When I was pregnant with my daughter, I dreamed of having a family bed. I envisioned the three of us cuddled together, slowly rising with the early sun. With eyes, still heavy with sleep, my daughter would reach up to my face and sign for her “milkies.” I’d nurse her, staring lovingly at her sweet face …
OK, you get the picture. And if you haven’t guess by now, I was the overly optimistic pregnant lady. Some may call it delusional.
Either way, I was determined to co-sleep.
My research showed me that co-sleeping gave me the best chance at bonding with my child. It would solidify our breastfeeding relationship and I’d get more sleep since I wouldn’t have to walk the 500 feet down the hall to her bedroom to nurse her every couple hours. Our night nurse after I gave birth even recommended co-sleeping at the hospital since we were struggling with breastfeeding and skin-to-skin is shown to help tremendously.
And yes, I know about the statistics that show co-sleeping can be dangerous.
I know that in more than 70 percent of the 8,207 sleep-related infant fatalities reported in 24 states between 2004 and 2012, babies were sharing a bed with an adult at the time of death. I also know that the Maine Attorney General issued a blanket warning against co-sleeping after five children died.
However, when done correctly (sober, on a firm mattress, without blankets, with an exclusively breastfed baby) co-sleeping can be a great solution for many families.
What I didn’t know as a over-read, over-researched, wildly confident pregnant woman, was that some parenting decisions aren’t up to me.
That lesson and its tie-in to my dreams of blissful co-sleeping took a long time to learn.
Sixteen months after her grand entrance, we finally surrendered to our daughter’s desire to sleep alone.
Alone aside from her two blankets, Larry the Lemur, the unnamed blue and red checked bear, Bear-Bear the other bear, Ellie the Elephant, and Ellie the Elephant’s dad, of course.
A few nights back, our daughter was having a nightmare. Her whimpering had gone on for awhile but I was having a hard time waking her from a dream. So I pulled her out of her crib, and rocked her, soaking up the warm snuggles.
After about 10 minutes I figured I’d pull her into our bed.
I can count the number of times we’ve actually co-slept with our daughter on one hand. And every time, she fell asleep first and we moved her into our bed.
So I figured I’d give co-sleeping one last go.
We crept into bed, she was still asleep. As was my husband. I eased her down between us and boom, her eyes popped open.
“Hi Daddy!” she said loudly and with an immense amount of enthusiasm when she spotted his his slumbering frame.
My husband, surprised and confused, leaped up, nearly crushing her in his panic. At that moment I realized something very important.
While it may not be listed as a reason not to bedshare, having baby startle dad to the point of nearly peeing his pants, probably doesn’t constitute as safe co-sleeping.