As I write, Piglet is asleep next to me while I tap away at the laptop in the blue light that I fear will one day be the new tobacco, slowly killing us all by interfering with our natural rhythms, in our new house, in the king size bed that my mother fears is going to break the loft. We have now been here over a month, and due to a toxic combination of our family’s resident Ikea furniture assembler being currently housebound with a broken leg, and my pathological fear of picture-heavy and text-lite Ikea instruction manuals, we are stuck sharing a room-and a bed-for the foreseeable future.
I never meant to co-sleep. Co-sleeping was the sort of thing you saw on those NHS-produced warning videos featuring a stern-looking Anne Diamond about how not to kill your baby that get played in the waiting rooms of ante-natal clinics everywhere, terrifying all those present with threats of bathwater that can drown, cot bumpers that can smother, and room temperatures that are just that little bit too high (ANYTHING ABOVE EIGHTEEN DEGREES!) for a newborn to sleep safely. The message was clear. Co-sleeping posed a clear and present danger to the welfare of babies everywhere. Co-sleeping was what the Bad Mothers did. The ones that drank a small glass of wine and ate a slice of blue cheese whilst pregnant, or used their bump as an excuse to “eat for two,” or didn’t even attempt to breastfeed. It was Strictly Not Recommended by the NHS.
And then real life got in the way.
Real life came and hit me hard. It hit me over the Christmas period, two years ago, when Piglet’s first Christmas unhappily coincided with his first cold. And as my mother faffed about and fretted, shrieking on Christmas morning that we should be calling the doctor because Piglet’s five month old baby squeaks sounded a bit hoarse, I took Piglet into my bed. We needed our sleep, and the travel cot that my mother had set up in her room for the duration of our stay was not providing it.
Well reader, he’s still there.
Two years later and we are still co-sleeping. I spent last night, as is the custom when I haven’t been required to pretend to be asleep to convince my young companion to do the same, only to end up dropping off for real, browsing online after Piglet had drifted off into his slumbers. But last night I was looking for a toddler bed, the next stage in the cutting of the apron strings, the first whispers that one day, soon, it might be time to do the unthinkable and lie my beloved son down to sleep in a bed that wasn’t my own. A bed of his own, decorated with cars and placed in his own little room, separate from mine. The first stirrings of growing up and becoming a big boy. A big boy who no longer needs nappies, who speaks in sentences and who no longer needs his Mummy like he used to.
It’s all still a pipe dream, of course. Piglet may be growing increasingly adept at using the potty, but still insists on hiding in a corner fully dressed and nappied when nature calls with a “number two.” His vocabulary is improving slowly, but full sentences are more of a long term goal than a current reality, and God knows how long it’s going to take to finally prise him out of my bed for good.
But I know it has to happen someday. Someday he will grow up and no longer need the comfort of Mummy’s milky pops in the middle of the night. Someday I will be able to sleep again, soundly and for eight solid hours, and not have to keep swapping sides of the bed and proffering a comforting breast.
You get used to it. The aching tiredness and the endless sucking and the feeling of closeness and the ability to hear them breathe in the middle of the night; the constant reminder that they are there and they are safe. How will I cope when I no longer have that reassurance? How will I cope knowing that my baby is in another room, so near yet so far. How do those other parents do it? How do they put their babies in their own rooms at six weeks, or six months, or six years, and not ache to feel them at their side and listen to their sleepy sounds?
It’s at times like these that being a single parent has its advantages. No husband to roll over and take up space, or to complain or simply be too big and too present to allow me to share the bed with the true love of my life, the tiny one that I place my hand on in the dead of night, just to check he’s still there.
Soon the day will come when he no longer needs me to fall asleep and stay asleep, so for now I will enjoy it, look forward to the freedom of being able to read a book in bed again once he is tucked up in his new bedroom, and hope that blue light isn’t quite as bad as it looks.
23 Comments Add yours
I love this and really identify with what you describe (so beautifully). We’ve always co-slept. I currently share a superkingsize bed with my two (aged 3 and 6 – actually my six-year-old turns seven in a couple of days time!?) Hubs gets a big bed all to himself so he’s quite happy. 3-year-old currently requires hand-holding to fall asleep which I’m more than happy to indulge as I know in a few short years he’ll be a big hairy teenager and I’ll be looking back on these nights with wistful longing. When he has a nightmare (as he does most nights) neither of us has to wake fully for me to reassure and settle him; SO much easier than if we were in separate rooms. I can’t imagine not sleeping next to my babies ?
I’m so glad I’m not the only one. And I’m forever being complained at in certain quarters by people who think I should be letting Piglet fall asleep on his own, so I’m relieved to hear that your 3 year old won’t go to sleep on his own either!
I used to be a nanny and in the youngest child’s room was a single bed, I always thought it was a guest bed or for when he was big enough to move from the cot. One day I was asked to babysit in the evening and stay till the morning so the parents could have a lay in to ‘recover’. I expected to sleep in the single bed in the youngest room but no I got to share the double bed in the 4 year old octopus’s room, the single bed was for mummy because she couldn’t bear to let him sleep alone. I decided that night after being kicked for the millionth time that I would never share my bed with anyone – oh how we change I now have a bed full with the my OH, youngest and the dog !!!
OMG I can’t believe you had to share a bed with the child! I hope they paid you double-at least!
This is so lovely. Our daughter is in her own bed but me or hubby (usually me!) has to snuggle and be there whilst she falls asleep. And she runs into me As soon as she wakes up, anytime from 4am-8am! Sometimes I wake in the night and I have to go check she’s ok for no reason at all. It is hard being on the other side of a wall! But she can run through if she needs me, she often does, or if she shouts or cries we hear her.
I imagine that this is what will happen once I do finally get him in his own bed. At the moment, his bed and mine are on different floors, so it’s not practical at the moment, so we both just sleep in my bed. I don’t think either of us could bear being on separate storeys!
Oh no! Separate floors would be awful! Id do the same as you and leave it as long as possible!
Co-sleeping is something no decent parent will do (until they have kids and then it’s just something you have to do to keep your sanity).
Agreed! To be honest, I didn’t give it much thought before Piglet was born, and then well, it was just easier.
You are my soul sister! I can relate 100%. I don’t understand how any breastfeeding moms in particular survives without co-sleeping.
Absolutely. It’s such a lifesaver when feeding!
Feel released when seeing this post as I know I’m not the only one.
Your post reminds me of an article on Dailymail. It is said that a research claimed babies should sleep with their mothers until they reach the age of three. It comes from a pediatrician who found that two-day-old kids who were placed in cots slept less well than those who dozed on their mother’s chest.
What a bad news for dads, isn’t it? ^^
I guess it is bad news for dads-although I am a single parent so it doesn’t really bother me! I think it’s whatever works for your family really, and co-sleeping works best for us.
I support co-sleeping, for infants need their mom’s warmth. And toddlers then also need parents to develop properly. I know when kids get much love they grow up then good and happy people. The same I do with my little one, we sleep altogether and are happy )))
I agree! Thanks for commenting.
You just write from my heart. That special day already came at our house. But I tell you that it made the process from our bed into her bed way easier when we discovered COSI bed sheet. Instead of co-sleeping in our bed, we then co-slept in her bed as she could sleep safely in a big bed in this special fitted bed sheet and we could lay next to her any time and continue our family tradition. The transition was very easy.
That’s a good tip, although I don’t think I have a bedroom big enough for his bed as well as mine! I’m thinking I might try and start transitioning him next year. This summer we’ve been potty training and I didn’t want to do everything all at once.
What a lovely post! Co-sleeping was the only way I got any sleep with my second boy and I have to admit having a real life teddy bear is kinda lovely ?
Thank you! Yes, I agree. I will miss having my little teddy bear in with me when he finally grows out of it, which he inevitably will.
I’ve co-slept with all 5 of mine. I never planned on it, bought cots and Moses baskets, but I could never bear to put them down. I felt safer having them in my arms, hearing they were breathing and knowing they were safe. They’re only small for such a short amount of time. They grow so quickly, especially once they start school. Enjoy it now, make the most of it, because all too soon you will miss the head in your shoulder, the foot in your back, the slight snoring and the hair ticking your face and you will find you slept better with them in your bed than you do now! My eldest is 14 my youngest is 4 and yes, she still co-sleeps and despite being weaned, goes to sleep clutching my boob and needing that reassurance
That’s good to hear. I totally agree about them only being young for such a short time, and I know I will miss co-sleeping once it’s over!
I love this post! All three on my girls have slept with us. The littlest one still does. It sure beats getting up 27 times becuse they are cold, hungry etc! Co-sleep all the way. Only people who don’t have little kids would disagree with this I’ sure 😉
I totally agree! Mine still breastfeeds back to sleep when he wakes up as well so it just makes it easy-all I have to do is lean over and proffer a boob.