Sunday, April 29, 2012

On Sleep (how the baby got in our bed)

If you're new to the sleep conversation we've been having, click here for previous posts that will fill you in!

a rare moment with Saf sleeping (almost) on his own

There are plenty of very informative posts out there in the blogsphere about bedsharing, the benefits of it and how to do it safely

I won't try to replicate those.  I'll just share our story.

I am not a bedsharing fanatic.  I don't think it's the only way to care for your children in the night.  I know people who find it difficult to sleep with a baby next to them.  If my husband was the mama, I doubt he would bedshare with our babies - he is such a light sleeper that he hardly likes to bedshare with me.  And we definitely do not blanket share.  We learned these things on our honeymoon.

Anyway.

I began bedsharing with Safran out of utter necessity.  For the first 3 1/2 months of his life he slept in a bassinet next to me.  The arrangement was okay, but I did find it difficult to fall back asleep after sitting up nursing him and then helping him fall back asleep.  Especially if I checked Facebook on my phone in the process and my mind began to buzz, I could be awake for another hour with my baby sleeping soundly.  (I like to call that 'momsomnia'.  It's the worst.)  And he was waking every 2-3 hours anyway.

On the other hand I also worried that I'd fall asleep sometimes while sitting up with him, or while trying to soothe him to sleep and lay him back in his bassinet - which could mean he would end up on the floor or sleeping in a dangerous position.

When he was 3 1/2 months old we traveled to North America for 8 weeks and the first 2 weeks was just me and Saf.  And the jetlag was. so. bad.  After a night of trying to settle Saf until 3 am (when he conked out at 7pm Australia time, of course), the next night I decided to sleep him next to me in bed.  I made sure the conditions were safe and he probably woke every 90 minutes, but I would simply roll over, latch him on and drift back to the sleep I had hardly left.  He probably woke more often, but it was the most rested I had felt since becoming a mother.

Once home, we set up a bed-rail on the side of our bed, which Saf slept next to (then me, then Chris).  We began bedsharing full-time.  When it was time for Saf to sleep I would lay with him, nurse him to sleep and sneak away, whether it was naps or bedtime.  Saf was one of those babies that had to be fully asleep before you even thought about laying him down.  If you thought about it sooner, he would hear you.  Really.  Most naps before we began bedsharing happened in our arms or in a carrier because I just could not lay him down without waking him.  If you have one of those babies, you know what its like.  Bedsharing, and particularly nursing him to sleep while he was already laying down, made life much easier.
this is why you should marry someone with big muscles.
I loved having him close to me at night - in the winter I helped keep him warm and didn't have to wonder if he was comfortable or if his little hands were freezing.  When he woke, I was there and neither of us had to fully leave our sleepy state.  Chris was happy because Saf and I were happy.  Nights were good, felt long enough, I rarely knew how long or how often he had fed.  I never checked the clock.  As Saf grew bigger we were given a single bed and put it right up against our queen bed.  We all had a lot more space to sleep comfortably. 

If you are a breastfeeding mama who is finding it difficult to get up with a wakeful baby, I really recommend bedsharing.  Do it safely and comfortably and see how you feel.  Don't be worried that the child will never leave your bed.  They will.  When bedsharing needs to change later on, you can make it happen.  It might be hard, but if your nights are hard now anyway, then why not keep your baby close while they need you and then transition them when you have many more months of trust grown into your relationship. 

OR

I met a woman recently who shares a room with her husband and two children, ages 5 and 7.  The kids have their own beds but like being close to their parents at night.  They have another bedroom for sewing ... and things.  mhm.  Chris and I are open to having Safran and Jubilee in our room for quite a while.  We like it.  We feel safer and while Saf still needs me in the night, its much easier than having him come to our room crying every few hours.
the joy of your baby sleeping on his own

I love Elizabeth Pantley's "No Cry Sleep Solution for Toddlers and Pre-Schoolers", which I will write more about.  She has a whole series of 'No Cry' books on sleep, but one of her guiding beliefs is that you don't have a sleep problem unless you feel like you do.  It doesn't matter what anyone says about how and where and with whom you sleep, or if they think your baby is too old to be nursing in the night.  What matters is how you feel.

And we felt good.  For many months.  But then,  

Hi Jubilee!!
...we got pregnant.  Mostly me.  When Safran was not quite 9 months old.  The family bed became difficult for us for a few reasons, so we started to make some changes.  More on that very soon!

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