When Florence was born and sleep deprivation hit me for the first time I spent three weeks being up in the night every twenty minutes after she’d fallen asleep. The time in between when she was awake could last hours but I tried and tried to keep getting her to drift off by all methods possible. I would then gently lower her into the expensive and beautiful moses basket and slowly remove my hands until the last tip of the last finger would leave her body and her eyes would flick open like a switch as she would immediately make a noise which screamed PICK ME UP AND CUDDLE ME! Well three weeks was enough to drive me wild with tiredness and I was at the end of my tether. The only thing that kept her calm was being held and if I gave in with exhaustion and actually sat down on the bed that would physically make her body relax. It was as if she was saying ‘yes, this is what I want, now stop trying to put me in that basket and bring me to bed where I can snuggle and feed and you can doze as I do it and we can both get a good nights sleep’. I caved and co-sleeping began.
Just as I never planned to be a prolonged breast feeder and had laughed at my best friend for being one (not as long as me now I might add – not by a long chalk) I never would have thought I’d have a baby in bed with me but there we were, me, my man and our baby, all sleeping in the same double bed. But that IS what we did – sleep. It was so much easier and actually I realised that of course she was happier snuggled up to her Mummy, who wouldn’t be? On the odd occasions when she had slept in the moses basket for twenty minutes I was up and down checking she was breathing not being able to relax. Having her next to me I just knew she was alright all night. It solved an awful lot of anxiety and sleep issues and I just didn’t care what anyone thought about it. Three years ago there seemed to be great opposition to it, much more than there is now yet everything I read suggested that the UK is the only country in Europe who advise against it. Not only that but the other countries apparently promote it…
Lots of people, from health visitors to friends told me I was doing the wrong thing. Reasons given were that I would squash my baby, smother her in the night with a pillow or my breast, she would NEVER learn to sleep on her own, she wouldn’t be confident… The list went on.
So, did I worry? Never! Florence is and has always been, confident. Even as a tiny new-born I knew she was gregarious and sure of herself. She didn’t want to sleep on her own before but just after her second birthday we bought her a toddler bed and some Peppa Pig bedding and she was happy, more than me actually, to sleep in that on her own all night instead of with us. It goes without saying that I didn’t smother or squash her either although she has given squashing us a jolly good go on occasion! As a breast-feeder I think your body is amazing and tells you what to do. If you are needed you are awake and ready without even thinking about it. I don’t think you ever sleep as soundly as you did before you become a mother but when breast-feeding it’s like you are just on auto pilot all the time anyway. There’s no way I would have rolled over on her and my husband said I would stretch out if he came close and push him away violently. I never remember doing that as it was always in my sleep, my body naturally protecting my baby unconsciously. I love how she would just latch herslef on and although aware I didn’t have to be fully awake or get out of bed. Cave men wouldn’t have put their babies in another room but would have snuggled up next to their infants and we managed to descend from them so they can’t have been doing a bad job eh? No, co-sleeping worked for us and when I was pregnant with Jimmy I was prepared to do it again. Why not? It was a lovely experience for us all.
Florence loves her room now and her ‘Princess Peppa Pig’ bed!
But, Jimmy was born and he didn’t wake up every twenty minutes, he didn’t need to feed all night and would go 8 hour stretches so I put him in the moses basket and was fine with the fact he was fine. I always said I would bring him in bed if I needed to but I just never did. For 6 months he slept so well that we even put him in the cot with a video baby monitor and in another room. I was ok with this, he was ok with this and it worked. Then… He got rotovirus and was throwing up all night for a week, in hospital for part of it and then after that still wasn’t better for a month. Straight after that he got a chest infection and was on antibiotics and in all the time he was poorly he would only sleep on me so of course I let him, how could I not? The only thing was he wouldn’t go back in the cot once he got better… Co-sleeping was well and truly established and it was as if he thought ‘hang on a minute, I’ve been missing out on this closeness, I don’t think so Mummy, we’re not going back’!
I don’t mind co-sleeping, I like it but the other night I thought that because he did sleep on his own perhaps that’s what he naturally wants to do and I have ruined him? Perhaps I need to get him back in his own bed for his own good? So I tried, for the first time ever to do controlled crying. I tweeted to ask for advise and after being told to leave five minutes and go back, leave another five minutes and go back etc I started. He was SCREAMING! Like I’ve never heard a baby scream. People say they could leave another person’s baby but not their own however I don’t think I could leave any baby crying like he did! I did the first five minutes and went to console him. I picked him up and cuddled him until he calmed then I left him again and again the screaming started. Another five minutes and the same. Two minutes later and I could take it no more. I went in to find him standing up in the cot, throwing his little red face backwards and wailing at the top of his lungs! He was, without a doubt saying ‘MUMMY! I NEED YOU’! Well, that was it, controlled crying will be no more in this house.
I appreciate it works for some people and if that’s what you want to do then great – for you, but it’s definitely, 100% not for me! It makes me think of that NSPCC advert where the voice over says ‘Miles is a quiet baby, he’s learnt no one will come’. I don’t want my babies to be quiet babies because they’ve learnt no one will come. I want them to be calm because they are calm and I want them to KNOW that no matter what, I WILL come. Always! 12 minutes of controlled crying was more than enough for me. If my baby sleeps in a cot because he’s fine with it then I’m fine with it too but if he needs me then I want to be there. They’re not babies for long and Florence has proven that all the myths about co-sleeping are just that – myths! It may only take a week to teach your child you won’t come so there’s no point in crying and you may as well go to sleep; it may give you two extra years of sleeping in your bed sans children but you know what, I don’t want that, I’d rather have them with me! It’s such a lovely comforting experience for everyone and we don’t have to do a single minute, let alone a week where any of us are screaming our heads off…
Co-sleeping rocks, I’m never messing with it again and I think, instead of making them lack confidence, it does the exact opposite. I think it makes a child feel tremendously secure (I’m not at all saying they won’t be secure if they don’t co-sleep by the way). It certainly lets me sleep soundly and it beats getting up and down in the night – even if it’s only once! I never thought I’d be a ‘natural parenting’ person but I am. I breast feed, I baby wear and I co-sleep. I love it!
This is what happens in the cot in my house! Play time!
MY LIFE WITH TWO:
This first week back to our normal routine after Christmas hasn’t really been that normal at all. In fact it’s been all change! Florence started nursery for the very first time! She is going to do two and a half days and has been settling in with a few hours at a time. It’s very strange indeed for me! Seeing her in her little uniform and trundling into class was beyond strange, she’s only three! But she looks so sweet and has such a nice time there! I just miss her that’s all and because Jimmy sleeps for a bit in the morning I’ve been at a bit of a loss for things to do. My house is tidy, the washing is done and I’ve watched a bit of day time TV! Unheard of! When she starts doing her proper hours it will be even odder. I’ll not have all the constant chatter and I have to say I’m going to miss her! The nursery teacher told me she’d call me if Florence cried but I actually think they’re worrying about the wrong person’s tears… But it’s a good thing because she enjoys it so much and it will give me the chance to do some things with just Jimmy! I can’t wait to do baby sensory, baby club and I’m going to go to the ‘Big Scream’ cinema too – something I did every week with Florence and LOVED! I think Jimmy will enjoy having me to himself for a bit too. He’s growing up so quickly too and is now standing holding on to something, I need to get in quick and do all the baby groups before he’s walking!
Off to nursery for the first day with her ruck sack on and very excited!