Monday, September 29, 2014

My Experience With Co-Sleeping

   Recently, I had a friend who was asking about co-sleeping with her soon-to-be-born child, and if this was a good option or not. Immediately, she was bombarded by opinion after opinion, and many of those opinions where very forcefully expressed. Co-sleeping is, apparently, a hot topic for some mommies, and I remember the most rabid of those opinion-givers kept repeating that 1) the mother would crush or smother her baby in her sleep, and that 2) if the baby survived, she would continue sleeping with her mommy for the rest of her life, because why would she sleep alone if she was not forced to it?
  I was a co-sleeping mommy, so I want to share my experience with this, but before I do that I would like to state that I am not saying that every parent should co-sleep. Like many other things in life, there is no one way to parent; there are so many options and choices out there, and our jobs as parents are to find the best way of parenting for us as unique individuals, and one mother's way of being a mother to her child may be entirely unsuitable for another. In short, just because I successfully co-slept, that does not mean that I am rabidly announcing to the world that all mothers must co-sleep. Co-sleeping will just not be an option for some, and that is fine. 
   That being said, co-sleeping is neither a death sentence nor the death of all the child's independence. I started co-sleeping almost right away; I hadn't planned on co-sleeping but due to circumstance, it happened. And it worked. My daughter slept better, and while I didn't really sleep that well because my daughter often used me as a foot prop or a head rest, I was more at ease having her right there where I could quickly check on her. There are also things that you can buy now that help keep pillows and blankets off of your baby such as attachable bassinets and such, but I have to say, while I often woke with my daughter on top of me, I never woke on top of my daughter. If you sleep heavily, maybe you should factor that into your decision to co-sleep, but I never had an issue with crushing my infant. Never happened; I was always aware of her position.
   The other issue; getting your child to leave the bed, well, that should also be handled parent-by-parent. As a single mom, I let my daughter sleep in the bed with me until she didn't want to anymore. She stopped sleeping with me about the time she started kindergarten. At that time, she started sleeping in her own bed, but still shared a room with me due to the fact that we were living in an extended family home. Now in middle school, she has her own room and sleeps in her own room in her own bed. Obviously, I did not have any problem with her wanting to sleep with me while she was still in high school. I never had to use any force; she decided when she was ready, so the claim that a child will not leave your bed unless you force them I have found to be false. Also, she is not a dependent child; she very strongly asserts her independence, which sometimes does get her into trouble, being as she is a twelve year old girl and I am mom, therefor, I am boss. So the argument that your child will not learn to be independent is also something I have found to be false.
   To add to this, co-sleeping was the reason that one night, I was right there when she started choking, and I feel that my response was much quicker and maybe even saved her life, because if she had been in a different room, I do not know that I would have heard her distress. My daughter has never been a sickly child. She's, to this day, never suffered from an ear infection, and all of her illnesses have been mild, except for two instances. The first one was a bowel issue that took several years to clear up and required constant attention to her diet. The second though, was a really bad respiratory virus that I at first thought was a case of the common cold. But one night I woke up because I heard a strange noise next to my ear; my daughter. It was the smallest of sounds caused by her struggle to get breath. My daughter was choking. I flipped her over and patted her back, trying to dislodge whatever was in her throat, but nothing appeared to be in there. There had been no blanket in her face, but I could see that she was gagging and struggling with something; she was starting to turn purple. Out of shear desperation, I stuck my hand into her mouth, hoping that I could find whatever was in there an pull it out. I pulled out a mucus plug, that once out of her throat, expanded so that it looked to be the same size as her head. I was horrified, and she was truly choking, so she was not coughing or making a sound, because no air was coming in at all. What I had heard was the rustle of the blanket, and I am not sure that a baby monitor would have picked up that sound. I heard it, and I also felt it, and that is why I woke.
   So in conclusion, I think that you need to do whatever is best for you, but if you want to co-sleep, I have found that the arguments against co-sleeping have not had a true foundation. All of the main arguments against co-sleeping that I have heard; the crushing or suffocation of the baby, the lack of independence, and the child never wanting to leave the parent's bed, have not been issues I have dealt with. In fact, this image that I pulled off of the internet actually details what I found to be the true issue:
  This, at least, has been my experience with the issue. I am not a professional, but I do have a happy, healthy, independent twelve year old who has no issues sleeping in her own room in her own bed. There you have it; my side of the story. If you are considering co-sleeping, then I hope this helps. 

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