In the weeks before I gave birth, I’d begun to sip on the attachment parenting Koolaid. Now I don’t call it Koolaid because it’s hogwash. I call it Koolaid because the philosophy can become addicting, and seems to often make extremists of its proponents.
Having watched my mother raise four kids in a third world country — where the only parenting “philosophy” was keep them healthy and get them educated, I was a bit skeptical of attachment parenting. But some things started to make sense and sound desirable. One of those things was co-sleeping.
I took a childbirth class in my last trimester and my instructor often mentioned the benefits of co-sleeping — that it regulates baby’s body temperature, that it’s ideal for nursing, that it comforts the baby emotionally. She shared that she co-slept with her children until they were toddlers. I wondered how she and her husband managed to have sex, but was never brave enough to ask.
When Noah arrived, he spent his first few hours of life peacefully co-sleeping with me. I, exhausted after 17 hours of labor, and he, certainly relieved to have made it out of the birth canal.
It was heaven. Looking over to see his tiny face. Having easy access to him for breastfeeding.
When we left the hospital a day later, we continued the practice. It took my beefcake husband some getting used to. One night I heard tiny, labored breathing and awoke to find — with horror — Noah pinned under my husband’s arm. But we soon got the hang of it. Noah cried frequently throughout the night — I assumed, because he was a new baby — and I breastfed him.
By the time Noah hit 4 months old we were finally falling into somewhat of a rhythm. Instead of falling into bed with Noah as soon as we could, we stayed up to watch movies or just hang out while Noah slept. At the time he wasn’t rolling, so we propped the edges of the bed with pillows — just in case — and left him there. And we started to notice that he cried a LOT less when we weren’t in the bed with him.
Vaguely offended at this notion, we decided to test it out. Norm and I dragged his Pack n’ Play into our tiny bedroom (we hadn’t bought a crib) and placed Noah in it at bedtime. Then we climbed into our bed and turned off the light. He woke up 3 times less than he normally did. We sadly accepted that our son did not want to share a bed with us, and started using his Pack n’ Play as both a play space and a crib.
We continued to share a room with Noah when we moved to our new apartment. His playyard set neatly in the corner. We set him down at his bed time, 9 p.m., then crawled into our bed two or three hours later. We began to notice that his night wakings seemed to coincide with our crawling into bed, and to noises we made while engaging in “night time activities”… It was soon obvious that, not only did Noah not want to co-sleep with us, he didn’t even want to be roommates.
Just this week, we said our goodbyes to him, and pushed his playyard into his nursery. Noah — unemotional and unconcerned — slept peacefully through the whole night.
I still think the idea of co-sleeping sounds wonderful, but the reality won’t play out the same for everyone. When it comes to his sleep, Noah wants space and quiet, and those are two things that co-sleeping didn’t provide. Ironically, ditching co-sleeping is what led to him being fully sleep-trained.
What about you ladies? Did you try co-sleeping? Did it work for you? Why or why not?