In my pre-birth course, I posed what I thought was a simple question about how to set up baby for sleeping at night, and instead received the disturbing news that… he should sleep with me. In the bed!
Are you mad?
Well, they said, you’re not going to get out of bed to feed him every two hours, are you?
Actually, that’s exactly what I was planning on doing!
I swear there was some kind of hard-core SIDs media campaign when I was growing up because somehow I’d already developed a furious inner panic about it and I knew all the things you shouldn’t do. Baby with the mother, yes, but not in the same bed!
But it was a moot point because I wouldn’t be able to cope with sharing a room with a baby. I’d resigned myself to this beforehand. I am the kind of person who does not sleep well with any other human being in the room. And the room must be completely dark. So even though I knew that ideally Sam should be in my room, I also knew plenty of people who kicked their kids out on night two because they couldn’t get any sleep.
But I figured I could at least try. We had a bedside bassinet, but in the end he hardly ever used it. What worked better for me was having him sleep on the mattress next to me. Since my double bed has two single mattresses, it meant he was essentially swaddled in his own space – a bassinet without bars, of sorts, which was fine for the beginning before he could move around.
And weirdly, it was ok. Yeah, he was noisy sometimes (especially in his pterodactyl screeching phase) but more often he was so silent I had to check he was breathing). And despite the night light meaning the room was not completely dark, I was still able to sleep.
I liked that when he stirred in the night or had gas I could reach over and lay a hand on his tummy and sometimes that was enough to settle him. I could scoot over to him if he got really antsy, and then scoot away again when he was done. Since I could barely sit down from the pain for the first few weeks, feeding lying in bed was the obvious solution. And yeah, it was much better than getting up and sitting in a chair to feed every two hours.
Now, I know what you’re saying – feeding in bed is dangerous. You’ll probably fall asleep. But here’s the thing, if you’re someone who never fell asleep with your little one in that crazy, sleep-deprived first part of motherhood then I salute you. Personally I don’t think it’s possible. And one thing is for sure, falling asleep with a baby in a chair or on the couch is far more dangerous than doing it in the safe sleep position. So that’s what I did. I never planned to fall asleep, but I knew that if I did, we would be safe.
When he started to roll, I knew it was time to transition into the cot. And when he hit six months, I needed some distance for my mental health, so now he’s in his own room, and we’re all feeling a lot better about the world!
If you’d told me a year ago I’d be doing these things I would have laughed, but in the end, you have to do it the way they work for you. And let the judges judge!