There were 3 in the bed…

3 in bed simple

Yep, that’s my bed I’m talking about. And if I am going to be completely honest and accurate there are really 5 in the bed if you count Teddy and Iggle Piggle. So that’s me, my partner, our 2 year old Sweet Pea, a loved and much worn teddy bear and a blue soft toy of indescriminate species, all sleeping (or not sleeping as the case may sometimes be!) in a queen size bed.

Before Sweet Pea was born I was adamantly against co-sleeping. My previous work as a grief counsellor with SIDS and Kids had strongly coloured my views about sharing a sleeping space with a baby. I have worked with many families whose babies had died as the result of co-sleeping accidents. Families whose lives have been ripped apart by the simple action of sleeping with their babies next to them. I do need to preface this comment with the fact that many of these families unfortunately had not known about, or had not followed, the safe sleeping guidelines for co-sleeping which can be found here.

Just after Sweet Pea was born by emergency c-section and I was struggling to come to terms with a screaming, hungry baby and my inability to move the lower half of my body I remember a midwife in the middle of that first hazy night telling to just lie my baby beside me in the bed and let her feed. I strongly protested this – I was terrified of rolling on her, suffocating her, falling asleep myself – all the situations I had heard about and witnessed second hand. My knowledge of co-sleeping situations gone horribly wrong would not, could not, leave my mind.

When we brought our little girl home her unsettled nature continued. She would not sleep without being in our arms and even then we would describe her as sleeping in “bursts’ – an not very bloody long ones! She seemed eternally unhappy, unsettled and upset – and so were we. I would attempt to “sleep” by propping myself up in bed and leaning against the wall with Sweet Pea tucked into the crook of my arm. All pillows were abandoned as I was beyond anxious at the thought of one covering her face and stopping her breathing. This went on for weeks and weeks and weeks… To say we were all exhausted would be a huge understatement.

Even as she grew Sweet Pea would fight sleep with all her might. I would rock and rock and rock often to only put her in her cot and have her straight away open her eyes and scream to be picked up again.

I was sick of fighting. I was sick of not sleeping. I was sick of hearing my little girl cry. And so I brought her into bed with us. And she slept. And we slept – well, some nights it’s a bit crowded and those middle of the night kicks to the face are a real killer, but for the most part we do all sleep. My hesitations about co-sleeping have dissipated now that Sweet Pea is older and bigger and my mothering instinct is not clouded by fear, memory and exhaustion. This is not a situation I ever thought we would be in as parents – I was always clear that my child would sleep in her own bed, in her own room. This is not a situation that I wanted for myself and my partner – we are working on ways to make sure we don’t lose our connections with each other as a result of our daughter sharing our bed. This is not a situation that I necessarily wanted but it is definitely what we need at the moment. Our Sweet Pea is happy (for the most part!) and confidant and bed time is no longer the almighty struggle that it once was. To me that says that something is working, and you know what they say when something is working…

How about you? Are you a co-sleeper or is it a no-no? I would love to hear your sleeping (or not sleeping!) stories

3 Comments

3 Comments on There were 3 in the bed…

  1. Reannon @shewhorambles
    September 18, 2014 at 2:47 pm (3 years ago)

    It’s amazing how our parenting ideals change once we become parents.
    I co-sleep when it’s needed. I’m still feeding my fourth baby so if she or I fall asleep while feeding during the night I’m happy for her to stay there. My third spent almost the whole first three months in my bed in my arms.
    Whatever gets me the most sleep I’m happy to do :)

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  2. Mel
    September 18, 2014 at 3:20 pm (3 years ago)

    We’re a co-sleeping family, and it started out of necessity.
    Before we actually HAD kids, I too firmly believed that mine would be in their own cot, in their own room. After all, isn’t that what you were supposed to do? Well, my newborn was also very clingy, or so I thought at the time. I think I lasted six weeks, couldn’t bear the crying or the lack of sleep, and he’s been in my bed ever since. I’ve realised since that he was a perfectly normal baby, and that they NEED the physical presence of their caregivers.
    We’ve also added to our family over the years, and I now share with a five and a half yr old, a four yr old, and a one yr old. My very loudly snoring husband has been relegated to the spare room, where he sleeps fitfully anyway. If you’d told me six years ago about a family that did this I’d have laughed about bad parenting and called them all sorts of derogatory names. My entire parenting philosophy these days is just this: do whatever works.
    We certainly won’t be co-sleeping forever, and I’ve purchased a bunk bed in the fervent hope of enticing the big two out of my bed, Honestly though, right now it works for us all, and I have an inkling that when they do eventually “move out”, I’ll be at least as sad as I am relieved.

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  3. Michelle (One Earlybird)
    September 18, 2014 at 5:14 pm (3 years ago)

    We shared our bed with each of our 4 babies (now grown) who were breastfed. I tried with the first to do the separate bed thing but found that she didn’t sleep very well by herself because we lived in a very cold house. I didn’t like having to get up to feed her in the cold either. We accidently started co sleeping because I would take her back to bed where it was warm to feed her and we would both fall asleep and she slept a lot better in the warmth of our bed. I thought why not, it was working for both of us and from then it was co sleeping for each baby. I would however, always put them in their own bed at the start of the night and so eventually when they slept all through the night there was no trouble getting them out of our bed. Fortunately the sleeping through the night coincided with weaning when the next baby was due so there was rarely more than three in the bed. I say whatever works.

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