A New Addiction

There are some things that are easy to say that you’d never do as a parent. And then you become one.

The first thing I did a 180 on was baby’s bed. I had been adamant that baby was going to be sleeping in one of two places–the lovely crib I had put together or the super pack ‘n’ play that had nearly gotten the better of me during its assembly. I wasn’t interested in a cradle or bassinet and the idea of a co-sleeper contraption wasn’t particularly appealing to me either. Babies belong in their own beds not mine.

At least that was my thinking right up until the first night we had baby at home.

My husband and I were sleeping on our pull-out couch; not only were both our mothers staying with us, but with how bad I was feeling, it was easier to get to the bathroom and the freezer (my need for ice packs was serious). Baby was supposed to doze in the pack ‘n’ play next to us. Then came that first midnight feeding.

Move over, daddy, make room for baby.

Part of it was sheer laziness. I was in pain and didn’t want to even roll to my side much less try and get up from a reclining position to a standing position and walk to the pack ‘n’ play (it was a whopping three steps away). And part of it was exhaustion. I was so tired that I could barely keep one eye open while feeding.

But I think the biggest driver was that I just didn’t want to be away from him. I’d gotten so used to having him with me 24/7 in utero that it was really hard to even be three steps away. I needed to feel his warm little body, hear his whisper of a breath, and smell his baby smell.

But for as sweet and special as these moments with the wee one in the wee hours were, I still kind of felt like I was doing something bad by renegging on my original position on baby’s sleep habits.

Some of it was probably the gazillion pamphlets on SIDS that had been given to me by my OBGYN, the nurses at the hospital, the military doctor we saw two weeks after baby was born, etc. The rules were pretty simple: always lie baby on his back, don’t smoke around baby, don’t use a lot of excess bedding (bumpers, comforters,Β  and sleep positioners are a no-no), and never, ever, ever let baby sleep in bed with you.

So, yes, I felt some amount of guilt that perhaps I was jeopardizing my baby by having him near me at night, even though our risk profile for SIDS is probably zero.

But the other thing that was making me feel guilty was that I felt like I was paving the path to a very bad habit.

I remember when my husband and I were crib shopping. We were at Ikea and I was trying to convince him that we should buy this cute blue crib. He didn’t want to buy it because he felt that it looked cheap and he didn’t want to put his kid in something that would fall apart. I argued that cribs were essentially disposable furniture anyway–the kid would either destroy itor we’d want something different for the next kid–so why spend an arm and a leg on one.

As we were discussing, a man came through with a five-year-old and a two-year-old in his arms. Seeing an opportunity to throw some informed opinion behind his argument, my husband asked this man to weigh in on the crib debate. Would our soon-to-be-born infant be comfortable and safe in a crib that cost $130?

“Would you put your kid to sleep in that?” my husband asked him, pointing to the crib I liked.

The guy kind of gave us a tired but bemused smile–like he’d been there and lost that battle before–and told us he didn’t really know that much about cribs for newborns.

“Our babies slept in the bed with us,” he said.

“This one still does,” he added, nodding toward the babe in his arms.

“How old is he?” I asked.

“Two,” he said with a heavy sigh.

I’d venture a guess that if I ran into the same guy in a year, baby would still be sleeping in his bed.

I totally can see how it happens. Not only is there comfort in having my perfect little one close by my side, but I swear that baby sleeps better (and therefore I get more sleep) when he’s in bed with me. And with hubbie in training for the moment, there’s plenty of room for baby and me.

However, I’m trying to go cold turkey on the co-sleeping because I don’t want to end up with a teenager in my bed. I’m through week three and baby is sleeping in his own bed–the pack ‘n’ play shoved in the corner of my bedroom at my parents’ house–every night. Well, almost always. I still can’t resist pulling him into bed with me after his 6am-ish feeding. Those few hours of sleep are absolutely blissful.

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6 Comments

Filed under birthing, co-sleeping, daily life, moms, newbie parents, newborns

6 responses to “A New Addiction

  1. Erin DiP

    This post just made me smile and get a little teary (blame the hormones on that though!). We’re still trying to figure out all the accoutrements that come with these things, and that’s the next big one. Need to get it right too b/c our place is so small. And with no one with young kids nearby it’s been tough getting input.
    Keep the posts coming, and hope you’re enjoying your summer with little guy! Can’t wait to see you both back in D.C. though πŸ˜‰

  2. Becky

    Well, I made the mistake of letting my little one sleep with me. She use to sleep in her own bed until she figured out how to open doors (about 1yr old). After that, for my own sleep I put her in the bed with me. She FINALLY is out (again) and in her own bed she’s 5 now. She’s been sleeping in her own bed for 1 1/2mons now. Its a hard habit to break but between you and I….I loved having in the bed with me. My husband was always deployed so there was plenty of room.

  3. Jen

    I have so much to say on this subject that I don’t even know where to start. Forgive me if this goes on forever, I’ll try to keep it short and sweet.

    When I’m working with my doula clients, there’s always one thing that I always stress (especially to first-timers), which is not to hold yourself to all of the standards that you dreamt up when you were pregnant. Everyone is guilty of it. I won’t let baby sleep in bed with me, I won’t fall asleep nursing, I won’t let baby cry more than 2.3 seconds, I’ll only dress him in perfectly clean 300% organic clothing, I’ll never, ever let him watch TV or eat junk food, etc. You get the point.

    Once baby is born, you just have to go with the flow and do what works best for you and him. Nobody is judging you or keeping score of the things you are or aren’t doing based upon some non-existent checklist that was created (in your head) while you were pregnant.

    That being said, DO NOT feel guilty about snuggling with baby after nursing, after all, it’s completely true that baby sleeps better when he nuzzled up close to Mom and Mom gets the extra z’s she needs, even if she’s breaking a so-called Doctor’s Order.

    Contrary to everything that I just said, there is a fine line between snuggling with your newborn and settling into a routine that lands you a toddler in your bed full-time. While I’m no expert, (even though I’m doing this for the third time), it always seems to be a good idea to start the babe off in his own area. Once he wakes up to eat, all nursing moms will tell you that laying him next to you to nurse (and most likely falling back asleep yourself) is pretty standard practice. Only super moms have the ability to stay awake and then replace their bambinos back into their own beds. It seems like the act of starting them out in their own area lays the framework for them to not get used to sleeping with you, since theoretically he’ll start sleeping through the night at some point in his life and will therefore stay there all night. (In theory).

    I’ve gone the bassinet, cradle, pack-n-play, changing pad in bed and co-sleeper routes, searching for the magic place that worked best for both myself and the babe. Like you, I find it hard to be too far away from them for the first 5 or 6 months, which is why I finally found the co-sleeper next to my side of the bed to be the best option. (Coupled with a changing pad in the co-sleeper since the mattress that comes in those things are akin to concrete). She’s right there beside me so I can see and hear her and when she wakes up, I barely have to move a muscle to get her into bed to feed her. I’ve even almost perfected the slide back into it without waking her up, if I awake again before she does.

    Just know that everything you’re doing is perfect. Whatever works best for you is what’s best for Aleksi. Every mom goes through the same struggles and no one is judging you for what you find is best for the two of you. Noelle sleeps next to me (mostly in the co-sleeper) on a fluffy fleece changing pad cover, on her belly. It goes against everything the medical field tells me to do, but it makes her the most happy, which in turn makes me happy. I just don’t divulge that information when asked by her doc what the sleeping arrangements are. πŸ™‚

    • I definitely think this whole baby sleepy time is a tricky area. There’s baby’s happiness, mom’s need, and doctors’ recommendations and it’s really hard to balance all three. Plus, as Erin pointed out, there are the logistics of where you’re living. if you’ve got a small condo, there’s the concern over too much gear and then if you’re living on two levels, there’s the issue of having baby gear upstairs and down for convenience. And I swear all the SIDS info out there is made to scare the heck out of new moms (and dads). I’m so glad I had a friend, who’s the mommy to triplets, put some perspective on things. She reminded me that when her three little ones were born, they were in the NICU and the nurses there put them to sleep on their tummies. Her takeaway: Don’t believe everything you read. But to get back to the co-sleeping issue, I’m just worried that it’ll get harder to break the further down the road it goes. So, Jen, I think maybe you’ve got the right solution–start the wee one out in his own bed and whatever happens between then and dawn happens. πŸ™‚

  4. Teresa

    Yup, that’s what I did. I would put her to sleep in her cripb and when she woke up for that after midnight feeding I would lay down in the double bed in ABC’s room with her in the early weeks to feed her. Often I’d fall asleep and wake up with her fussing for her next feeding. I’d feed her then and we’d drift off again until wake up time. After about a month or six weeks I started feeding her in the rocker and putting her back in bed afterward. It was tough but I”m glad I did it. She’s 10 and I still sing her to sleep every night in her own bed. I am pretty sure she’d still be in bed with us if I hadn’t done that early….But when they are as small as Alexsi I think the co-sleeping thing is just fine.

  5. Yes, I’m trying to just keep what I’m doing, with the hope that eventually he’ll sleep through the night in his own bed (eventually). We had a really good night last night, but the long nap this afternoon makes me think that’s a one-time (or at least a not-that-often) thing. Hope you are well, Teresa. πŸ™‚

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