Looking back, before giving birth to Harper we never thought about her sleeping in bed with us. To be honest, we were not very familiar with the notion of attachment parenting or more specifically of co-sleeping. We registered for a crib, decorated the nursery and planned on her having her own room. And then she arrived. I didn’t want to put her down. I wanted to cuddle with her all the time. She had been in my womb for 40 weeks and it didn’t feel natural to have her lying in a plastic bin next to me. They strongly discourage co-sleeping in the hospital for “safety” reasons, so my husband and I would take turns sleeping, while the other would hold, hug and caress her.
When we arrived home from the hospital we had planned for Harper to sleep in her co-sleeper. It was a last-minute purchase we picked up when we began to learn more about attachment parenting. We knew we wanted her close by and thought the co-sleeper would be a safe alternative to having her in the bed with us. Plus, her crib was on back order so we figured it would be a useful temporary bed.
The first few nights were rough. Which is normal for all new parents with a newborn. But we started to notice some patterns. Harper wouldn’t sleep longer than 1 hour at a time in her co-sleeper. However, she would sleep for hours on her daddy’s chest, her favorite spot. Well, they say necessity is the mother of invention, and in this case necessity was the mother of creating a new environment to foster better sleep patterns for all parties involved. It wasn’t long before Freddie suggested that Harper move from the co-sleeper to the bed with us. Lucky for us we had a California King, so there was plenty of space for the three of us to be comfortable.
Harper began to sleep longer stretches but it seemed that she still was not comfortable. The new “safety” suggestions for babies is for them to sleep on their backs. But as I mentioned earlier, we noticed that not only did Harper sleep better when she was near us, but she slept better on her belly. We spoke to our midwives about it and they suggested we have her on her belly when she naps as long as we were keeping an eye out for her. The difference was night and day. As soon as Harper began sleeping on her tummy she would sleep for 8 hour stretches, and everyone, including Harper, was much happier.
Harper is approaching her 8 month birthday. And what I have come to appreciate about being a parent is that there are so many different ways you can accomplish the same result. Suggestions from books, doctors, family members and friends can be helpful when raising your children. But ultimately the decision is up to you. As a parent, I have learned that instinct and intuition drive the majority of my decisions, and they are always spot on. For our family, co-sleeping and belly sleeping were the solution to our sleep problems. In addition, as a nursing mother, Harper and I are able to accomplish nighttime feedings with little to no interruptions to our nights sleep. And the more we read about co-sleeping, the more we learned about the abundant benefits which helped to reassure us of our decision.
In hindsight, I am glad that her crib was on backorder, because at this point, it would have been a waste of money and space. We plan to co-sleep with our daughter as long as it is working for our family and we will approach (or not approach) the crib situation when the time comes. Until then, I am going to savor every moment with my little girl, whether awake or asleep.