Tales of an accidental co-sleeper

Before I became a parent, I hadn’t given much thought to where my baby would sleep.

I just envisioned him sleeping in a bassinet in our room and then transitioning to a cot in his own room.

But my boy, he was one of those difficult sleepers. He could never be put down when he was small; even if he was in the deepest sleep he would wake up screaming. So I got used to him sleeping on me, or in his Ergo, he fed to sleep almost every sleep. I felt I was doing it all wrong. But in the battle of sanity and doing it ‘right’, sanity won. I just went with it. I did whatever I could to get him to sleep, even if I had to be couch bound for an hour or so.

Cue the beginning of our co-sleeping relationship. When he woke at night, it was much easier to bring him into bed with us for a feed. I would nod back to sleep and he would too, tucked up between us, with my body curled around him like a giant C.

I still had an inward battle with the kind of ‘attachment parenting’ that I found myself partaking in, but for the most part it was working and I felt I was supporting my boy the only way I knew how.

As he grew older he would still fall asleep after a breastfeed and then I would transition him into his cot until his first wake up where I would get him and tuck him into bed with us.

It was a routine that although not ideal, worked for us.

Right up until now. At just over 15 months, J was starting to wake earlier and was still waking and feeding at least twice a night.

He would flail and kick and move himself into a horizontal sleeping position between us.

I was starting to feel worn out, and a tad resentful. I felt my reserve of selflessness was drying up and I was starting to yearn for space and room and more of a routine.

So this week, we’ve started a change. I’ve been waiting for the right time ever since the move but always found an excuse.

However, on Tuesday night when I was having difficulty getting J off to sleep Mr P put the boy to bed in his cot after reading him a few stories. I was in the shower and came out to the sound of crying.

‘I’m just trying something,’ said Mr P.

I looked at Mr P with a shocked look ‘we haven’t discussed this’.

Truth was, I was scared. I wasn’t into the idea of ‘controlled crying’ and I hadn’t really read up on any techniques of this kind.

But I was ready to get some control back. I was sick of sitting on the couch feeding my toddler to sleep. I left Mr P to it.

The crying very quickly became more and more sporadic and then silence in 15 minutes. With some patting and soothing in between. To say I was shocked was an understatement.

He then went onto sleep until 3am – again I was amazed. He had been waking at 9.30pm every night lately. These instant results buoyed me. I was confident we were both ready for this.

So this week I’ve been working hard to get him into a sleep routine. Every nap and every night sleep, I now take J into his room and read him his stories. I then hug him and tell him its time for sleep. I put him in his cot and pat him while I whispering ‘Sleepy time for Jarvis’ like a woman possessed. Most times he stays lying down and will drift off to sleep in 10 minutes with no crying. If he sits himself up, I get up and leave him for a few minutes and go back in again and start patting.

It’s still early days, but I’m really starting to see the improvements. In my boy and in myself. My boy is sleeping longer day and night and I’m starting to feel more energised and positive.

I am happy we’ve taken this step now but I wouldn’t change our co-sleeping time, as accidental as it may have been. It was the ideal way to calm our fussy little man, and with the permanent move to his cot proving an easier task than I envisioned, I’m confident that sleeping with us was an important step for him.

I’m still getting used to the new arrangement, waking up in the night expecting to hear my boys cries from the room next door or hearing his gentle snore beside me.

But the time is right, I feel the winds of change blowing gently through our house and I feel calm for the first time in quite awhile.

My baby boy is growing up.

UPDATE: My boy slept through last night – a whole 10 1/2 hours. I’m beside myself with excitement (and energy!) Fingers crossed this continues.

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10 thoughts on “Tales of an accidental co-sleeper

  1. That’s great news Bel.. I know this topic opens lots of cans of worms as everyone has different ideas about sleeping/co-sleeping, attachment parenting etc.. and I am not judging anyone on how they let their baby sleep.. I have never been a fan of co-sleeping and both my children have slept in their own beds and rooms from day one.. I did controlled crying with Jack, which worked a treat at 12mths of age. would have lost my sanity without it, to say the least.. Poppy is such a better sleeper and she was pretty much a great sleeper since about 2 mths of age, which I am eternally greatful for..
    Well done J-boy.. Hope he continues to sleep and you continue to get that un-broken sleep which we as mothers crave! xx

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  2. We also co-slept up until Miss A was 15 months old. Initially it wasn’t intentional, and I went through the guilt of worrying about what the impact of this sleeping arrangement would have in the longer term. When she was around 10 months old I got past the guilt of it and just accepted our sleeping arrangements and enjoyed it for quite a few months.
    But as you’ve said, it got to the stage where I felt none of us were getting a good nights sleep (she also adopted the horizontal position), so I decided to try something new.
    A month on, we’ve not looked back. Now, we take it in turns to sit in with Miss A until she falls asleep in her cot by herself. Previously, we used to let her fall asleep on us or the pillows in the lounge, and I knew that was causing us the problem, once she went into her cot and then woke up there, she would cry out for us. Now that she falls asleep in the cot by herself, she is happy to stay there.
    And just like that, Miss A went from being a constant co-sleeper who wouldn’t re-settle in her cot to sleeping through 10 hours straight every night. (It’s taking me a little longer to get used to not waking up, I still do on average twice a night!)
    Best of luck with it all. It sounds like the timing is just right for you too.
    Shelley. xx

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    • Thanks Shelley! I remember reading your post on co-sleeping and nodding along with it … It sounds like our little ones are very similar. Great to hear you’ve had success with the transition as well. I think its nice to hear that co-sleepers can make the transition to their cot quite easily when the time is right for both the baby and parents … hope you start ‘sleeping through’ again soon. I am still waiting too – still waking and checking the clock at insane hours!

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  3. Well done Jarvis! I know the feeling of waking up waiting for the cries and then trying to get back to sleep and looking at the clock. I think the parents have more separation anxiety then the kids. I know A did when Ham finally went into his own bed “all” night. As you know we have co-slept with both our kids and loved it. Second time round I think I have slept more during those early days of the night feeds then I did with Ham. Having a winter baby, cuddling up in bed and nodding off to sleep was more relaxing for me and Lil. I too was “No way that our baby will be sleeping with us”, but what ever works for you I say. I think reading to kids is a great tool, especially at bed time. Ham loves his books and we have started reading to Lil as well. Great blog B. Good work again J Boy!!!! xxx

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  4. Congratulations, I have 4 children and there is NOTHING better than remembering what its like to have a full nights sleep, sounds like you’ve earned it! Great blog, I’m just become a follower.

    Kirsty
    4 kids, 20 suitcases and a beagle

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  5. We co-slept and bed-shared with our son from birth. I just couldn’t imagine it any other way. I remember how afraid I felt as a child alone in my bedroom and didn’t want that for my own children. I guess about 6 months ago I started to wonder when this horizontal sleeper would want his own space and move out of our king size bed. Then in January, at 2y & 3m, he said “I’m going to sleep in my big bed tonight”. And he did. Totally caught us by surprise! We didn’t have a cot, only a king single for guests. But somehow our little boy knew that was his bed. So with a myriad of pillows and quilts and blankets on the floor, we didn’t have a safety rail either, he slept, all night, in his “big bed” in his own room. It was the night before we were going for a week’s holiday to Melbourne and left me totally sleep deprived as I was constantly waking and getting up to see how he was doing. Not hearing his breathing nor feeling his warmth during the night I needed to check on him. Then I wondered if it would continue when we got back from our holiday as we’d bed-shared while away. It did and has done ever since. It still surprises us that our little boy just decided one day that he’d had enough of our space and wanted his own. Now, most nights our son wakes and calls out to me, usually about 2am, and I go and settle him. Sometimes that means I fall asleep in his bed now and other times it means I do the bed shuffle for a half hour or so. Either way I’m not worried. Last night he slept through with no calling out … or did he and I just didn’t hear???

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  6. Pingback: March 2011 Aussie Mummy Bloggers Blog Carnival | Mm is for me's blog

  7. We ended up being accidental cosleepers a lot, and sometimes we still are. It took me so long to move my little man from his cot in our room into his own room and own bed, but we did it. Like you, I don’t regret the cosleeping. I think that its why he’s not afraid of the dark, or going to sleep in strange places. Sleep has never been a scary thing. I’m so glad you’re both getting better sleep, and well done for getting through the transition so easily! x

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  8. I am so inspired by your work! I just stetrad my own photography business on the side in July. I wish I could meet up with you in person and pick your brain! It is so neat to see how your business has grown over the years. You truly inspire me!

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  9. Oh Third Drawer Down..I have been at their store in Melbourne and got your great tea towel..it is so beautiful and makes me happy every time when I look at our wall and seineg it hanging there..I saw the sheet when they had a pop-up-store here in Sydney….Yeah for the calendar, can’t wait to order…

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