It’s funny when I look back in retrospect — I was the one down with co-sleeping, not my wife. From what I know about other marriages, it sounds like it’s usually the other way around. And it’s not that I went into having our first child with the idea of co-sleeping. It happened organically, like so many things do when raising a child and you will do anything for sleep. And let me just say, our first baby, Tristan, was the world’s worst sleeper.
The only way he’d sleep for the first year or so was if someone sat up and held him in one arm like a football. No laying him down. No lying down with him. After almost a full year of splitting the night in half, both Mel and I getting pretty good at sleeping sitting up on the sofa, head resting against the bookshelf, allowing him to sleep in our bed sounded pretty amazing to me.
But Mel wasn’t having it.
Once he grew out of that whole sleeping while sitting up thing, he still didn’t sleep all that well in his own bed. We spent a lot of time in the night bouncing him, and then placing him gently back in the crib as if he were a live bomb, only for him to explode in a screaming, boogery fit.
I kept suggesting that he sleep in our bed, and Mel kept reminding me that we had agreed that we weren’t going to do that. But I insisted, and she was tired, and eventually, it just happened.
I will admit, it was wonderful to sleep horizontally again, but having him in bed with us was horrible for our marriage.
Naturally, the first thing to go was intimacy. Not that we didn’t have sex anymore; we did. But it seemed like getting all the gears to align, along with having a child sleeping in your bed added an additional level of complexity. Then there was the fact that we were sleeping better than sitting up on the sofa, we still weren’t sleeping all that great. Naturally, the kids refused to sleep traditionally, but rather at all the odd angles, kicking us in the night and spitting up in the bed.
To be honest, I don’t know how many BTU’s a baby is supposed to produce, but our child obviously emitted something between lava and the surface of the sun. I swear to you, having him in the bed made it so freaking hot that even if I could sleep with him ramming his little head into my back, the temperature was insane.
All of this loose sleeping only aggravated everything in our marriage, but the biggest argument we had was over allowing the child to sleep in our bed. As much as I hated it, I knew for a fact that our son wouldn’t sleep in his crib. Mel wanted to keep our bed ours, while I just wanted to get enough sleep to keep from failing out of college.
I was so very tired, and the thought of trying to fight him into his own bed felt like too much. Mel hated having him in bed with us, so we fought about it. We fought about it over dinner and while driving in the car, and via text. We fought about it in whispers as the child slept between us.
Sometimes we got him to sleep in his bed for a month or so, and it was wonderful. But then he’d get sick, or moody, or whatevery, and we’d both be too tired to keep fighting him in the night, and in the wee hours of the morning, we’d let him back in our bed so we could get some sleep, and suddenly it was like he owned the place again.
Each and every time this happened, Mel would give me this look that seemed to say, “You started this. I hope you’re proud of yourself.”
None of it was great for our marriage, and all of it was wonderful for our son.
I suppose the worst part of all of this was that once our son got a taste of sleeping in Mom and Dad’s bed, once he realized the warmth and comfort of it, getting him out didn’t take months — it took years.
I can’t remember exactly when he finally stopped trying to sleep in our bed, but I want to say he was three before he finally relented and succumbed to the fact that his bed was where he slept, and our bed was where we slept. Those sleepless three years of letting him sleep in our bed, and then fighting him to get out, weren’t good for our marriage. At all. I will say that with all my heart.
Naturally, everything worked out. Tristan’s 12 now, and I cannot seem to get him out of his own bed most days. He could sleep all day if given the opportunity. And the last thing I want this to be is a commentary on the morality or safety of co-sleeping, because it’s not. You do what works for you.
This is simply the reality of the impact co-sleeping had on a marriage — my marriage. If you choose to do it, realize that your baby will love it, but your marriage might just suffer (or maybe not) and getting them out of your bed will be a fight (or maybe not). Better to just be prepared.