Saturday, July 30, 2011

A dirty little secret

Photo courtesy of

Before J was born, T and I decided very quickly that we would be a bed-sharing family.  My parents co-slept back in the early 80s and for me it was just "what you did."  As I was discussing this with my mother fairly recently, she said that there wasn't a stigma against bed-sharing but there also wasn't a name for it.  She brought us to bed with her to help establish breastfeeding and, when she saw how well the entire family rested by doing this, they simply continued with their three children.  No one really talked about it, but no one also told her she was making a terrible mistake as a mother (You're going to squish your child!  She will never be independent!  She will sleep in your bed until she's 18!  You and your husband will never be intimate again!).

There are a lot of people out there incredibly passionate about bed-sharing and many more who are passionate advising against it.  But most parents probably fall somewhere in between.  I do not feel like this is a black and white issue.  When pediatricians recommend against it, but a mother does it because it is the only way her child will sleep/nurse/be comforted, she feels ashamed as she keeps this secret to herself.

T and I are very vocal about bed-sharing to help combat this negativity.  We have many conversations with people in all areas of our lives about it.  As a pediatric nurse, T has run into some tongue-lashing (from a woman, mind you, who was single with no children...i.e. no actual experience to back up her opinion) and some support.  I have spoken with all of my friends (who have children or are childless) and many don't even bat an eye.  In fact, a few of my mommy friends have confessed to me that they, too, bed-share when there were zero plans to do so originally.

J does not have a crib and the only time he has slept in one was when he was in the NICU for 3 nights.  While we do have a bed for J where he starts his nights, he joins us shortly thereafter, and always wakes up for the day in between his Mama and Papa.  (Read here a fantastic opinion on how co-sleeping doesn't ruin marriage.)

Here we are napping together
as a family after a long day.

I encourage everyone to be advocates of bed-sharing if it is what worked for your family.  Let this be a dirty little secret no more.

Did/do you have a bed-sharing and co-sleeping relationship with your child(ren)?
Was it in your plan to do this or did it simply happen?


mestills said...

We bed share, but hadn't planned on it. Once we had Leo and were in the hospital he slept so much better in the bed with us than anywhere else so it just became a habit. And I love that we bed share, he is so happy when he wakes up.

Angie said...

We bed share because she hates the crib! We even had an extra mattress on the floor so she could sleep next to us. She doesn't like being alone. At first its great having her next to us with no worries.. but then now she is a lil bit older (16 Mos) and well we have no privacy... Its a habit now so we are ok! I Just hope when she is 10 years old she is not sleeping with us! Lol :)

Jet's Journey said...

@mestills - Thanks for sharing! And do you co-sleep in your bed or his? ;) (Seriously, still loving that bfing picture of you two in his crib!)

@Angie - I'm sure she won't be! It bizarre to me that people try to convince us they won't be independent years down the road. Read that article I linked to. It talked about being creative about your "privacy" with your significant other. Co-sleeping shouldn't affect it! :)

ashley said...

Gah! I accidently erased your comment on my last blog post---but thank you! it made me literally lol too =)

and what a gorgeous picture of the 3 of you sweetly sleeping.

Emily said...

Yes! You already know we do this, but I agree about needing to be vocal to help this be a societally normal thing. It is such a natural thing, and I feel like the changes in our marriage just go along with the many other changes we are experiencing.

Life,Twins,DramaQueen said...

I'm your newest follower from the blog hop! Please return the favor and come follow me back

garagebandfan said...

I have always been interested in cosleeping... Its not for me, nor do I have the right to judge anyone for doing it.
I personally hate the idea that my child will be sleeping in my room at all, but I think that has something to do with my long and difficult past!
I am glad to know you stick up for what you believe in..NO matter what!!

Lisa - the Granola Catholic said...

following from super stalking Sunday, but I would follow anyway. As for your question. We brought my first to bed with us because it worked for us. With a c-section it made things easier. We never went back and at times it was normal to have two kids in bed with us. Even though my kids are older it has made travel easy because they are used to sharing beds. Some nights they play musical beds. I wake them up to find them in a different room than they started in.

Jet's Journey said...

@garagebandfan - You make my point exactly! It's all about what works for you and your family - not what someone tells you is right or wrong!

@Lisa - That's so funny you mention "musical beds." I distinctly remember my brothers and I playing this (in our own sleepwalking state). Many times, especially on vacation, I myself would wake up in the other bed with my brothers but I could never remember how I got there! :)

Mommy of Two said...

We did a little bit of co-sleeping and crib time. Our little ones liked it when they were itty bitty but now they like their own space. I miss my cuddle bugs sometimes.

Natalie said...

It was definitely not our plan to bed-share, but as soon as I got my mits on that little nugget I wasn't ready to put him down. In fact I am not sure he was set down at all the first few weeks of his life. If he wasn't passed out on my chest he was on his daddy's. I vowed to start making the transition from in bed with us, over to his co-sleeper next to the bed and it is hit or miss. He usually starts out there and then stays next to me after our first night feeding. I love waking up to him snuggled next to me. I used to HATE waking up in the morning for work. But it is so nice now because my day starts staring down at his sweet little face. Andy makes the comment all the time how he loves having him in bed with us. During the day he does take naps in his crib alone, but it feels like the right way to do things because he is learning it is okay to sleep alone, but it is okay to sleep with us too. I often wake up with both boobs out, which I think is the most hilarious aspect of co-sleeping. Why even wear a top?

E @ Oh! Apostrophe said...

We cosleep about half the night, and I can't imagine how bf'ing mamas get by without it! Just found your blog; our babies are about the same age :)

Sugardrive said...

Before the girls came, we never ever thought that we would sleepshare. It's so baaaaad. But then, I realized that I would get MORE sleep if they slept with us, but we have a modified approach. The girls fall asleep in their beds, but if/when they wake up in the night, they get brought into our bed.

So, I was also really vocal about it. Got verbally bashed by my pediatrician, was sent an anonymous letter that only contained a cut out of an article from the newspaper about a grandma who killed her grandson by co-sleeping...I was infuriated and felt that we were doing something wrong.

The following week, a friend lost one of her triplets due to SIDS. I know that sleepsharing is great, and I know that it is BETTER to cosleep, but I was freaked out. I knew that if something happened while they were in our bed that I wouldn't be able to live with myself. Irrational, but that's how my mind works. So now, the girls are mostly sleeping through the night, and I wish that they still slept with us. That being said, whenever they do, our full-sized bed feels like a twin-sized. Two adults, two babies, a weimaraner, and a sassy cat. Too much. Momma gets punched in the face and is not a happy bear.

This comment turned out much longer than I originally intended. :)

Sarah said...

Thanks for doing a post about this...because I an anti-co-sleeper BUT I always have an open attitude and would never judge or "lecture" someone who chooses to do things differently than me! :) You really opened up my eyes to what it can be like. I knew from the get go it would never work for my family, and on the rare occasion that I'd bring our growth-spurting son into bed with us at the wee hours of the morning, he didn't sleep well and neither did we. He's been in his pack and play and then his crib since day 1 and it works for us.