Friday, February 4, 2011

Fun with Cosleeping.

As I have sharedwhined in the past, baby boy Joseph is not the best sleeper. Even by crunchy granola cosleeping nighttime attachment parenting standards, this kid is a ridiculously light sleeper. He's very sensitive to sounds, light, being touched (also not being touched), being breathed on wrong, etc.

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:

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.)
  5. 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.
  6. You always know what's up with your kid. If Joe gets sick, I know. Immediately. Don't ask.
  7.  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.
  8. 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.
  9. 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.
  10. 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.
  11. Babies smell good. They really do.


  1. Thank you for this! Amusing, and all relatable to myself. After so many snippy attacks on co-sleeping, and boasting/bragging about sleep training (ugh, I can barely type those stupid words), this is what my mama heart needed. My favorite is the little hand that gets rested on my back as we BOTH sleep :)

  2. That was hilarious! And so true. I don't even have a light sleeper (thank the stars) and I still related to so many of the points.

  3. Love it! Lucy doesn't ordinarily sleep with us...but I do like it when she does. The cuddliness & sweetness. You know, until the covers come off or she pees or climbs on top of me to sleep. But you are so right....there will come a time that she won't want to snuggle w/ her mamas anymore =(

  4. Ah shucks, thanks folks! Always happy to commiserate with fellow cosleepers! I do love it, at least some of the time!

    What's with the babies who insist on sleeping ON TOP of the covers (still at a 90 degree angle to mom and dad)?? And we have one dog that likes to sleep UNDER the covers, and one dog that likes to sleep ON TOP of the covers. It's a wonder we get any sleep. :-)

  5. All good!

    And our second bedroom is also a walk in closet - our dressers and clothes are in there, but our bed is in the nursery with the baby's stuff!

  6. That was excellent :-) Hubs and I share our bed with twins, and we bought a king size instead of fancy nursery stuff.

    I've always wondered, why do people who let their dogs sleep in their bed disparage my choice to let my KIDS sleep in mine? Perhaps they just haven't taught their dogs to self-soothe yet.

    Thanks for a great post!

  7. That's great! Glad we aren't the only ones with a babe at a 90 degree angle and a dog (spaniel) in bed. Happily though, our chow doesn't want anything to do with the family bed!

  8. "I've always wondered, why do people who let their dogs sleep in their bed disparage my choice to let my KIDS sleep in mine? Perhaps they just haven't taught their dogs to self-soothe yet."

    Hahahaha! So true! That's hilarious. Mostly, I get very little criticism about my choice to cosleep, so I can't really complain. I guess that's a perk to living in the Bay Area - there are so many far nuttier folks to pick on! It also helps that I slept with my parents until I was three, so nothing but commiseration from those quarters. (Hm, maybe that's where Joe got it from, eh?)

  9. "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!""

    Oh my goodness, so true!!! Every single doctor and nurse who came into my room after my first daughter was born commented on how wide awake and alert she was. And she NEVER slept. Sadly, at that point I wasn't very comfortable with co-sleeping with her. I was recovering from an emergency c-section and she had major latching issues and we couldn't get the hang of nursing sitting up much less lying down. So my husband and I pretty much slept in shifts, passing her off between us.

    I got the hang of co-sleeping finally with baby number 3 and it made my life so, so, so much easier. Wish it had worked with my darling little girl. So count your blessings that you are getting much more sleep than I did.


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