Sorry I took a little vacation, but I had a nice week focusing on my family and enjoying the Arizona weather.
I wanted to start the week by talking about something slightly controversial, bed sharing.
Bed-sharing is a form of co-sleeping, where your baby sleeps in your bed with you. This is not recommended by most doctors and seems to be almost taboo in western society. Let me start by backing up six months when I was in the hospital with Emerson.
I knew that I wanted Emerson to sleep in his bassinet and eventually move into his crib when the time was right. The hospital staff was clear that I should never let him sleep in bed with me and reminded me how dangerous it is. The first time we slept in the same bed was that night, in the hospital, and it really happened by accident. I was completely exhausted having had less than four hours of sleep in the past few days. I just finished giving him a bottle (because I couldn’t nurse at the time) and I knew that I needed to wake up in 45 minutes to start all over again. I had Emerson on my chest and dozed off, waking up about 30 minuets later. I was FREAKED OUT! In my mind I had broken a rule at the hospital and put my baby in grave danger. I thought about him rolling off the bed and getting hurt and how I could be marked as the terrible mother who let it happen. (Obviously I was full of hormones and needed more than a few minutes rest.)
A few weeks later, Emerson just refused to sleep in his bassinet, he only wanted to sleep if someone was holding him. I felt like I was between a rock and a hard place. Do I give up on sleeping and force Emerson to ‘cry it out’ at only two weeks? Do I let him sleep in my bed and go against what my doctor says? I stayed up all night, I searched Pinterest and Google and tried to find answers about bed-haring. How can something that feels so natural and normal be so bad for my child? Here’s the conclusion I came to: Bed-sharing isn’t for everyone, but it is for me. Yes there are studies that show it increases SIDS, but the more I dug in, the more I realized they haven’t done as much research as I thought. Statistics are skewed. For example, if a baby is suffocated while sleeping because the mother was intoxicated and rolled onto the baby, that’s considered a bed-sharing death. Even though my guess is that situation has more to do with substance abuse than bed-sharing.
After I decided I was just going to do it, I realized that most of my friends were sleeping with their babies as well. Here’s an example of an actual conversation I had with a group of moms recently.
“How’s he sleeping for you?”
“Well he’s waking up a lot still. I know it’s not good and my Dr. is upset, but I’ve been letting him sleep in my bed”
“That makes it so much easier, don’t worry about your doctor, she doesn’t need to know if he sleeps in your bed or not.”
It almost feels like a weight is lifted when I hear others talk about bed-sharing. There is a large amount of shame you carry with you as a mom. Every decision you make is picked apart in your mind, and you are always worried about making a mistake. If I’ve learned anything in six months, it’s to do what feels right. I know that people are going to read this and completely disagree with me. They’re going to say things like “Just wait until he’s older and he won’t get out of your bed” or “You’re just teaching him to rely on you.” My response is this: I’m doing what I feel is right for my child at this stage. He won’t be a baby forever and I doubt he’ll be sleeping in our bed when he is eighteen years old. He’s only a baby for a small amount of time and I’d rather feel like I did the right things than to spend the rest of my life questioning my choices. I don’t think ‘cry it out’ is evil or mean and I completely respect any mom who chose that method. As moms, all we can do is our best and we’re better off following our gut than the latest baby trend.