As a first time mother-to-be, I had things like natural child birth and extended breastfeeding on my to-do list but co-sleeping fell onto my list of what NOT to do. As kids, even when my brother and I were sick or had nightmares, we were only allowed to sleep on the floor in my parents’ bedroom. I don’t ever remember being in their bed so the whole concept was kind of…weird. How do you become an accidental co-sleeper?
Fast forward to when I was expecting my first son and became a fan of attachment parenting. I loved the idea of keeping my newborn close to me at night so we purchased a co-sleeper (like a bassinet), that attached to my side of the bed. We planned a home birth for our baby but ended up transferring to the hospital at the last minute due to complications. Two births later, we know I was in the ready-to-push phase for far too long which caused damage to my body that the doctor said was the worst he’d seen all year (it was November 26th).
Consequently, my recovery period was longer than expected and for the first week or so postpartum, I couldn’t sit up unassisted. Thus my breastfeeding efforts were thwarted and the first few nights at home were brutal. My husband had to help me every time the baby needed to nurse and I hated that his sleep was unnecessarily interrupted. For the first few nights, I actually tried getting out of bed and nursing my son in a rocker then putting him back in the co-sleeper–you know, like they do in commercials and on TV. We were all miserable. After a few nights, I had my husband put him next to me in bed and I practiced nursing lying down. Soon when he would wake at night, I could nurse him back to sleep without even fully waking up. Eureka! We were both sleeping marvelously!
We quickly adjusted to the co-sleeping life and my husband was thrilled that everyone was getting a full night’s sleep. I was the most well-rested mom around and the co-sleeper was soon only used for naps then later none at all. Co-sleeping wasn’t perfect but it was a sanity-saver. For the record, we used it even less for our second baby and didn’t even bother trying it with our third, instead safely co-sleeping from day one.
So much of motherhood takes commitment and hard work. Some things you figure out as you go. My new baby is four months old, has co-slept since day one and we haven’t had a bad night yet. Becoming an accidental co-sleeper wasn’t something I set out to do but now I’m grateful for it.