It’s true. Our dirty little secret is out in the open. I’ve been pretty forthcoming about the fact that our ll month old daughter, Violet, is no longer sleeping through the night but what I haven’t shared about as much, is that she sleeps with us most of the time. Before I dive into the why, the how, and our struggles with it, I just want to be clear. We are not looking for people to weigh in on our choices. We have some amazing friends and family in our lives who have given us great resources but at the end of the day, we are the parents and whatever we choose for her, is what’s best.
Violet has always been a really great sleeper since birth. She was very self-regulatory which meant a routine wasn’t really an issue. She got sleepy at the same times every day, didn’t want to be swaddled but slept in her bassinet on her back very well. We did use a Snuggle Me Organic lounger in her bassinet (gasp!) but promptly transitioned out of that when she began rolling over. She moved to her own room at around 6 1/2 months and had no issues. She slept until after 6:00 a.m. most days and was not taking night bottles anymore.
Fast forward to February of this year. Girlfriend was around 8 months when she got a terrible cold. I’m talking choking on her own snot, fever, can’t go to daycare, SICK. Because we are new parents and terrified of RSV, we let her sleep with us so we could keep a better eye on her. This was mostly for our sake and I 100% take responsibility for that one. Cut to the next week and we’re on vacation- a strange place and literally hundreds of new experiences/foods/sites a day. She slept in our bed for that entire week. When we returned home, we had a few good nights but ultimately began waking up multiple times a night to soothe her. The only way she (and we) would get any sleep was by snuggling up between us in our bed. Mind you, our sleep wasn’t nearly as fitful as hers but any sleep was better than no sleep for two parents who work full time and then some.
So now as we are coming up on her first birthday, she is STILL in our bed. She falls asleep in our arms, gets put in her own bed, and then when she does inevitably wake between 1:00-2:00 a.m., we take turns getting up and bringing her in the sleep the rest of the night. Ya’ll sleep deprivation is REAL and sometimes we just need a few hours of crappy sleep if the alternative is no sleep at all. Having an emotionally charged, stand-off in her room at 2:00 a.m. doesn’t feel so helpful when I have to be up for work in 4 hours. And yes, we’ve read up on sleep techniques and know the importance of routine but we are working parents in 2019 who also rely on other caregivers for our child so sometimes we’ve just gotta go with the flow.
So we’ve been co-sleeping for almost three months and although we would like to have her in her own bed sooner rather than later, it’s not all bad. Co-sleeping has helped us feel safe. When she’s sick or we’ve had a weird day, we like to keep her close. Yes it has it’s downsides but she will leave us one day and that day will come far too soon. There’s really nothing better than when she wakes in the night and wiggles herself closer to get a good cuddle. If she needs a snuggle to feel safe, then who am I to deny her? Violet is also down to one nap a day if we’re lucky- I’m not kidding this girl doesn’t sleep! So if co-sleeping helps her get ample rest, then that’s what we’re going to do.
There’s a ton of stigma around co-sleeping and I’ve literally said (more than once) that I would never let my child sleep in my bed. But here we are. I’ve talked to so many moms who co-sleep with their children but don’t really talk about it because of other people’s perceptions of it. But co-sleeping can be tough, even if it’s by choice and it feels a whole lot better to talk through those things with moms who get it, without fear of being mom-shamed. So if you’re there with me now, I’m sending good vibes and coffee your way, and if you don’t co-sleep now, just remember that one day you may have to. Be kind to moms who do things differently than you and be kind to yourself because there’s no rulebook for this parenting thing and sometimes you’ve just gotta roll with it.