I entered a 250 word essay contest about co-sleeping on a whim the other day. Co-sleeping is one of those parenting things that when we were pregnant with Margeaux we thought we would "never do". We had the little bassinet all ready for that tiny little baby to sleep in all by herself the first night she was home. There was no way. There was no way! No way were either of us were going to sleep with the insanely heavy worry that she was three feet away, alone, and maybe not breathing, maybe hungry, maybe lonely, maybe scared. There was also no way this new mama was going to get up and schlep across the room to feed that tiny baby 4x a night. So we tucked her in with us and to this day (3.5 years) she sleeps with us. Of course, there wasn't even a thought to not include Brady in our bed when he was born. Instead we got a bigger bed and made room for him.
I have totally wanted that Humanity Family Sleeper, the essay prize, for years, by the way. 250 words isn't very long. I had high hopes to go into how co-sleeping made breastfeeding easier, how the breathing of mothers and babies are in sync when they co-sleep and how co-sleeping helped Margeaux adjust to being a big sister. Instead I wrote about how co-sleeping helps me as a working mom. Here's my essay:
There are four of us snuggled together, legs flopped over legs, tiny hands clutching sleepily at whomever is lying close by, the little one and I quietly nursing and rolling back over again. Our night rhythm it tangled together - a mini sing-along of breathing, snoring, stirring, changing positions, switching sides, moving limbs. Our family bed is comfortable, and safe, and it makes us all happy.
As a working parents, we have approximately 2.5 hours with our kids after work before they should be in bed. We push it, too often, and squeeze in 3 or 4 hours many nights and it still does not feel like enough. Sleeping together gives us more time. Co-sleeping is a conscious decision in our household and a big part of that decision is because it lets us connect with our children more. Sure, we have occasional rough nights where somebody wakes everybody up or we all have to deal with a diaper leak and new sheets at 2am but the good nights out-number those nights. We co-sleep because it gives us 8 extra hours of family time together a day.
There are so many reasons to co-sleep - scientific, social, political - but we do it because it's a huge part of our daily lives and we can't imagine our family any other way. We co-sleep because it works for us and we all love it. We sleep tangled and drooling, snoring and flopping, snuggled, warm, comfortable, content and together as a family.