It sometimes irks me to hear others refer to bed sharing as easy or lazy. In the beginning, yes, it was easier – but also survival. When Ladybug was 4 months old she’d nurse next to me on the bed allowing me to drift off here and there. I still didn’t really sleep, but rather dozed in and out of consciousness. I woke every time she stirred, she took a deep breath or I just woke in a panic, forgetting that I was with her in bed. I feared she had rolled out of my arms. I worried that my husband would accidentally roll over her. What if she’d somehow roll off of the foot of the bed?! Months and years went by and the bed sharing was soon accompanied by a complex routine.
As time went on, our several attempts to sleep train were flubbed for one reason or another. First off, I was exhausted. Tired to the point of losing my mind and hating motherhood. Second, my hubby and I disagreed on methods which led to stress on the already tense situation. Third, some of our days were much more difficult due to long hours at work, illness and other daily complications, making a long sleep battle with Ladybug seem unbearable. Lastly, it all just felt wrong to us. I felt like a cold, selfish person the first night I left baby girl to cry in her crib. Attempting the gentle cry-it-out approach, I had left her alone there for 2-3 minutes at a time with a sweet hug or caress in between each stint. It felt horrible and I simply couldn’t do it.
We followed up with other, more gentle methods, which all felt wrong and unnatural to me. All I could think was that I chose to bring this precious child into the world and now I’m expecting her to let go of her security (aka mommy) and sleep in a room alone. Why? I carried her for 9 months…no breaks, no separate beds. Her and I shared everything. So why now should I push her away? Soon enough, she will want to be away from me and I’ll be sad, so why not soak up all of this closeness now?
I know, many would argue that mommy needs her space or that babies need to learn to sleep. To that I answer: sometimes and wrong. Yes, sometimes mommy does need her space. I am not like every mommy, however. I do enjoy “me” time, which I get here and there when I can. But when it comes to bedtime, my daughter’s needs surpass mine. That’s how it should be as I see it. She will always have what she needs to feel secure and loved, even if I lose a little sleep over it. And she WILL learn to sleep on her own. Perhaps I am taking the longer, scenic route, but we’ll get there eventually. My baby will soon be a young girl who is not interested in sleeping in mommy’s bed, so until then, the bit of sleep I am losing is totally worth it. Not to mention the more people nagged me about sleep training, the less I wanted to do it.
So, at 2.5 years old, here we are. I’ve read so many informative pieces on baby sleep highlighting both sides of the topic. While I’m certain sleep training has worked for many, I believe it will not work for us. I have a kid that in her sweet, innocent way makes everything just a little more difficult – eating, sleeping and even pooping. So I’m definitely not looking for a miracle fix. At this point I have switched into another phase of survival, which is to build a schedule around the sleep issue at hand and try to get on with life the best I can.
I spend an average of 2 hours a day trying to get my kiddo to sleep. And it has almost always been like this. Bedtime routines and all, she fights sleep just as her mommy always has. Rocking, nursing, and singing to her for nap and bed time, and sharing a bed with my sweet girl for over 2 years has been both exhausting and rewarding. Sure, daddy and I end up with feet in our face from time to time, but we also get plenty of snuggles. And being the worrisome mom I am, it’s a relief to know she’s with me when things are rough. Maybe she has a bad dream, or we have an earthquake or she isn’t feeling well. I am right there to comfort her and it feels so powerful. Do I feel that this is spoiling her or hindering her emotional and mental growth? Not a bit. If anything it’s quite the opposite. She has no need to question my role as her nurturer and protector. She will feel empowered and confident when she chooses to sleep in her own room as a “big girl”. By not pushing her, I am allowing her to venture out and leave the nest so to speak on her own. Only time will tell and I suppose I’ll write about this topic again in a year of two. But for now, we are making it work.
Disclaimer: Every child, parent and homestead is completely different and I do not in anyway feel that our way is the right way. That being said, I don’t believe it’s the wrong way either. We mommas have got to learn to agree to disagree on topics such as this and stop bashing each other. Some kids sleep well, some don’t. Some kids are more needy than others. And some parents just need to SLEEP!