You’ve just birthed your baby. You’re home and ready for a sleep. You’re dying for a sleep. You could sleep for a week if you didn’t suddenly have a new baby to care for. You look longingly at your bed. Soon, you tell yourself. Soon.
You carry your baby out of the bedroom and into his own. You, like most new moms have spent your pregnancy being wooed by images of nurseries, cribs and bassinets. You have all of the above, beautifully decorated and ready to receive your lullabies and your baby’s dreams. As you go to put him down you feel a dull pain wrench inside you. It doesn’t feel right. He looks so small and vulnerable lying there. You tell yourself how silly you’re being, that all babies sleep apart from their mothers and they all do just fine. Don’t they? Your baby starts to cry and you rub his back and stroke his cheek, but soon you find yourself picking him up and rocking him, then finally nursing him until he falls asleep at your breast. Now what do you do? You don’t want to wake him but you don’t want to get stuck in this chair for the next two hours. You’re exhausted!
Carefully you carry him into your room and without closing your blouse or moving him too much, you lie down in your bed with him next to your breast. If your mother saw you you’re sure she’d have something to say, but you need your sleep and there is no one here to help you right now.
You quickly fall asleep with your baby next to you. The both of you sleep well, safe in the knowledge that you are so close to each other. You wake once when he wakes up rooting. He is hungry and needs to nurse again. You both fall asleep in the middle of breastfeeding until your partner arrives.
Suddenly you feel guilty. Will he accuse you of putting your baby at risk? You realize this is something you never spoke about. You thought your baby would sleep in his crib too. You start, “I was just so tired and he wouldn’t fall asleep, and then he did but I didn’t want to wake him, and…” but your partner isn’t listening. Instead he is staring at the two of you and smiling. “I never told you, but Jenn and Doug sleep with their baby,” he says. “I think it’s great. Doug tells me that Jenn gets a way better sleep and he hardly ever has to get up with the baby because when their daughter wakes up she just rolls over and feeds her until they fall asleep again.” You stare at him. “Well at first she didn’t get tons of sleep,” he corrects himself, “because their daughter was all turned around with time and would spend much of the night awake, kicking and fidgeting, but eventually she learned the difference between night and day and now it works great. At least that’s what Doug said.”
Really? People they knew did this? They actually got sleep? She called Jenn and she confirmed that it was true. She also lent her a copy of the new addition of The Womanly Art of Breastfeeding, highlighting the chapters on sharing sleep.
On page 114 she read: There’s the question of how to get naps and good night’s rest. And there’s the question of where you sleep and where they baby sleeps. Your baby would answer them with one word: together.
If her baby could talk that is what he would ask for.
That was all she needed to hear.
Note: I am aware that bed sharing is not something that works for all families. I am not here to debate that and fully respect each family’s decision to do what is best for them and the unique needs of their child. Instead, for anyone considering bed sharing I wanted to provide this food for thought.
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