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, 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.