*I took out my research/speculations/opinions on sleep training to avoid conflict. That isn’t the point of this post.
I originally started this post because I felt the need to explain myself. To justify myself. Society tells us that we are wrong for co sleeping. That it is dangerous. We are judged and told that we are creating bad habits. But as I did more research and connected with more like minded people, I can finally, almost a year later, tell my brain to be quiet and listen to my heart. I am in no way encouraging co sleeping or telling anyone they are wrong for not doing it, but I would love to bring a little more light to it. To lighten the pressure of getting our babies to sleep by themselves from such a young age, to tell new parents that they don’t HAVE TO sleep train. I could go on and on why I feel that sleeping training is wrong but it has become such a big part of our society, it saddens me. [insert rant here.]
For people that know me, they are probably chuckling right now because my fiance tells everyone that we sleep trained our daughter. I beg to differ. Yes, he did read up on it and yes we let her cry but it was only once. She started sleeping on her own when she was 4 months old. She refused to be rocked and needed her own space. Just like that. Obviously some nights were harder than others but when she was around 10 months old, i got selfish and wanted more time with her since I was pregnant with her brother. I started bringing her to our bed to get her to sleep and once she was asleep, we would transfer her into her crib where she stayed for the rest of the night. During this time I was able to sing to her, stroke her sweet face and rub those chubby hands for hours. Nora was never a cuddly baby and those were some of my most cherished memories.
I know we just reminded her she was able to fall asleep alone so there was no “training” involved but now that I have done more research, I feel so horribly guilty. There are so many other more gentler approaches we could have taken. I know my story isn’t like others, but I can’t imagine having to do that for weeks at a time when its something they can’t simply wrap their little heads around.
With Benjamin on the other hand, at the beginning we felt like we had no choice but to cosleep. With him waking every 30-60 mins all night, every night, I simply couldn’t focus. I had Nora to take care of during the day so I needed to get as much rest as possible. Don’t get me wrong, we tried every trick in the book to try and get him to sleep on his own. My fiance slept on the couch for the first few weeks until he felt more comfortable sleeping with us. We followed the Safe 7 which is the way to safely co sleep (no smoking, sober, breastfeeding, full term baby, baby on back, light pjs, safe surface- not too soft mattress, no extra pillows, etc.) which has been proven to give no higher risk of SIDS than if a baby was sleeping in a crib. A lot of people will disagree but we felt is to be okay.
When Benjamin started having breathing problems at 4 months old, it became even clearer that I needed to sleep next to him. Every breath was laboured and we didn’t know what could happen. With that came his diagnosis of Laryngomalacia which meant that even if we wanted to sleep train, we medically were not allowed to. He can’t cry for extended periods of time due to his airway already being compromised.
We recently had a check up to see how his condition is doing and my fiance kept saying he couldn’t wait for him to be in the clear so we could sleep train him to get him out of our bed. This broke my heart because I love sleeping with my baby. I love feeling his little body pressed up against mine, and the way he reaches out for me in the middle of the night. I love the sleepy wake up smiles, and knowing that we are his safe place. I love singing and holding and rocking him to sleep every night. Some nights are hard and yes I have wished he would go to sleep on his own a few times, but I know he will do it on his own time.
In efforts to change my fiances mind, I started doing research. [insert research/speculations/opinions here] I bombarded him with information on how its biologically normal to co sleep, and on how we are one of the few places in the world that even sleep train. I don’t know what clicked, but one night I asked him if he wanted me to put Benjamin in his crib (he will sometimes stay there for an hour if he’s really asleep) and he told me no. That we didn’t have to rush it. That he won’t be in our bed forever. And I cried. I actually made a difference. I poured my heart out and it worked. So now before bed every night, Benjamin gets a kiss and an “I love you Buddy,” before cuddling up to his Daddy that actually wants to sleep with him.
Yes, we still wake up sore some mornings and yes we are discussing how we can GENTLY transfer him to his own room but we are in no rush. And I think that is a beautiful thing. Benjamin is falling asleep with less and less intervention so I know he will be ready before much longer. His Daddy even suggested we transfer him onto a floor bed so that we can lay with him when need be. I still can’t believe that this worked, but it made me want to tell the world about it.
I now advocate safe bedsharing and/or gentle sleep methods whenever I can because I would love for a new mother to feel as confident and sure that for once, we actually made the right decision. Parenting is so so hard, why not relieve some of the pressure from society where we can? And also, what’s better than sleeping next to your precious babe? Every day they get a little older and oh how i wish i had more of these moments with my older baby too.
I in no way judge parents that choose to sleep train. I know that this is my story and what works for my family may not work for others. My only hope is that they know that there are other options and I hope that their hearts are telling them it’s the right thing to do too.