dilemma

I am really torn, and I have no idea what makes me think it’s ok to post something about this except that I might actually get some good ideas from other parents out there in the blogosphere. I hope so.
I am afraid that we may have made a mistake in ending our bed sharing days with Sufyan. I know that we had good reason. I was going perfectly insane from sleep deprivation when he was in our bed. And we had tried seemingly every configuration of bed sharing and co-sleeping. We slept: all of us in bed, then just me and S, then just S and his baba, then all of us back in our regular bed with a baby hammock for S for some of the night, then all of us in the fold-out guest bed in our living room, then 2 beds in this one room, then we even bought a king sized bed for us all, and an expensive co-sleeping pillow….before realizing that the problem was not where or what bed.
The problem was this: 1. I cannot sleep through nursing. 2. Sufyan doesn’t position himself which meant I had to be awake enough to pull him to the breast. 3. I have bursitis in my hip so being on my side all night was very painful. 4. Bed sharing necessitates mom sleeping from the waist up without blankets…and I got really cold in our A/C and when I wore clothes I felt uncomfortable (not used to it). 5. I stayed vigilant and wakeful even when S was totally safe, fed, and comfortable. No one has more experience watching a baby sleep than me…
ETC ETC ETC….It was so hard I never want to repeat it.
So we had good reasons. BUT. My recent issue of Mothering magazine focuses on the incredible benefits of bed sharing for mom and baby. For bonding, for breast feeding relationship, for ease of night time parenting and feeding. They point to studies that say bed sharing moms report getting “enough” sleep more often than do non-co-sleepers. One father who bed shares and works for CPS in NYC writes that when bed sharing is ended before the child and parent are ready the “benefits are lost”. Well, I had been telling myself that at least we had those benefits secured for the first 7.5 months of his life (it felt like a sleepless eternity) but there went my last hope.
I feel sick about this. I feel so sad. I never got over having to have S out of our bed and out of our room (something I NEVER thought we’d do this early). I have missed him sleeping beside me, missed waking up with him so much that I actually had to grieve about it. Putting him in his own bed must be going against some kind of deep mother instinct in me because I have never been fully at peace with it.
I miss him. Is is too late? I am not crazy enough to think we could bed share again (witness my 7.5 months of sleep dep), but couldn’t his bed be in our room at least? Am I INSANE to think we could bring him back? Maybe we COULD bed share again. Maybe things have changed. Have we dodged a bullet by putting him in his own floor bed now so we don’t have to go through that struggle later…and would I be putting us squarely back in the path of that bullet by brining him back in?
Has anyone else struggled with this?

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7 thoughts on “dilemma

  1. I hope you feel better about this. I think you remind me of one of the reasons that I don’t read too many parenting article :-)I didn’t realize that co-sleeping meant that mom was supposed to be shirtless and on her side so much. That doesn’t sound very practical.Anyway, have some faith in yourself and the choices you and your family make. Having a well rested mama who has the energy to love, care for and bond with S MUST be better than having an exhausted mama! I’m no expert, but I think you are smart and loving, and I have no doubt that you are raising a healthy, happy S who gets all of the love and bonding that he needs. I can’t co-sleep with Clair either, and she pretty much decided that from the beginning. If S was waking every hour with co-sleeping, perhaps that was his way of letting you know that he was ready to be on his own (again, no expert here). He must be benefiting from more sleep as well.

  2. I think you probably know what I’ll say about this topic 🙂 I think Mothering magazine has an agenda just like any other publication out there. They are marketing to a certain demographic. Is it more innocuous than some? Absolutely. But still it’s helps to try to take it with a grain of salt. Also, I think often they are writing to a minority audience (i.e. breastfeeding, co sleeping, non vaccinating mothers), so their articles tend to be over the top at times. This makes sense because on the other end of the spectrum you have state health departments making co sleepers sound like negligent parents and people who breastfeed after a year seem like perverts. The whole reason many of these parenting topics are even common now is that people were tired of doctors telling them to do something that went against their parenting instincts. Unfortunately, I think at times the movement has become as dogmatic as the physicians on the other end.I’m just going to reiterate what Tammy B said, and encourage you to go with your instincts. You have one of the most inquisitive, sweet, trusting little children I have ever met, so you must be doing something right. You gave him 7.5 months next to you all night, despite how little sleep you were getting. That was a huge sacrifice and no matter what the article says it obviously benefitted both you and Sufyan’s bonding and will continue to do so. You are a wonderful, caring parent and whether you decide to bring him back into your bed or not, you’ll have made the best decision for you and your family. As for us, E slept in a crib for the first part of the night, then when she woke up for the first feeding I’d bring her back to bed, sometimes for the night, sometimes not. But I also had no problems falling asleep nursing, was used to pajamas, and I did use covers over my back (I don’t move once I fall asleep though). Despite our best efforts Dan and I both spent many a night passed out where ever we happened to be when she fell asleep…the floor, the rocking chair, the couch. Sleep the first year is just so hard.

  3. I like what Tammy and Amy have said and agree! I think you should do what feels right to you and Faris and Sufyan! Now that he is walking, you may want to put his bed in your room and then he can crawl in with you if he chooses? Let him tell you what is right for him 🙂 Thankfully my 17 year old doesn’t climb in with me anymore (jk LOL) but if Riane doesn’t feel well, she still will and she is 12 and Aiden at 9 still thinks that he is doing me a favor by waking up early every morning to sleep the last hour before school with me (he says he knows I need to snuggle – maybe he does too? ;)) Don’t beat yourself up over this! Every child is different, as is every parent. Co-sleeping can be great, but NOT if you aren’t actually getting any sleep! Believe me, he will give you many more things to worry about throughout his life, let this one go – he is healthy and happy so obviously you are doing the right thing!

  4. Ok, so I’m only saying more of the same, but I just wanted to let you know that I too read the same article and even managed to end up with as much anxiety over this issue, and Sam sleeps in our bed (and I use blankets — bad mom!)! I agree, you should do what your gut tells you and you’ll be ok. No matter which choice you make for sleeping arrangements, you should feel confident that you are an amazing mother and you provide Sufyan with everything he could possibly need.

  5. No matter what that article tells you, here is how Sufyan is CONTINUING to benefit from those 7.5 months you coslept:1. He nursed like crazy those nights with you and you can’t take away all the immunity support, nutrition, and bonding that went into his developing body.2. Sufyan feels so safe and secure that you are there for him (maybe because of those early months of co-sleeping) that rather than cry every morning, he is totally okay to just wake up in his own room and happily play by himself/look out his window.3. When he was brand new, sleeping next to you helped him regulate his breathing, body temperature, etc. So in effect, you ensured his well-being.4. Who knows- maybe that early co-sleeping and continuous nursing made him the incredibly smart, affectionate, sensitive baby he is today!You are doing the right thing by making sure you take care of yourself by making decisions/bed arrangements that allow you to get sleep at night. You’ll miss out on some happiness if you’re too tired and overextended to have the energy to really enjoy Sufyan. And if you sacrifice your own rest, HE will miss out on having a mama who’s alert, creative, engaging, funny, intelligent, and all your other characteristics that get dampened when your brain goes mush from no sleep. You are a wonderful, compassionate mom and like you said, you tried all the variations of co-sleeping that exist before moving S to his own room. You did what was best for him by being willing to branch out beyond your own nighttime aspirations. Sufyan is so lucky to have you as a mama!

  6. F Mothering Magazine for making you feel any less than a FANTASTIC mother with FANTASTIC instincts! As you know E and I could not co-sleep as it was co-wake rather. Sufyan is probably the most intelligent/nurtured/loved child I know. You have done what is the BEST for him. You took it day by day. It is each day that tells us what choices to make. You have taken paths that you set out to take, and paths that you were lead to by Sufyan. I will karate chop Mothering Magazine for making you feel anything but positive/proud/committed to your decisions.

  7. Ditto what Liz said. All you have to do is take one look at Sufyan to know that he is getting EVERYTHING he needs. He is perfect. Perfect! Revel in that knowledge. And throw away that damn magazine.

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