Monday, May 17, 2010

A family that sleeps together...

Blame it on the safe sleep recommendations of the 1980s, but I LOVE tummy sleeping. About the fourth month of pregnancy, tummy sleeping became rather uncomfortable. So, I settled for my back. Just as I was getting used to that, informed me that it was no longer safe to sleep on my back. I decided to heed the warning and resigned myself to side sleeping. (By the ninth month, there was an intricate system of pillows and cranes to get me into a comfortable side sleeping position.)

I was looking forward to going back to tummy sleeping after Ely was born, but alas, I was a nursing mother. I convinced myself stick it out until my supply regulated. By the time I could comfortably go back to my belly; Ely had established herself as a bad sleeper. (At 9.5 months, we’ve had approximately 4 nights of uninterrupted sleep!)

When we got back from the States in January, “we”, well I (R didn’t see the need quite yet), decided that it was time to move Ely upstairs into her own bedroom. So, I moved upstairs to the extra room for a while (and enjoyed lots of tummy sleeping!), while she adjusted.

The night of February 26th, Ely spent her first night alone upstairs. I felt tremendously successful (and nervous) after almost two months of getting her comfortable in the room that we had painstakingly prepared for her while I was pregnant. That night, she woke up at 3:20 and I trudged upstairs to nurse, bummed that she hadn’t made it through the night. Fourteen minutes later, the earth shook. (I thank God that she woke up when she did and that I was upstairs with her.)

As you can imagine, Ely moved back downstairs (since I wasn’t going upstairs!) to her Pack n Play. With the crazy nighttime temblors that continued for weeks, even that proved to be too far away from us. And so, she slept in the middle. There she remains months after the earthquake.

Each night, she is put to bed in her Pack n Play. At her first waking, she moves into the middle. On nights that she doesn’t wake up, both R and I find it hard to fall asleep not because we’re scared of temblors, rather because we LOVE sleeping with her. R especially likes it since he often leaves for work before she wakes up and comes home after she’s in bed. It’s a special time for them to snuggle and reconnect.

R has always been open to the idea of bed sharing on the premise that there are many people in this country and around the world who cannot afford a crib. (I haven’t seen any studies, but I think it’s safe to assume that those children don’t grow up to be overly dependent or psychopaths just because they snuggled their parents at night.) I, on the other hand, was worried that it would be detrimental to our marriage. It took the scariest thing I’ve ever experienced to open me up to the idea. Looking back, I wish we’d started earlier.

R was right; sharing our bed with Ely has not taken a toll on our marriage. If anything it has made us feel like more of a parenting “team”. We love to snuggle our sweet baby between us. Also, since she is such a lousy sleeper, we get much better sleep than we would otherwise. Now, when she wakes up to nurse, I can just roll over and take care of business. I don’t even have to really wake up.

The only drawback to bed sharing is… you guessed it: no tummy sleeping! The three of us share a queen sized bed and since our little munchkin sleeps like she’s being crucified, that puts both R and I on our sides. But, in the scheme of things, that’s okay with us.

You know that Faith Hill song that goes, "It's not right. It's not fair. What you're missing over there"? Last night, I was the last to fall asleep. R and Ely were snuggled together. The words to that song popped into my head. I wished R could feel how very much I loved them at that moment. Watching the two people you love most in the world snuggled together, blissfully unaware that you're watching them sleep brings indescribable warmth to one's heart.

Thank you, earthquake, for helping me get over myself and relish these precious moments, even if it means I can’t sleep on my tummy.


  1. Yay for bed-sharing! This post describes exactly how I feel about it. It does seem like it could place a strain on a marriage, but like you, I feel that it's done the exact opposite for us. I love, love, love weekend mornings when we're all 3 awake just laying in bed. It's so sweet. I do know it's not for everyone, and I also know we won't do it forever, but it works for us now. Oh, and laying down and nursing is the best, isn't it? So much easier than fully waking up, truding upstairs, then trying to fall back asleep afterwards.

  2. I totally agree! With this being the third baby I swore that she would sleep in her crib from day one, that I wouldn't spoil her like I did the other two. I actually talked myself into thinking I would sleep better with her in her crib. I was mistaken. The fear of her not waking up and the way I missed having her in my arms was too much. Miss Ava hasn't slept in her crib not one night and I wouldn't change that for the world. I love knowing that she is so confident that I'm there for her that she doesn't even bother to open her eyes to start nursing. I love being the first one she sees in the morning and being the first one she smiles at. I love being the first one to kiss and snuggle with her. I wouldn't trade any of it...not even for a full comfortable night's sleep.

  3. I totally love the idea of bed sharing but have a few problems: my daugher moves so much in her sleep that it prevents me from sleeping well and she goes to bed much earlier than us and I am afraid she would roll out of the bed. How do you deal with these issues?

  4. Joanna, We talked a little about it on Wednesday, but I got lucky, Elisa literally sleeps like she's been crucified: arms out straight and still as a rock. So, we don't have to worry about her keeping us up or rolling out of bed. (She's between us. So, that helps too!)