Raising a Blended Family

On Sleeping with a Self-Appointed Cosleeper

on January 11, 2013

It’s funny how we went into parenthood with certain expectations, and then those expectations got blown out of the water as soon as the kid was actually here.

We thought we’d only have one baby to deal with. Scratch that, we now have two.

We thought that Pax would be in 0-3 and 3-6 month clothes during the winter, and 6-9 and 12 months during the warmer months.  We therefore stocked up appropriately for the different sizes/seasons- we never expected him to move on up to 6-9 month clothes while it was still winter!  (oh yes, he did.)

We also had many long and drawn out conversations about how we never wanted to cosleep.  That it was a good idea, but not for us. That it would make us nervous- with our memory foam mattress and love of pillows.  That we didn’t see how we could still be intimate and cosleep. That we felt the arms’ reach cosleeper we bought would be plenty close for the kid to sleep in, and that we were glad that we agreed, as a couple, on this subject. No cosleeping.




In spite of our expectations and prior commitment to NOT cosleeping, Pax has decided to self-appoint himself to cosleeping anyways.* During the day he will nap for short spurts in the swing (longer if he’s sleeping on me), but at night he will.not.sleep by himself.  WILL. NOT.  He must be in our bed and he must be close enough to touch a mama or all sleep bets are off for this kid, and no matter how deeply asleep he was when you put him down, he will wake up crying until you pick him up again and he is no longer alone. We have also tried to have him sleep in the crib with Addie- but apparently, only a mama will do and it’s the same story where he wakes up after five minutes crying for us (this happens whether we place them right next to each other, at opposite ends, touching, not touching…).

It’s kind of sweet when you think about it.  It’s also kind of maddening.

Really, I am of two minds about it:

First of all, our bed is really small. Like, really small, y’all.  I’m almost ashamed to admit it to you, but right now Shorty and I (and Pax) are sleeping on a full size bed. In our defense, we had a queen bed in the upstairs bedroom, but when Pax was born and it became obvious that it would be easier to stay downstairs, we switched rooms with Thing One and gave her our upstairs room in order to move into her downstairs room (which is right across the hall from the nursery).  When we did this, with me recovering from the C section and two newborns and all, moving beds seemed like too much of a hassle (we have a four poster platform bed up there that would barely fit in the tiny little room we now have), so we just let Thing One have it and we took over sleeping on her full size bed. We knew all along we were planning on buying a King size bed with tax money (still are) but for now… the bed is REALLY. SMALL. And Pax, though comparatively small, still takes up quite a bit of space! Poor Shorty often ends up pushed to the edge of the bed as Pax stretches out in the middle nursing and I curl up around him.  Bad sleep for her (I mostly sleep fine), grumpy wife during the day, no good for anyone.

On the other hand, we ARE getting a new bed very soon… so this too, shall pass. And I know that Pax is still very young and it is natural for him to want to be near us.  I want to be near him, too. Being 85% in the attachment parenting mindset, I really love sharing a bed with him and snuggling with him and knowing that we’re there for him to smell and touch (and nurse off of) at night. There’s nothing sweeter than waking up curled up on my side, with baby arms and baby legs literally wrapped around me and feeling his sweet breath against my chest. I love it.

Also in the plus category- it makes feeding him at night so incredibly easy. SO easy.  He usually nurses to sleep and then snuggles against me or Shorty, and when he starts to stir I will just lay on my side, pop out my boob, and side nurse him while we both snooze.  Most of the time we fall asleep like that, me with my boob still hanging out, and he will latch on and off at will all night long.  The negative side to this is that it feels like my boobs have been a lot more drained since we started doing this- him sleeping with us and having unlimited milk supply is taking a toll on them.  I know that right now it’s not doing him any harm (and I still have enough to feed him during the day, though not to pump extra in the morning like I used to) but I think eventually it will be hard to get him to sleep on his own/not nurse all night when the time comes.  Cross that bridge when we come to it, I guess. Benefits outweigh the negatives for now.

Overall, I really like sleeping with our self-appointed cosleeper. Shorty has more reservations about it than I do, but she’s also the one getting less sleep.  Hopefully that will change when we get our new king size bed here soon.

The only other problem with allowing our son to cosleep at will is that, when I said he won’t sleep alone, I meant it. He won’t. sleep. alone. at night, not even if you get him deeply to sleep laying with you in bed and then leave him after he’s good and asleep.  He inevitably wakes up crying in less than 5 minutes after you leave him.  This is a problem (obviously) because we have adult things to do (like laundry, get your filthy mind out of the gutter!) and not a lot of time to do them except when babies are sleeping, and also because it would be nice to just have some adults-only time in the evenings after babies and kid are in bed. It’s also problematic because his idea of an acceptable bedtime is somewhere in the seven-to-eight o’clock range… obviously, we’re not ready to go to bed for the night with him at seven o’clock! What usually happens is that he falls asleep on one of us out in the common areas, but sleeps lightly and ends up getting woken up by noise from the TV or Thing One or us. Once he wakes up, he is (over)tired and cranky and very very hard to get back to sleep.  He’s a baby, he’s very young and he needs to get to sleep early and we understand that, but it’s hard to balance the needs of a baby who just wants to sleep ON you with the needs of a household and the need to have quality adults-only time with my wife.  We’re still trying to figure this piece of the puzzle out, so if you have any suggestions, holler!


*In case you’re wondering, Addie has never been a cosleeper. We had a little bit of trouble in the beginning but then we started swaddling her, and ever since we did that she transitioned to sleeping on her own in the crib just fine. And now we don’t even swaddle her and she still does just fine!  I have to admit, I’m grateful. Two babies in bed would be a bit much!


8 responses to “On Sleeping with a Self-Appointed Cosleeper

  1. LaurieAnn says:

    I could have written this. Every last word. Including the boob hanging out, the inability to do laundry (wink), and the self-appointed part! The only difference is that I don’t sleep well with him in the bed, but Heather does ok. Other than that, we are in the same boat!

  2. allisonlee says:

    Heating pads freak me out personally, but I’ve heard putting one under the baby’s mattress can help them sleep better… maybe you could do that in the co-sleeper from 7pm-your bedtime. Or a hot water bottle if you’re freaked out by heating pads like I am.

  3. I have one of those (a self appointed cosleeper) too. The co-sleeper bassinet has become an extension of my nightstand – holding tissues and diapers and such! Oh well…

  4. Mary says:

    Yeah, cosleeping in a full-I remember those days. Earlier in the evening we would just keep her downstairs with us and if she was tired she would sleep on us even with lights and noise. At about six months we set up her crib, put her down in it one night, and she slept for six hours with no sleep training.

  5. X says:

    The only suggestion I had was the swaddle, which it sounds like you may have tried… and making sure it’s SUPER tight. K has usually been pretty good about sleeping in her own space, though we bring her into bed from time to time to get a little extra sleep 🙂

    • lezbemoms says:

      you know, we swaddled Addie from the very beginning and she loved it. It helped her sleep, it calmed her down, it worked like magic.

      Pax was a whole different ball game. We have NEVER been able to get him to use a swaddle- the second it’s on, he screams and screams and will not calm down until we take it off. Hardly a calming technique! sadly, we’ve abandoned the swaddle for him.

  6. Breathe deeply, and remember that it won’t last forever (even though it feels like it will. I know, believe me). I feel like the only things about this post that I couldn’t have written are the bits about the other children. Oh, and Critter has always been fairly on-target with the clothing sizes, although we didn’t necessarily expect him to be.

    Critter would not sleep at all if he wasn’t being held, not even for naps, for probably the first six months. He slept in our bed until about eight months, then in the crib right next to our bed for a few months after that. I don’t remember exactly how old he was when we got him sleeping in his crib in his own room (I could look it up, or you could, since I’m pretty sure it’s on the blog somewhere), but honestly, the moving him into his own room was the easiest part.

    We, too, had the co-sleeper that attached to our bed, and great ideas about how things would be. We, too, now laugh at those foolish notions. For the first couple of months, Critter literally slept on top of one or the other of us. We would take turns, with who got to sleep more deeply without being a mattress for the baby, and who got to doze while waking up with every shift and rustle, fearing the baby was about to roll off of her, and subsequently the bed. Even once we could shift him to the mattress, there wasn’t a lot of deep sleeping going on in our house. Oh, and we have a full sized bed, too.

    But it does get better. They get older, more able to deal with things. And at least for us, we could identify a huge difference in the “I’m tiny and convinced that if you’re not holding me I’m gonna die” hysterical screaming, and the “but I’m comfortable in your bed with a boob in my mouth, and I don’t care that you can’t get a decent night’s rest with all the kicking and hair-pulling I do in my sleep” yelling of later days.

    Oh, and Critter would never take a swaddle, either. Everyone kept telling us that it would help, and some of them would even demonstrate, and then they would watch Critter get increasingly filled with rage as he did his best to extricate himself. And then they would agree with us that, no, in fact, swaddling did not work for Critter. It was almost entertaining.

    We did find that if Critter was sleeping soundly enough, we could watch tv (quietly), or talk some (quietly) in bed, after he was asleep. I seem to recall a number of nights of eating brownies and drinking beer and whispering, in bed, after he was asleep. And then we would take turns getting up to brush our teeth, because goodness knows we couldn’t both leave the room at the same time. Maybe you can try experimenting with that, a little? (You guys have a tablet computer of some variety, right? Maybe you could plug in ear phones and watch a movie that way?) It doesn’t help with the laundry, or the “laundry” (I know how very much it doesn’t help with the “laundry”, believe me), but it’s something. And like I said, this stage doesn’t last forever.

  7. […] have, from the beginning, shared a family bed with Pax. Though it was never in our plans, Paxton is and always has been a […]

Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: