I started out with the best of intentions. We had a bassinet that my daughter slept in when she was born, next to our bed. She did great in the beginning, and I was able to wake up to breastfeed her in the late night hours without having to move around much, making it easier on both of us. When she grew too big for the bassinet, we brought out the pack-and-play thinking it would be a reasonable transition for her, and she would feel more comfortable with more room to move around in. Well, either we were wrong about her needing space, or the transition coincided with a sleep regression, because all hell broke loose at around 5 months. Hours of crying and my refusal to try sleep training later, she was falling asleep next to me, in our bed.
When I became pregnant with my son, and my daughter was still co-sleeping at 2 years old, I told myself and my husband two things: first, we would get my daughter out of the bed before I got too far along and there was no space for all of us, and second, the second kid would not end up sleeping in our bed. No way.
Needless to say, it didn’t take long before both of them were in our bed with us.
I am a reluctant co-sleeper. I didn’t intend for it to happen, and there are times when I have resented it and been envious of the parents who read their kids a story and then say goodnight and walk away. There are times when I wouldn’t trade it for the world, however. Here are the things no one tells you about co-sleeping, but I will:
I know it sounds crazy, but you would not believe how strong those little arms and legs can be in the middle of the night. In fact, while I was pregnant with my son, my daughter whacked me in the eye with her little hand and scratched my cornea so badly, I needed to wear a clear contact lens to keep the scratch from tearing further. Black eyes are not uncommon.
This one didn’t even dawn on me until it was too late. If you’re lying down next to them as they fall asleep in your bed each night, they’re going to want the same thing when you finally transition them into their own bed. My 6-year-old still needs me to be right next to her bed until she’s asleep. I can’t even go across the room to be with her brother.
There is nothing in the world more adorable than hearing your toddler randomly laugh in their sleep. OK, maybe it’s more adorable to hear them say something in their sleep that they’d normally say in real life, completely out of context. It’s a toss up, though.
I’m sorry to tell you this, but I speak from personal experience. The hours I’ve spent being shoved practically off the bed by my kids, or had to put up with a foot being lifted up and the heel dropping down onto my pelvis, hard, are countless.
Snuggling with my kids is one of my favourite things in the world, and there’s nothing better in the middle of winter than the extra body heat and cuddles. They drive me crazy, they cause me to lose sleep, but I wouldn’t change it for a minute.