I have a confession: My son, King, is almost 5 months old now, and we’re still sleeping together.
A habit I am at once proud to share with fellow co-sleeping families but almost embarrassed and reluctant to disclose to most everyone else, I feel burdened to make the decision soon which way to let the pendulum swing. When I was pregnant with King, I didn’t think it was even possible for me to turn out to be one of those, you know, hippie and free-living mommas that would snuggle with her baby all night long in the same bed but somewhere along the way to Mommydom, that is exactly who I have become. I started with the best of intentions, I swear, but that first night in the hospital—my baby being every bit his cute and cuddly self in his bassinet next to me—why, I just couldn’t let him be all cold and lonesome, now could I?
Against the nurse’s caution on how sleeping with your baby could increase the risk of SIDS or suffocation, I sneaked little King into my narrow hospital bed and held him close to me for the rest of the night. I loved how I was able to nurse him without having to get out of bed for it and seeing his angelic face at peace and watching his chest gently rise and drop with every calm breath…why, it was love at first sleep.
When King and I were released from the hospital a day later, I had already made up my mind that co-sleeping was the right lifestyle for my family. Oh how Patrick tried and tried to put up a fight but all his reasons why King needed to be tucked away in a separate room at night were immediately quelled when I pointed out how Patrick never got around to selling his pool table to make room for a crib in the “nursery,” now did he?
So for the past five months, we’ve tucked baby King smack dab in the middle of our bed with us every night and Patrick and I would make soft cooing noises and twirl the little hair that King has on his head until he would quietly slip into slumber. I cherish our nighttime routine and even though Patrick may argue that certain “other” parts of our relationship have suffered because of our sleeping arrangement (Sex? What’s that?), co-sleeping has created a new level of intimacy for our whole family that has me advocating left and right the virtues of the family bed.
When Patrick’s dad came to visit us last weekend, however, he sung a different tune and wondered how on earth King will ever grow up to be independent and unspoiled if he continues to be wrapped up in my arms each night? While I truly believe in my choice to co-sleep, he does have me thinking that maybe King does need his own bed, his own space, a room to call his own…and better that we implement these changes now than later.
To his recommendation, I’ve set up a crib for King next to my bed and for the past couple of nights, it’s been this back and forth game I play with myself of putting King in there to sleep and when I would hear so much as one tiny baby cry (of utter discomfort! And abandonment!) I would quickly rescue him in one fell swoop and have him back in our bed—where he belongs—in no time. But then I would feel guilty, that maybe I am not letting him grow up or am in some way hampering his maturation into toddlerhood, and want to—but can’t—put him back into his crib to sleep.
I dread going to bed tonight since I don’t know which way the pendulum will swing.