I’m probably gonna open a can of worms with this one, so let them slither out freely.
I don’t care what other parents choose to do, but I personally would never sleep with my kids, and I have very solid reasons for my choice to not do so.
I used to be part of this mom/baby group after Julie was born- a whole group of women who were on the more “natural” side of things. Drug-free birthing, breastfeeding, baby wearing, co-sleeping, attachment parenting, infant potty-training, cloth diapering, baby-food making… you get the picture. Despite the fact that I would certainly be classified as more of a “natural mommy” with my homebirth, breastfeeding, cloth diapering, and so forth, I got a lot of weird looks from the other moms.
When they were all whining about how their babies had never slept through the night, I was baffled. Julie slept through the night starting at four weeks old. She put herself back to sleep when she woke up. It wasn’t a big deal. That’s when one other mom and I both opened our mouths and said our babies slept through the night no problem. Guess what? We were the only moms in the room full of probably 20 other women whose babies slept in their own room.
Well, we really received a lot of scrutiny about our choice to NOT sleep with our babies. Enough that I felt bad, like maybe a “good” parent would indeed co-sleep. So I tried sleeping with Julie in the early mornings. Nope, that didn’t work. I tried napping with her… again, that certainly didn’t work. I simply couldn’t sleep with a squirmy newborn in the bed with me.
Fuck the argument that it’s unsafe and the horror stories about infants dying in their parents’ bed, or the fear that it causes ultra-dependent patterns in children. There is plenty of supporting evidence on both sides of the fight, and that’s not what my decision was about in the least.
I’m an extremely light sleeper, and I struggled with mania in the post-partum months so badly that being anywhere near my kid while I was supposed to be sleeping caused extreme anxiety. Could I hear her breathing? Did that grunt mean she was hungry again? My boobs constantly filled up and tried to explode every time I even thought of breastfeeding, so having my baby near me did nothing positive at night.
I didn’t sleep with April, either. Again, another through-the-night sleeper.
Was it my choice to not co-sleep that made my kids good sleepers? Possibly not, but from what I’ve seen… it seemed to play a role. The times I slept in the same room with them due to hotel situations, etc… they didn’t sleep as soundly, woke up frequently, and I found myself responding to them rather than allowing them to put themselves back to sleep. It seemed to take away a bit of independence that I personally felt was healthy for them- the self-soothing seemed to be an important lesson, and they seemed perfectly comfortable doing it.
In addition to my shitty sleeping patterns, I also chose not to co-sleep for other reasons. My marital bed is a place for James and I to be intimate, to spend alone-time with each other, and to escape from the daily grind. Introducing a baby to the mix gives it an entirely different feel. Perhaps we’re extremely selfish, but we weren’t willing to change EVERYTHING in our lives to accommodate our growing family- our bed being one of those things. Dance being another. It seemed like a disservice for us to include our babies into absolutely every aspect of our lives and have our focus be 100% on them. After all, even with kids we are still our own unique people with our own needs. Our relationship doesn’t revolve around our kids- it’s a separate entity that affects our kids depending on the state in which it’s in.
Recently, my girls’ babysitter was telling me about how she babysat for a couple a few weeks ago that were so dependent on attachment parenting that they hadn’t been apart once from their baby in the several month that’d been on this earth. Before leaving for their date, the mom insisted on laying with her son until he was fast asleep, and they finally left for their evening out 1.5 hours after the babysitter arrived. They gave her strict orders to call them at once if the baby awoke. Naturally, half an hour after they left, the baby woke up. The babysitter picked up the baby, soothed him for a minute, sang him a song, laid him back down, and he fell fast asleep. The whole ordeal was over in just a few minutes. When the parents came back hours later and found out that he’d woken up, they were a bit irritated with the babysitter and said, “We told you to call us if he woke up!”. Seriously? For real? I’m gonna be a judgmental asshole for a second and say I think that’s going a bit overboard. Sure, each to their own, but there are a few cases where the choices people make just seem downright strange. There’s a point where one’s head is stuck so far up their kid’s ass that they need to remember that they are a separate person.
Was my choice perfect for all parents? Absolutely not. I’m not a fan of the philosophy that “one size fits all” in any situation, especially when it comes down to parenting choices. It pisses me off when other parents try to argue my choice to not co-sleep, or look down on me because I only breastfed for *gasp* one year per kid. Quite frankly, it’s a damn shallow way of looking at the world.
Current Mood: Cool