistance to fall back to sleep.
If they got to sleep on their own, then they can self soothe in the middle of the night too.
But if they required mommy to fall asleep in the first place – then mommy better get back there fast!
Tired of being woken numerous time every night, I recently decided to get things back under control.
So, last week, after her night-time routine, I laid Olivia down in her crib and left. Well, of course she popped up and started the frantic screaming. But I was resolved. I must somehow stop this pattern. I can’t go on this way.
I let her cry for a few minutes, then I went in, told her it was sleepy time, laid her back down and left. Then she was really angry. I continued this mad cycle for almost two hours. At times she quieted down for a few moments and I thought it had worked. But the poor tyke had simply fallen asleep standing up! That stubborn monkey would NOT lie down. She would eventually wake up and start screaming again.
The end of the torture happened when finally I laid her down and she was too tired to pop back up. She finally fell asleep.
I tried it again the next night. More of the same. That crazy little thing just would not give in and lie down! And while I know she was just having a temper tantrum on me, it still made me feel terrible listening to my precious baby cry! Finally, when I went in and laid her down for the zillionth time, she didn’t protest and fell asleep.
But the next night I caved. (Well, maybe you could say, “I was being flexible.” I was merely reassessing and making suitable adjustments to my plan.)
I stayed with her as she fell asleep. I didn’t even have to pat her back, she just wanted me near. (I mean come on! How can a mother say “no” to their baby just wanting to see them?!? It can test even the staunchest anti-co-sleeper!)
But after that, Olivia’s sleep totally fell apart. For the past week, she has woken up a minimum of six times a night! My husband and I are exhausted and I am contemplating co-sleeping.
With Jackson, I continued to do the crib battle until he was about eighteen months. Then I started bringing him in bed with us when he woke in the middle of the night. Eventually, sick of being woken at 4am every night, I just skipped the crib part and put him directly in our bed.
But even though he only saw his crib for naps or time outs, I still didn’t consider us co-sleepers until one day when he informed a visitor, “That is my bed. But I don’t sleep in it.”
So, now I am wondering. If I will eventually give in and bring Olivia into bed with me like I did with Jackson, why am I torturing all of us right now? Why not give in now and we can all get a good night’s rest.
What about you? Do/did you co-sleep with your children?
Do/did you co-sleep from infancy or do/did you just give in and let your toddlers and preschoolers crawl into your bed in the wee hours of the morning?