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.