Friday, January 29, 2010

The Family Bed

Putting my deepest darkest secret in writing is a bit scary. Before I had kids I wasn't one of those people that judged other parents or said I'll never do this or that. I was always of the school that you don't know what you'll do or how you'll raise a child until you are in the middle of it. Even now with 2 kids I still am flying by the seat of my pants. BUT....I knew of someone who had their baby sleeping in their bed. He was 8 months old and still sleeping in their bed every night. I said to my husband, my sister, and maybe a few others. "I will NEVER let my kid sleep in our bed." Its the one NEVER I used. Do you think I cursed myself? Do you think my judgment of another made my children have a stronger need to sleep within 6 inches of my face every night?

I have a confession to make. Since Jake was about 7 days old I have had a child in bed with me for at least a portion of the night EVERY NIGHT (ok, maybe one or two nights Jake slept through the night in his crib, but really, only one or two). I remember the moment it happened. Jake had his days and nights mixed up. He wouldn't sleep at night unless he was being held. The second you set him in his crib he would wake up crying. Often times even when you were holding him he was crying. Mike and I were trading nights every other one, but after hours of crying each night, we had to start trading every other hour because we were both so exhausted and frustrated.
After about 3 nights of this I remember Mike yelling into Jake's room...."just bring him into bed."

"NO" I yelled back. "We can't start down that road."

"Just do it, we're going to go crazy if we don't get some sleep."

And so reluctantly I brought Jake into bed and we all went to sleep. For some reason Jake would sleep with me spooning him. He loved when our faces were right next to each other breathing deeply. He feel asleep instantly. Thus beginning his love affair with pillows, snuggling, and my bed. During the first year of his life he would fall asleep in my bed and then I would move him into the crib. Without a doubt he would always wake up anytime between 11 and 2am screaming. Instead of me taking the time to work this problem out, we brought him into our bed and he would go back to sleep. Making the world a better place for all of us. We tried to remedy the situation several times. We got to the point were we pulled the mattress out of the crib and fluffed it up with comforters and pillows for him and he slept on the floor for a few months. But by 2am I would have this little guy walking into my room and crawling into bed. Finally after a year I just accepted this lifestyle and know he will be in my bed at some point during the night.

Enter Sam. I WASN'T going to make the same mistake twice. This time would be different. Sam is going to LOVE his crib. The first night in the hospital he woke up crying. What did I do? Pulled him into my bed and he went right back to sleep. He went 5 hours without feedings the first 2 nights because of this little trick. So I told myself. Just get through the first 2 weeks. I don't care were he sleeps during this time. (of course it was my bed). He spent a little time in the crib, a little time in the play pen next to my bed, and a lot of time next to me.

So we're coming up on 2 months old now. For the last 2 months we've had all 4 of us in bed...yes all 4 of us. Doesn't make for the best night sleep for me every night, but for the most part its been ok. But I've been thinking this has to stop. I've been reading about babywise, and tricks to get your baby to go longer between night feedings etc etc. Determined to change this up. Setting goals to have my bed back, kid free by the end of the year.

I was going to start last night, but Sam has a cold, do I really want him screaming it out in his crib and making his nose that much more stuffy? So I put it off.

Tonight I'm going to start with Sam. I'm laying in bed with Jake. Mike has already gone to sleep, Sam is half way there. I lay down in between Jake and Sam. Sam is a little squirmy as he is trying to fall asleep. And then he does the cutest sweetest little thing. He puts his arm up on me. As if he is trying to spoon me. Arm around me, hold my finger in his little hand. I wished the lights had been on and I had a camera on me. It was so sweet. As if he knew I was going to throw him into the crib tonight and he's trying to put the knife in my heart and make it that much harder. I'm cursed I tell you. They may be sleeping with me til their 10. Does anyone know if you can special order a bed bigger then a king?

I haven't given up yet. I did put Sam in his crib so I could come blog about it. We'll see how long he lasts in there tonight.

And for all those worried about my marriage and this family bed situation effects the marriage...don't worry. We're creative. Too much info I know.

I'm off to check on Sam. Is it weird when he's in his crib I feel like I have to check on him constantly? I need help I know....


Kelly said...

Oh Abby, I'm sorry...4 is a crowd! I think it's the hardest thing you'll to do is to let your baby cry themselves to sleep. I read "Happy sleep habits, healthy child" or something like that but it really helped me. Know that they aren't going to hurt themselves by crying themselves to sleep and that it's the best for everyone. Teaching them to self soothe is so important and I think you've got to start before they can talk back. It was be REALLY hard for a few weeks but then it will get better. Talon loves his crib (and Binky and Blanket) and can't and won't sleep in our bed. I don't know if it's just him and he wants his own space or if it's because we had a queen bed and I was too scared I would roll on him and knew I couldn't sleep with him there. Good luck and let me know if you need someone to talk to! Miss ya!

whit said...

I don't have kids even though i've had labor pains for about a year, but i think you're doing a good job..just take babysteps. It will get better.

marta said...

oh ab,
i loved this post! i honestly think you'll feel better about this if you google 'benefits of the family bed'.. you're probably helping them develop in genius ways. however, since benji's parents own a queen bed he got no such treatment.

i read that Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Child book too and liked it's easy to follow methods. i liked it a lot more than Baby Wise. i read a bunch of books on the sleeping subject and they all boiled down to the same few ingredients; it's gonna take a week or so and you have to be consistent. and when they're sick, all bets are off. so just cuddle a lot. if you want to borrow my book, let me know.

good luck, don't doubt yourself!! everyone is going through some sort of issue with their kids; you're a good mama.

polly said...

you're great, just do whatever you think is best and what gets you through the day. everything seems to work out sooner or later. mothers and dads just need to survive.

Travelin'Oma said...

I always think about how they did things in the olden days. In the olden days everybody probably slept in a family bed just to stay warm. It all works out.

I have noticed that every time I pass judgement on somebody for something, I end up with their same predicament. I'm learning to never say never.

Natalie said...

Love this post. I just stumbled across your blog today and I completely resonate with your predicament. There are people who feel strongly that you need to lay down the law and form correct habits. You probably should. Out of necessity, I've been a pretty laid back parent, and I'm pretty bad at getting my kids to sleep in their own cribs, especially for the first year. I'll bring my baby into bed with me to eat, then I'll fall asleep and 4 hours later, there he still it. BUT, my 3 and 4 year olds do now sleep in their own beds without complaint, and my 2 year old is getting better=) I totally agree with Polly's comment. Do what you gotta do and don't beat yourself up about it. It will all work out.