Okay I’ll admit it. This is a rare occurrence in my house … and it is in large part my fault. Since my daughter was born she has been not such a good sleeper for the majority of her life. When we brought her home the only way she would sleep was if she was held … So for six weeks someone (usually me since I had leave and my husband worked) someone would be up with her around the clock. I remember one particularly hard night where I only got to sleep for 30 minutes before my husband was too frustrated to go on.
Something funny happened as soon as she turned six weeks old – she started sleeping though the night (8 – 10ish hours at a time) and in her own crib. Now normally I would say don’t believe anyone who tells you their six week old sleeps though the night, let’s face it, most babies are not doing that. For the next 15 weeks I missed holding my little baby all night long. I missed being able to snuggle with her when the rest of the world was sleeping.
So what does this have to do with my bad habit? I am not sure what happened, maybe a growth spurt? But after 15 weeks of sleeping in her crib and through the night my daughter suddenly needed to be next to me again. Eventually this led to her sleeping in my bed. I know this isn’t the recommend sleeping arrangement and I also know this will be a habit that might be really hard to break but I am all done feeling bad and sorry for this choice.
My parenting style isn’t for everyone – we tend to lean on the attachment side of parenting. We aren’t extreme by any means and trust me I have tried more controversial ‘main stream’ extremes like cry it out. That decision probably did the most damage to our sleeping arrangement. I insisted for a few months that it just wasn’t for my child but after countless well intentioned parents advising me and my pediatrician convincing me that I was damaging my child’s ability to comfort herself, I tried it. The result? A 3 and 1/2 hour screaming session that resulted in a 30 minute nap and a little girl who cried every time we went into her room for weeks.
Now before you try to tell me I did it wrong or I just didn’t try hard enough, let me stop you. My daughter was about 9 months old AND I knew better. Anything that takes that much time, effort, and thought is not worth it. And with my daughter next to me at night we both sleep easy.
Everything has its pros and cons, for us the things we are getting to experience that others are missing out on are priceless.
1.) being woken up by a gentle rubbing of your shoulder by little hands
2.) waking up to good morning kisses
3.) a little extra time giggling and ‘talking’ in bed
4.) warm baby snuggles all night long
5.) the piece of mind she gets knowing we are there and the piece of mind we getting knowing that she is in arms reach.
It’s inconvenient that when she goes to bed someone has to be in bed with her and sometimes she is a very restless sleeper. But I can’t fault her for wanting to be close. When I was little I didn’t like to sleep in a room by myself, in fact up until I was in middle school I used to fill my twin bed with stuffed animals that I could lay next to … seems she may get this sleep habit from her mom.
While she usually ends up in our bed, we have made some serious improvements. Turns out my daughter doesn’t like her crib. We turned it into a toddler bed and my (at the time) 11 month old baby would suddenly take a nap in her own bed, freeing me up to get some things done. If we try to put her in her bed at night she will usually spend most (if not all) of the night there, and sometimes she just likes to sit in bed and read. I can already see that she is on her way to outgrowing sleeping in our bed.
Time changes all things and our little ones only stay little for a short time. I already miss the days when all she wanted was to be held. Before I know it her sleeping next to me will be nothing more than a distant sweet memory. I refuse to sweat the small things, instead I am going to make the most of now and remember those sweet morning baby kisses … you never know, the next baby may not want to be so close.