Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Sweet Dreams

My family cosleeps. The first five weeks of Kitty's life I slept on our couch in the living room with her on my chest. Well, mostly she slept and I spent my nights staring at her and watching every little breath she took. That time seems like such a blur now. I remember several episodes of The Golden Girls and a late night viewing of South Pacific all while breathing in and out with my new perfect baby. 

At around six weeks I moved back into our king sized bed and I took Kitty with me. I was nervous about this, I never planned on cosleeping, we had purchased a very lovely, very fancy bassinet and I fully intended to use it.

Once we moved into the bed our nights became even easier. Kitty wouldn't even wake up enough to cry, I would feel her nudge me when she needed to nurse and all I had to do was pop a boob into her mouth and we both drifted back off to sleep. Up until about a month ago she would sleep in the crook of my arm, I didn't move, roll or change my position in my sleep. I would wake up in the same position that I had fallen asleep in, Kitty nestled near me, always on her back. I took care to tuck the sheet in at the bottom of our bed so that it couldn't creep any further up than my waist so that she wouldn't become tangled in it. I bought a special room thermometer to keep her at the right temperature and we also bought a room fan to keep the air circulating and cool. I kept only one pillow on the bed and made sure it was far from her head. 

One night, I attempted to put Kitty in her bassinet. After about one minute I began to feel panicked, I couldn't see her, I couldn't feel her breathe, it felt wrong. I almost immediately picked her up and snuggled in with her for the night.

I do not care how other parents or their children sleep. It in no way affects me or my family. I don't believe that cosleeping is the best way or that I am in any way a better parent for cosleeping. I just know that it works for us. Kitty nearly always sleeps at least 9 hours a night and is down to about 1 nursing session in the middle. 

Having her in our bed does not bother us. For some reason though, it seems to bother other people. The look on peoples faces when I tell them that she has never slept on her own is a mix of pity and horror. I often hear that I "will never be able to get her out of my bed" or "don't I want her to sleep on her own?" I feel judged. I feel judged in a lot of the things I chose to do while raising my daughter, but that is for another time. What I want to say when people say these things is, "She is not in your bed, so don't worry about it." I think the biggest misconception is that I must feel trapped with her in my bed, on the contrary, I will miss it when she is in her own. At night she has already begun nursing, then unlatching and turning away from me. She doesn't even need me to snuggle her all night, I have full faith that when she is ready for her own bed, she will be perfectly content there.

The concept of "sleep training" is bizarre to me. I don't see my child as a being who needs to be trained, I instead want to encourage her in her decisions and guide her as she grows. I feel that parents who have "sleep trained" consider themselves superior in some way, because they have detached their child from their bed, because they are "strong enough" to let their baby cry, they are better than me. Cosleeping or "sleep training" does not make you a better parent, it doesn't make you a better person, it simply means we chose to parent differently. Everyone is my family is happy, everyone is healthy and I respect other parents means to come to this in their own way. So I would appreciate it if my way were respected as well.

I have no issue being there for my daughter when she wakes, I have no issue with cuddling her all night long and falling asleep while I breathe in the sweet smell of her hair, her milky breath. I know this time will not last forever. Someday she won't want to snuggle with me, someday she will probably slam a door in my face and tell me she hates me. I do not need a shocked look, I do not need your pity that I share my bed, that I fall asleep next to the two people I love most on this earth. For now I want to hold my daughter while she dreams and I want to wake up to her sweet delighted smile. If that means that she takes longer to transition to sleeping on her own, well, we'll cross that bridge when we come to it, just like everything else we have done since becoming a family.