I know what you are thinking… why for the love of all that is holy do you co-sleep…. OR… Me too! It is such a divided topic and will spark debate until the end of time. This is just our story and is my opinion. Co-sleeping is definitely not for everyone but something to be considered in certain situations.
Oh, No… Never…
Let me start by saying that I always said when I had kids I would never co-sleep. It is not safe and starts a habit that can be very hard to break. After all, I slept in the same bed as my mom until I was eleven and she remarried. I understood the comfort perspective from both ends but I just was not going to do it. Add in the fact that my stepdaughter has only in the last year stopped sleeping in bed with her mom (only occasionally but it still happened). She slept in the same bed as my husband until I moved in. It was not easy making that transition in one house while it was still a regular occurrence in her other home. Throughout my whole pregnancy, we planned on how we were going to transition from the bassinet to the pack and play to the crib. It simply was not part of our plans. I was not going to have to make that transition with another child.
This is where I insert lots and lots of laughter…
Survival of the Sleepiest
Having a preemie is hard. Hell, just having a newborn is hard and no two are the same. We spent almost 6 weeks up every hour to hour and a half with Scarlett. Not because she was hungry but because she was used to being cuddled by softness in the NICU. We tried everything! Swaddlers, rolled up towels on both of her sides, a warm towel under her… the list goes on. Still like clock work, she was up constantly. My plan was not working at all. We were sleep deprived and desperate. So, I agreed to do the only thing that either of us could think of to try. I put her in her swaddler with her arms free and laid down with her. I laid on my side and held her in my arms, so nervous that I still could not sleep well. Scarlett, however, slept for four hours straight! At this point, I was sold. This was what was going to happen until we could transition her to her crib or pack and play.
I did it as a mode of survival. I knew that if I did not start getting some sleep, I would not be able to function well enough to properly take care of her. We found our groove with co-sleeping fairly quickly. At her 4 month appointment, I discussed it with one of her pediatricians. He of course expressed concern but understood our struggle. He made some safety suggestions that we were using already. An unexpected side effect, is that I feel that it helped to keep any postpartum depression at bay. I could hold her when she was most vulnerable and protect her. This comforted me. I still had anxiety about the dangers associated with it though.
At Scarlett’s 6 month check up, her other pediatrician sent home some papers on the dangers of co-sleeping with my mother-in-law. Honestly, I was pissed about it. At that point, we were regularly putting her in the crib to get used to it. She was taking short naps there. We would also place her in the crib every night once she fell asleep. How long that would last varied. We had a transition plan in place and were working on it. I think I was more offended that she sent it home without hearing me out. I was not able to take Scarlett due to a new job and was not sure what all my mother in law told her regarding all the work we had been doing. In less than a week after that appointment, we had Scarlett sleeping in her crib all night. She was still getting up at least twice a night for bottles. She would also wake up frequently but we were able to soothe her back to sleep.
Scarlett sleeps in her crib every night now. We do occasionally co-sleep on weekend mornings because who wants to get up at 6am on the weekend. This one scary thing saved me. It allowed us to finally get some sleep which we would both need when we returned to work. Yes, I am grateful for co-sleeping. Beyond grateful actually. Now, by no means, am I suggesting that you co-sleep. That is a decision that you must research and decide for yourself. I am merely offering why it worked for us.