Reflections from an Accidental Co-Sleeper
Do you let your baby cry it out? I've judged you. Do you let your baby nurse on demand all day? I've judged you.
Do you let your baby sleep with you? I've judged you.
Do you bottle feed your baby formula? I've judged you.
Have I judged the decisions of pretty much every mom out there? Yep. Have I judged myself even more critically? Absolutely.
I've been reflecting on my ideas, decisions, attitudes, etc as a mom lately and I definitely don't like everything I have found. You see, I'm a very "black and white" person. Something is either good or bad, it can't be both. Something is either healthy or it's not, it can't be both. I'm either doing this right or wrong, it can't be both.
But then along came Baby Bear. The sweet, 7lb 1oz, baby girl who completely rocked my world and shattered every preconceived belief I had about parenting.
You see, prior to Baby Bear, I was "the baby-wise mom." Buttons and Bean were sleeping through the night by 12 weeks old, napped frequently during the day, and were on a feeding schedule that we ALL thrived on. I love schedules. I love predictability. I love sleep. It was just about perfect.
They were both happy & healthy baby girls. I never had to let them "cry it out" for very long. I would lay them down and they'd either fall asleep within a few minutes or cry for a few minutes before falling asleep. That was it. EASY.
I was supermom!
Oh God, you sure do have a sense of humour. Baby Bear was obviously gifted to me to humble me and get me out of the comfort zone that I had nestled into and was never going to leave.
So with a 4 year old and a 2 year old already... enter Baby Bear...
My sweet, happy, hilarious little girl who will only sleep at night if she's right next to me and who makes her own decision whether or not to nap on any given day. The only thing that's predictable is when she wants to eat. She's chosen to nurse at basically the same times every day since she was a few days old.
I thought I was a bad mom--that I had completely failed.
I couldn't let her "cry herself to sleep." And she wanted to eat so. many. times. at night! I was completely exhausted. She would always end up in bed with me for at least half the night because I was just too tired to get out of my bed to put her back in hers.
So I let her sleep, nestled in the crook of my arm. I let her nurse while I slept. I completely spoiled her... or so I believed.
She is now 8 months old and sleeps with me all night. And guess what? I LOVE IT. I love knowing she's sleeping peacefully beside me, breathing deeply with her sweet little lips puckered or her mouth wide open. I only need open my eyes to check that she's safe and sound. And when she stirs, she reaches out to me to make sure I'm still there. It's absolutely beautiful.
But as is common with moms, I felt guilty and selfish. Was I ruining her infancy by spoiling her? Was I setting us all up for failure for her future sleeping habits?
I came to this conclusion: I don't care. And I don't care what others think.
That was the "aha" moment for me when I realized "who the heck cares what I or any other mom is doing as long as it works for each of us!?"
We need sleep. We need peace. We need to feel confident in our parenting. We DO NOT need to feel judged.
I can be the mom who loves and accepts the way I have parented each of my kids. They are all different and all need different things from me.
So I've decided I will openly love co-sleeping with my sweet little Baby Bear while she's still young enough to sleep nestled beside me. This stage will pass by quickly and I would hate to spend the entire time wishing it were over and feeling guilty for enjoying the bond I am forming with her.
My oldest daughter, Buttons, starts Kindergarten in September...