He has been like this since birth. Joe screamed the second I tried him in the bassinet in the hospital, and has disdained sleeping in cribs, cosleepers, or on any other non-human surface ever since. In case you were wondering, it turns out that the comment "He's so alert and wide awake for a newborn!" actually means "He will never sleep!" Now, almost two years later, things are much improved (for example, Joe will go to sleep for his father! and sleep by himself until the adults come to bed! hallelujah!), but we still sleep two adults, two dogs, and one baby in our queen-sized bed most nights.
(If you're thinking, "no wonder they can't get their baby to sleep in his crib when they haven't even taught their dogs to sleep on their own," um, you may be onto something.)
Survival tip: When you spend your nights being kicked and groped by a perpendicular almost-two-year-old, fully aware that you are getting a lot more sleep this way than you would in any other arrangement, it's extremely important to maintain your sense of humor.
To that end, it is important to remember that having a very light sleeper has definite perks (in addition to being excellent birth control)! Let me share. So, counting at least ELEVEN blessings:
- It's cheap. Who needs a crib? Who needs cute nursery items? Cosleeping even eliminates the need for warm pajamas! (Note: If you dress your cosleeping toddler too warmly for bed, be prepared to have him kick your covers off all night long.) Cosleeping requires no additional furniture, no additional square footage, and no cutesy accessories. Save your money and spend it on yourself instead. And the fact that your child will not go to sleep for anyone other than a parent saves a bundle on restaurants, date nights, and babysitting.
- It's great for your milk supply (and keeps you trim too)! While your better-sleeping mom friends complain about not being able to pump enough milk at work to satisfy their growing babies, you will never have that problem, probably because your baby ingests two thirds of his calories at night. (This is euphemistically termed "reverse-cycling.") Similarly, you never need to worry that your picky toddler isn't getting the nutrition he needs. And for me, anyway, breastfeeding is the best diet ever. For every pound Joe gains, I lose one (while eating very, very well). Forget the benefits to my child: it's all about me and my needs.
- You make your friends grateful! Since pretty much every other baby on the planet sleeps better than yours, your parent friends will thank their lucky stars that they are not you. You'll be happy to oblige.
- It's green! See above regarding frugality. Instead of whining about how sleep-deprived you are, you could gloat about how environmentally sound it is to sleep five mammals to one queen-sized bed. Pat yourself on the back for bucking our consumerist culture and living closer to the hunter-gatherer norm! (At this point, try not to cry.)
- Only one set of bed linens to launder! This one is self-explanatory. We'll ignore the fact that said linens need to be laundered about five hundred times more often that they otherwise would.
- You always know what's up with your kid. If Joe gets sick, I know. Immediately. Don't ask.
- You can continue to use that second bedroom as a makeshift walk-in closet. Remember, I live in a Victorian. A blue-collar, working class Victorian house. Working class folks in 1896 did not have nearly as much clothing as I do, so it probably makes sense that we have only one functional closet for two bedrooms upstairs. But that's not working for me and my wardrobe. So our small second bedroom functions as a large closet. Since Joe won't be sleeping in there anytime soon, this arrangement works great.
- It's super snuggly. I don't always love cosleeping. Especially when my arms are freezing because Joe is kicking my covers off all night, or when I wake up with a foot pressed against my nose, but there are plenty of times when I can't imagine it any other way. There is nothing like middle of the night baby snuggles, or waking up to your toddler's smiling face playing peek-a-boo.
- You will always know when the garbage truck is coming down your street. Even the one that comes really early, at 5:15 a.m. on Fridays. Joe sleeps even more lightly than usual on Thursday nights, in excited anticipation of garbage day. At the first sound of the hydraulic lift, Joe flies off the bed and runs to the window. Even when you're bone tired, you have to admit, the enthusiasm is infectious. The child is passionate. About garbage.
- One day, your baby won't want to sleep next to you anymore. And that will be good, and as it should be, and you will be sad, and probably decide to have another baby. It's nice to be needed. Enjoy it while you can.
- Babies smell good. They really do.