The thing about co-sleeping

I’m sure I’ve mentioned before that the Dude sleeps with me and Mr Chewbacca and has done since he arrived. It’s not really an ideal situation for me at least because I can’t spread out in bed, can’t really turn over and get way too hot. But it is our only option.

People probably think I’m crazy or a tree-hugging hippy or just not a good parent when they find out we all sleep together. It’s not viewed as okay in mainstream society today. I’m not really sure why, given it’s a lot more logical than a baby sleeping alone, but I guess these days people have this idea that independence is everything. So it’s totally acceptable for a mum to spend at least 8-10 hours five days a week away from a baby over the age of a couple of months. People don’t seem bothered by babies not being with their mums. Doesn’t make a lot of sense to me but then again most aspects of mainstream society are questionable in my opinion. We seem to think that a baby growing fast, developing early, becoming an adult as soon as possible is this amazing achievement. I guess it stems from the general awareness that the job of parents is to get children to adulthood, so faster is better somehow.

These days, instead of people just saying, oh, right, your baby doesn’t sleep alone, that’s how things are for you, everyone’s different, they are so judgemental about it, like it’s some awful sin or big mistake. People are terrified of children becoming clingy. It’s bizarre to me because children are supposed to be clingy, it’s how it works, this parent-child bond. There’d be something seriously wrong if a child didn’t ever want his mum, yet there is apparently some invisible limit on just how much and how often he’s allowed to want mum. At sleep time, this limit becomes more rigid.

Let’s backtrack here: when I was having prenatal visits with the midwife, we talked about sleep and  how and where baby would sleep. I point blank refused to entertain the idea of cosleeping. I couldn’t wrap my brain around the  practicalities of it. I’ve always loved my sleep, so the idea of a baby right next to me wasn’t thrilling as I knew it would be difficult to really relax.

In addition, I had judgements about people who let their children sleep in their beds. I laugh when I think about it now. A very close friend had a baby, ten years ago now, and I distinctly remember going to her place when he was probably around the age the Dude is now. I noticed she had her son sleeping with her and her partner and I was really shocked and scathing in my comments about it, not to her face of course. I remember remarking to a very close mutual friend how weird it was that our friend let her son sleep with her and putting it down to her just being a crazy hippy. Why would you do it, I thought.

Fast forward ten years and I must be one crazy hippy! But here’s the thing: while I’m totally cool with cosleeping and mums who choose to do it until whenever the kid wants his own space, I am not doing it because I planned to, and I’m not doing it because I love it. I’ll admit, the Dude is very sweet sometimes sleeping next to me, and now he’s bigger and more huggable it’s sometimes nice to cuddle him. I’ve never been concerned about his breathing or rolling onto his front or whatever. And I very quickly learnt how to sense him waking and how to get him in positions where it’s comfy for both of us, or relatively so. But given the option, I’d put the Dude in his cot. Let’s face it though, he is 9 months, he will still wake for a feed or two. Or he would, if he were a normal baby.

But our little Dude is one crazy ass mofo, as his dad would say. He’s actually been asleep in his cot perhaps four or five times ever. And he’s not lasted more than half an hour or so every time. This is the cot that is sidecarted to our bed, so he’s literally 30cm or one roll away from me. He’s fallen asleep without boobie or being in a carrier perhaps three or four times ever, and it’s never lasted more than five or ten minutes.

I’m sure people don’t believe me when I explain just how full on he is. This is a child who screams blue murder the moment you put him down to sleep, even if he’s fallen asleep in arms or I’m staying right next to him. I read all this stuff about patting and singing babies to sleep but that’s rarely worked for him. I did manage to pat him back to sleep in the middle of the night when he was about 5 months, but it only happened a handful if times. If I try it now he just screams louder and doesn’t respond to my touch. Some babies fall asleep in their mothers’ laps with a bit of rocking or just holding. Not Dude. He occasionally falls asleep in my arms while feeding if he’s dead tired but he’ll sleep for maybe half an hour then wake crying because he’s still tired but won’t fall back to sleep. He refused dummies, just spits them out or plays with them. He’s not interested in soft toys or blankets or clothes that smell like me or breastmilk to comfort. You may as well put a block of wood next to him, that’s how much comfort he derives.

I am good at rocking babies, being as quiet and peaceful as possible, singing relaxing songs. I think my techniques would work with other babies. The Dude is the true definition of high needs. And any other person wouldn’t be able to deal with him and stay sane. There’s no way we could have done anything differently to have him sleeping in his cot. Unless I’m willing to get up every half hour, which I’m not. I know it’ll pass, but yeah, I’ll be so glad when I don’t have to cosleep any more!


Author: curiosikat

Writer, editor, linguist, social historian...

3 thoughts on “The thing about co-sleeping”

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