Before Judah was born, my husband and I talked at length about co-sleeping. Despite the many benefits of co-sleeping, we decided that we wanted our son to have his own space to sleep. We were adamantly against bed-sharing: we were worried about rolling over onto him, our bed is at a wonky height, we thought we’d never get a good night’s sleep… all of the common hesitations many parents have about co-sleeping (particularly bed-sharing) with their baby. All of that got thrown for a loop, of course, when Judah arrived five and a half weeks early!
Even though we swore up and down that we wouldn’t co-sleep with our baby, we inadvertently started a bed-sharing, co-sleeping compromise with a slight shift in our morning routine. It all started about three months ago and now, we almost can’t imagine starting our day any other way!
At first, co-sleeping in the same room was a necessity when Judah first got out of the hospital; we were still in New Jersey and would remain there for another week before heading back home to Massachusetts. While staying with our families, we set up a portable crib in the rooms we stayed in, so Judah was always within arms’ reach so I could nurse him as needed during the night.
When we finally got back to our home, we set up the portable crib in our bedroom the first night back. After a very long day of travel, we just wanted the peace of mind knowing that he was right there and even more so that he knew we were right there, too. But after that first night, Judah slept in his crib in his own room, just across the hall. I had no problem getting up to nurse him as we were very lucky that Judah would only wake once or twice a night.
Sometime in October of last year, as the weather started getting cooler and Judah was just about six months old, our family started to fall into a new routine. My husband would get up for work just as Judah would be waking up for the morning. Larry would change him and bring him into the bedroom so I could nurse Judah right there in bed with me; it was cold and I just wasn’t ready to get up yet (I’ve never been a morning person). Judah would eat and I could sneak in a few more minutes of shut-eye.
After a few days, I noticed that Judah too, would doze off after he was finished nursing. I remember waking up one morning with him cuddled up next to me, shocked to see that it was almost 9:30 in the morning – we had both completely zonked out! Over the next month or so, it became a regular morning routine: Larry would get Judah when he woke up (usually anywhere between 6 and 7 in the morning), change him, and bring him to me. Judah would nurse then fall back to sleep for another hour… and so would I!
I distinctly remember around month seven that I felt incredibly well-rested for a new mom.
On the weekends, when Larry doesn’t have to go to work, he simply hops back into bed with Judah and me, and the whole family gets an extra hour or more to sleep in. Judah is often our alarm clock, waking within the 7 to 8am hour every morning like clockwork. And once he’s up after his early morning nap, we head downstairs for a proper breakfast consisting of a bottle and something else like cereal, applesauce or yogurt. Sure, my day starts a little later but it’s worth it to spend that extra hour snuggling with my little one in bed.
Those weekend mornings where we can all snuggle together, even just for an hour? They’re pretty awesome. There’s no way we could sleep like that all night, but for a few extra hours under the covers on a cold winter morning… our co-sleeping compromise has become one of those family moments I treasure.
We realize that our situation is unique; this is due largely in part to the fact that I work from home and thus, have complete flexibility in my schedule to be able to sleep in later than most. We’re also incredibly fortunate that Judah is as amazing of a sleeper as he is. Plenty of other babies his age get up much earlier than he does!
We never thought we’d do any kind of co-sleeping, let alone bed-sharing, but this compromise has worked out so wonderfully for us. As I get ready to wean Judah, we probably won’t be doing this for much longer, but I’m glad we’ve been able to experience the benefits of co-sleeping, even in moderation.