Why we co-sleep

We have two cribs, two pack-n-plays and a co-sleeper in our house and the baby has not spent the night in any of them. One of the cribs was a gift from Rich's parents. They spent quite a bit on both it and the fancy anti-SIDS mattress for it. And it's usually full to the brim with laundry versus baby. The pack-n-plays were hand-me-downs and we may use them for baby jails down the line but right now they are just in storage. And the co-sleeper ... we'll get to that in a minute.

There is one crib in our downstairs office that we use fairly regularly. It's a safe place to set Ian down if we're doing something and it's a good place for him to nap during the day if we're busy around the house. It was a hand-me-down from Megan and Ben and has served us well.

The reason all these great baby beds get so little use is our baby sleeps in our bed with us. It wasn't something we necessarily set out to do, though I admit the idea appealed to me. But it is absolutely the best thing we could have done for ourselves.

Rich was apprehensive about it. He was worried we would crush the baby in our sleep or he would get tangled up in the covers. For the first few weeks it was a moot point since the boy and I were sleeping in the Lay-Z-Boy (Seriously. Best maternity purchase EVER.) My crotch was healing and we were feeding constantly so I could just lie back with him and then sit up to nurse. Rich slept on the couch and we did okay that way.

When we all decided to head up to the bed again, Rich was very concerned about Ian, particularly since he was in the swaddling stage. We had bought an Arm's Reach co-sleeper with the idea that Ian could sleep there next to me until he got a little bigger. Ian slept exactly one hour in that before I pulled him into bed with me. I just didn't like him being that far away. And while Rich was still concerned, he relented for my sanity.

Since the baby was in the bed with us, the co-sleeper slowly filled up with other necessities. It currently stores bottled water, eye drops, lip balm, spare vials of insulin, my iPad, my iPhone, my blood glucose meter, Zoloft and birth control pills, a spare burp cloth or two, a spare muslin blanket, usually whatever shirt I was wearing the day before and a few baby toys. Oh, and usually at least one cat. The cats love the co-sleeper!

About a month or so ago, Ian got more mobile in his sleep. He has always slept on my side of the bed so that he was between me and the co-sleeper. But suddenly one night I woke up when I realized he wasn't touching me. He had rolled off of the bed and into the co-sleeper, happily snoozing away amongst the phone chargers and cat fur. This didn't seem safe.

So we did the next logical thing and bought a toddler bed rail. I now have a co-sleeper next to my bed with no way for the baby to even get into it even if he wanted to. I would get rid of the co-sleeper, but where would I put my iPad and the phone charger and my water bottle? Where would the kitties sleep? The railing keeps Ian in the bed with me, though, and I'm a big fan.

Why go through all this? When Ian was much younger one of the main questions folks asked me was if he was sleeping through the night. Everyone was very worried about our lack of sleep. I fibbed and told them that he was sleeping through the night from about three months or so. That's not entirely true. The truth is that by four months he was strong enough to be able to nurse while I was on my side so I didn't have to even sit up to feed him. If he got hungry, I would just pull up my shirt and he'd snack until he was done. I admit I hardly wake up for it. I really don't even know how often it happens a night. I'm a pretty heavy sleeper.

And this has been completely awesome for our entire family. No one has to leave the bed all night. Rich rarely wakes up at all and I was only waking up enough to offer a boob and then doze off again. And Ian also usually sleeps through most of it. So sleeping through the night? Enh, maybe. But getting enough sleep? We're all doing great.

I admit a part of me felt guilty about this setup because while it's really easy on me, it can make it harder on anyone who has to fill in for me while I'm away. This happens rarely, but does on occasion. They don't have instant milk on tap and they don't know if Ian just wants comfort or actual food. He may only eat an ounce or he may take five. I have no idea. But I've reminded myself to not worry about this. I'm the one tending to him 99% of the nights and this is the setup that works best for me. So for those occasional nights when Rich or a grandparent are filling in, they'll survive.

Co-sleeping also really helped with my postpartum emotions. Feeling Ian right next to me was a great way for us to have quality time. Particularly when it was 4am and everyone else on the planet was asleep (or so it seemed) it was just me and my baby snuggling.

Weekend mornings are some of my favorite parts of parenthood with Ian in the bed with us. Because he's such a night owl, I usually wake up before he does while he's getting in his morning milk. I have about an hour to surf the web on my phone or iPad (handily stashed in the co-sleeper) and gaze and him and Rich before they both wake up. When Ian wakes up, the first thing he sees is me and Rich and he breaks out in this huge smile. No crying. No obnoxious baby monitor. Just us. It's awesome.

There are a few downsides to co-sleeping, mostly having to do with limited real estate in the bed. The dog can't get in the bed with us anymore. And the cats don't stick around as much as they used to (now that they have their swanky co-sleeper). And if Ian's feeling squirmy, I do get a fair amount of kicks to the belly. Oh, and occasionally he'll get his legs all tangled in my insulin pump tubing which is alarming for both of us.

But those few headaches are far outnumbered. I have no idea how long he'll stay in the bed with us. I doubt he'll be in the bed with us when he's heading to college. But I don't have a deadline for getting him out of the bed. We're winging it and doing what feels right. And right now this feels right.

Rich and Ian have already gone to bed, so I'm headed that way myself. Hopefully, they saved me a space.

our sleeping arrangements