I can’t believe I just typed out that title. Can we talk about co-sleeping for a second?
I don’t like to label parenting choices but if I could best describe ours to date, it would be filled with patience, ‘picking battles’ wisely and being firm but fair. Battles are few and far between in this house and for good reason but co-sleeping has been one of them.
When our first baby Molly, naturally shifted to her cot I often wondered what it would be like to sleep with her, there was an element of missing out. I’d see images on social media of these beautiful warm embraces in the early mornings and get this urge to try it. She’d always slept relatively well on her own so I chose not to intervene. It wasn’t until she was nearing two, she’d hit an ill spell and discovered our bed. It all kind of happened from there.
At first I loved it. It was a little behind the scenes of the last year I’d not seen with my own eyes – only through a fuzzy monitor. Soon though I realised I wasn’t sleeping like I used to. I was sluggishly stomping through the day and wondering why. It hit me that those first intense emotions of responsibility in her newborn state were back. Every night I was aware of a little human needing me, even in their sleep. For weeks after when she’d sneak through I was more aware than ever that I didn’t actually enjoy this. I wasn’t sleeping. The kicks the twitching and the wants for constant cuddles. I kind of lost my want for bedtime cuddles of any form after I had the kids. Bed is sleep for me, it’s reenergising, period. I love her falling asleep on me, I love waking up before her and staring at how beautiful she is but the in-between – I struggle.
That said, this morning I feel like there’s been a movement. Not the small human kind, I mean a movement in my thought process. It’s only taken until she’s nearing 4 but I’m starting to open myself up to prospects of not trying to change her needs and simply looking into how I can help my own in other ways.
She’s a smart, articulate, beautifully sensitive soul. She understands there’s dangers in this world now and she’s at the ‘inbetween’ stage of learning she’s ok, she’s safe. I got a message recently urging me to let her ‘cry it out’ for a week and job done. Whilst I respect the decisions other parents make and the reasons behind this, I simply would never choose this option for either of my little ones. I know, if I shut the door on my little girl at this age – the only thing she’d feel is abandoned.
I hate being tarred as soft. I am far from it and I take pride in the respect I have from my girls. I used to make excuses up for not being firmer, putting a gate on her door or leaving her to cry. I’d always use the excuse it was because I didn’t want her to wake her little sister up. In all honestly, I’m not at all ashamed to say today I just didn’t want to, will never want to do it. It’s not that I’m soft. It’s that I know that method would simply bounce off my own child in an ugly, negative way that none of us want in our home. It’s a battle we don’t want, it’s a battle that would create more fight and resistance elsewhere.
After weeks of star charts, nightlights, groclocks, heated blankets and new pink bed covers we’ve come to the conclusion that this may need to be a movement we put on hold. We’re more tired than ever.
I woke up to this beautiful image this morning and I had slept like a log. It’s been a week where we quite frankly couldn’t be f*cked fighting and coincidently, as soon as we stopped the fight, we’ve felt ten times lighter. Maybe this battle is no longer a battle. Maybe it’s not that she’s won but that we’ve met at a place where both our needs are met. We’re at an understanding of where our lives are at and the stage our daughter has shifted into and we’re finding ways round it. I’ve been feeling very conscious of our girls growing recently as our youngest nears her 2nd birthday in just one day. It’s had me considering trying for a third baby but mainly, it’s had me reconsidering all these parts I’ve rushed and wished away. A kick to the vagina is not ideal but I don’t want to wish this need away. It won’t be long before this image is no more.
We’ve been fortunate we’ve had two children who’ve slept 12 hours a night since they were teeny tiny babies. The second little one being literally textbook, I mean she defied all the comments I got about her not sleeping through because I opted to exclusively breastfeed her for 8 months. Her sister was bottle fed, yet as if by magic they found ‘sleeping through’ at roughly the same time. Little Emily put a tiny little baby finger up to those disheartening comments and by the fifth month was in her own cot, in her own room sleeping through without my knockers in the middle of the night. We have 7pm bedtimes without fail, stories, no fights and cuddles. Both kids go to sleep in their own beds and it’s around 11pm our eldest sneaks through – TO SLEEP. Then it’s 7am snuggles all round again. I know, there’s parents reading this thinking that would be heaven.
Thinking about it, we’re really damn lucky. Maybe the fight here should stop. Maybe we should consider that the tiredness could be a whole lot worse. This fight is grating on us more than the co-sleeping malarkey was.
In the break of the morning sun, as my eyes open and my body has naturally shifted to fully function on less sleep (it’s only taken three years.) I’ve become accustomed to things not being entirely my way. I feel fresh this morning, I feel like this fight has been won with an outcome I did not expect. It’s not the outcome I initially wanted but it’s an outcome that for whatever reason is working.
Co-sleeping was a huge no for me pre-parenthood. It was a huge no for me right up until our choices shifted and the needs of my children came into play. The long term benefits of meeting them over my own (at times) have given me the most beautiful rewards. This is one of them.
I urge you to remember that our fights don’t always have the outcome we expect, so be open to the prospects of change. Change in life, change in yourself and change in your expectations.
Change is good. Change gives us the break many of us so desperately need. Let things change. Let yourself change.
*Would love to hear your co-sleeping sagas below!