Friday, July 27, 2012

Co-Sleeping: Our Story (aka "I'm 33 weeks pregnant and we gave away the crib today.")

When I found out I was pregnant with Andrew, I happened to have a pretty awesome job. I babysat/tutored a wonderful little boy, and often times his adorable little sister while his parents worked.  I was blessed with this job because it worked pretty perfectly around my school schedule (I was in my last year of college) and the family was a delight to be around! 

Near the end of my pregnancy, the mom began giving me baby things, some new, some used. A changing table, sheets, a carseat, adorable cloth diapers and wipes, and then she gave me a crib! Talk about a blessing!

For new parents on a limited budget, we were humbled and so thankful for these gifts. We immediately began to work on setting up the "nursery" or "Andrew's room". Furniture didn't match but I didn't care, it was a room for *my baby*. I ordered new crib bedding and turned our small office of our two bedroom apartment into a baby room. My husband helped immensely, though a little bit sad to lose his "man cave". 

Before -- man cave/office

After - Andrew's room
We also received a pack-n-play from my parents that I planned to use the first few months. For some reason, I had it in my head that I would have a child who slept away from mommy and all night by the time he was a couple of months old. Not sure what I was thinking.

Andrew arrived on June 8th, 2009. We brought him home on June 10th, 2009. 

Our first night at home, I placed Andrew in the pack-n-play a few feet from his bed. I snuggled up to my husband and kissed him goodnight. And we fell asleep. For all of ten minutes.

The little whimpers woke me up instantly and I immediately picked up Andrew and nursed him. He fell back to sleep almost instantly. So, I put him in his pack-n-play. Crawled back into bed and went to sleep. For all of ten minutes.

I'm going to blame the fact that I was already sleep deprived from being in the hospital for two days as to why this cycle continued for the next two hours. Finally it dawned on me -- put him in bed with me. Clearly that was what he wanted. So I did. And we all went to sleep. For about four hours before Andrew needed to nurse again. Four amazing hours. And then after a 20 minute nursing session, we slept for another three hours.

I had planned to co-sleep from the beginning, but didn't plan to need to "all the time". Just when the baby wouldn't sleep. (Seriously, I thought I was going to have a baby that loved to sleep!) But the hospital staff had given me all this paperwork about it being dangerous and I had also read that if you are going to co-sleep it's best not to do it while you are extremely tired. I second guessed my instincts and opted to keep my baby away from me.

Over the next few weeks a "routine" formed. I'd nursed Andrew to sleep and put him in his pack-n-play next to the bed. Sometimes he'd sleep for an hour or two, sometimes just 10-15 minutes, but I tended to him immediately and nursed him back to sleep. I opted to use that time between Andrew going to bed and myself going to bed for my husband. No housework or chores just me and hubby -- enjoying marital bliss or just snuggled on the couch watching Conan. Sometimes I'd cook a special treat, or take a long hot shower to relax, but mostly it was a time for my husband and I to reconnect. If we were already in bed and sleeping, Andrew came to bed with us at his first waking. If we weren't, I gently nursed him back to sleep and placed him in his pack-n-play and returned to whatever I had been doing prior to him waking.

And thus we became a co-sleeping family.

Andrew's crib and crib bedding mostly ended up being a laundry basket and drying rack. Sometimes he slept there for naps, but mostly in our bed. And when he outgrew his pack-n-play around 15 months, he slept better on a pallet in our room, so we moved the crib mattress to our room and took the crib down.

Around 20 months, he got a twin bed. Though he mostly continued to sleep with us, he was excited to have his own bed. The only "person" he was willing to share it with was our dog, Bella.

First day with his bed -- he wanted to "make it" (make-it up) himself!

Andrew is three now and that's pretty much the same routine. Except his first waking (usually) isn't until around 6:30/7am. And he's now in a regular bed. And he wakes in the middle of the night to take himself to the bathroom. Sometimes he asks to sleep with us (or just me, since daddy is away for training till the end of August), but mostly he stays snuggled in his own bed. I welcome him into our bed anytime he asks, because I know our co-sleeping days are pretty much over and I'm going to miss it. I'm sure I'll even miss the little hands in my hair all night long.

Because I've witnessed the benefits, the joys and the sweet comforts of co-sleeping, there has been no doubt in my mind that we would co-sleep with baby number two.

Baby number two, fondly nicknamed "Reelo" by Andrew, is arriving in a few weeks. And today, I gave away our crib. When it was gifted to us, we were told to pass it on when we were done. So, I did just that.

I felt kind of weird at first. Hugely pregnant, talking with friends and saying "You know what, we don't need you want it?" but I quickly realized it's just not something we will need or use.

We co-sleep. I find that to be the safest, easiest and most effective way for myself to be a responsive, nurturing and gentle parent at night.

Are you a co-sleeping family? If so, what made you decide to co-sleep?

More wonderful links about co-sleeping! (FYI - Several links take you to blog carnivals dealing with the subject of co-sleeping.)


  1. Kym,

    We did the exact same thing, We had be gifted a crib by members of a church that I was working for when we were expecting Abbey. I used the crib for her, but, like you, ended up developing an open-family-bed policy, and realized that I really should have just embraced co-sleeping from the get-go. Abbey had some weigh gain issues and her sleeping with us (in hind sight) probably would have helped that issue, because she could nurse on demand. Anyway, I digress.

    When I was around 20 weeks pregnant, we were moving from the 2-bedroom unit in military housing into a 3-bedroom unit on the next street. And though we had stored Abbey's crib, we realized we really didn't know why we did . . . because we knew that with Joseph, we weren't going to ever use it. So, one day, a pregnant mama in her Navy uniform was talking with me while our toddlers played in our driveway with chalk. She was very pregnant. She noticed the crib and asked if we had purchased it here, because she had been looking for a crib, but couldn't find one at a decent price. Her family was on a strict budget, and cribs are expensive!

    I explained to her that we had been holding onto it but that we weren't going to be using it for our next baby. I explained our belief in sleep-sharing, and I offered the crib to her. She tried to set a price with me and I said - no really, you can just have it. I'm happy for you to have it. She was so happy and has been grateful for that action ever since. . . I'm glad that I could help out a fellow military family in need with a piece of baby furniture that I just didn't require!

    Joseph was in a co-sleeper til he started pulling up, and then we transitioned him to a twin mattress on the floor next to our king sized mattress (also on the floor, atop the box springs). When he was sleeping solidly with no late night feedings, and was big enough that he could let us know he needed me from another room, we put his mattress in the 3rd bedroom, and now that he is a big toddler, we set it up on a low bed frame.

    It's important to realize just how much "traditional" baby furniture really isn;t necessary. Thanks for writing!

  2. We didn't buy a crib before Canaan was born. We were promised a used one when he'd be about 4 months old. As far as I know it's still in my parents' basement never having been put together.

    I had set up the pack n play and intended on starting Canaan out there each night. The first night I laid him down, he screamed and I discovered he had peed out the top of his diaper and soaked the sheets. Not wanting to fool with a bedding change I put him in bed with us. The second night, same story. So we stopped trying.

    At almost 3 he is still in our bed most of the time. We often try to start him out on a mattress on our floor but he ends up in bed with us. We're both okay with this.

    We're getting a twin bed to snug up to our bed so we have enough room to keep co-sleeping when baby #2 joins us (sooner than later please!). We've also talked about having a family sleeping room for many years to come. It just seems right and safer. Even when our kids are older we've talked about having a sleeping suite of sorts so that all beds share a main door to the rest of the house but possibly have separate sleeping rooms for the privacy of older children.

  3. I've always had my babies with me cause I'm lazy lol. So much easier to pop a boob in their mouth during the night. By age 3 I try to get them in their own bed. Though Greens is 17 months and sleeps in her own bed with out a fight, so I take advantage of that! We still cuddle for naps.

  4. sorry, that last comment was not accurate, when I say in her own bed, I actually mean her brother's bed.. she won't sleep alone, but at bedtime when all the kids are getting into bed she will crawl into bed with her 6 year old brother and he snuggles her to sleep.

  5. hi kymberlee, i love your story. we're cosleepers too, with our own story. i've created a blog for cosleepers to put their positive experiences out there aand would love to be able to share this one. i've just started the blog so its a bit sparse but my aim is to eventually have it filled with good and educational stories. if you want to take a look it ANd if you'd like to share your story let me know (you can find me on the SHARE YOUR STORY section of the blog). Kind wishes, Abi