I have been co-sleeping since the wee one sprung forth from me. Even when the nurses bitched about it, I co-slept (and then lied). In retrospect, I think they KNEW I was lying.
It started with being moved from the delivery room to my shared-recovery room. I had a foot or two on either side of my bed before the curtain and the other inhabitant’s bed space. A complete stranger lay with-in arms reach of me. The nurses waddled me in there and said- Put the baby back in his bucket before you go to sleep.
For me, this is un-natural. For one, this was the first time I’ve not had another adult with me to hand me the baby. Your body gets sore after the effects of the epidural (yes, I’m one of those moms) and adrenaline wear off. The idea of shuffling around to get the baby, yeah, not fun. For another, I carried this baby in my stomach for nine months. He was breach up until the last week or so. He slept wrapped in the warmth of my body, listening to the sound of my heart.
For me, it seemed cruel to take him from his warm and safe environment and banish him to four cold, plastic walls. So, I held him in my arms to sleep. And when the nurses came in, I used my quick-wake voice to make it seem like I wasn’t sleeping. I do think, though, that at some point they came in and saw us sleeping together him curled up in my arms, because those very few plastic formula bottles used in those early moments of life disappeared (I’m assuming that they came and threw them away since they’re only good for an hour after opening, and the baby would only take half an ounce at a time).
I only tolerated the hospital no-co-sleep law for 24 hours (we were released within 24 hours of the wee one’s birth).
At home, it was a given. The baby slept in my arms. Not to be thought of as rocking, cradling hold, but pressed against my body with my arm encircling him. Everyone says that it looks uncomfortable, but really, it’s wonderful. I am CERTAIN I wouldn’t have gotten as much sleep or have been as successful at breast feeding if he had been in a crib or playpen.
The baby is on the eve of ten months old already. I stare at him, shaking his fist in the air and kicking his legs around cheering ‘YAY’ (his fourth word) thinking, ‘Oh my gosh, he’s gotten so big. When did that happen?’
And still, we co-sleep. All of the other kids have been out of my bed (and my arms) by 6 weeks old. The me of now wants to run to the me of then and shake her. I missed out on so much. Sure, sometimes the baby gets grabby-pinchy and I have a few pinch-shaped bruises on my arm and stomach, but for the most part it’s such a wonderful experience. Any of his needs that arise in the middle of the night, I can address them without either of us having to fully wake up.
He used to solidly nurse from the time we went to sleep until we woke up. Now, he gets a little thirsty around 3AM and is fine with being popped off when he stops drinking.
He’s getting bigger, though, and up until recently, I would flip him over me when I’d roll over. I doubt that his dad would ever roll over on him, but to be certain, I’d have him tucked between my arm and body. I’m just not one who can just sleep on one side and stay there. I move around a lot. Before, I’d worry about rolling towards the inside of the bed and he’d fall off the bed.
I’ll admit, I’m not perfect. He’s fallen off before (usually under his own power trying to follow me out of bed). Luckily, I usually am a bit of a slob and there was a pile of laundry on the floor by my side of the bed. Soft landing. We used to have the crib with the short side pressed up against my side of the bed. I learned quickly to stuff the gap full of pillows when he got stuck (he’s kind of wide) and I worried he’d kill himself.
To which we come full circle to Side-car Sally. In effort to give us more room in bed, we took the crib side off and secured it to our bed. Our bed is perfect height with the highest setting on the crib, and some adjustments, we have a side-car.
This is what worked for us.
We took the broad side of our drop-rail crib off (yes, I’m well aware of the dangers of a drop-side crib). We bungee-corded the side closes to the head of the bed, making the crib fit securely against our bed. On the foot of the crib, we used one of my husband’s spare military belts. These things are strong and tight-holding. They’re meant to be make-shift tourniquets. This crib isn’t going anywhere.
We moved the crib mattress up against my mattress to have a seamless transition. There is a gap between the mattress and the crib (which is dangerous). Personally, if I was at home, I’d go to a store and buy a foam insert to make it into an almost ‘couch-like’ arrangement. Since we’re limited, I decided to make due. I took the crib bumpers and folded them up into the space and kept shoving until they were tight, then put a blanket around it.
This is not safe, I will point this out, especially for high-risk for SIDS babies. If not done right, it could cause entrapment, or suffocation, but I feel confident in what I’ve done. It’s packed tight…
Everyone must decide for themselves what they’d do to fill the gap. This is what worked for us.