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Saturday, 19 October 2019
 
 
Co-Sleeping Worries Print
During our pre-adoptive parenting classes when our social worker suggested that we plan to have our child sleep in his own bed soon after arrival, I was secretly relieved. Although I’d slept for short periods of time with my newborns for nursing purposes, I did not sleep well during that time and did not want to start the whole “family bed” thing.

When my six-month-old son arrived home, he made the decision even easier. When we tried to co-sleep with him in the first few nights home (in an effort to mimic the conditions he’d slept in with his foster parents), he’d startle and awaken every 30 minutes or less. With our caseworker’s encouragement, we moved him to his own bed and allowed him to “cry it out” for short periods of time. Within a few weeks he was sleeping great and the threat of co-sleeping was long behind me.

Or so I thought.

Seventeen months, several therapy sessions and dozens of night terrors later, we were game to try again. For six weeks both of us struggled to learn how to co-sleep--I, to learn how to remain unconscious enough through nightmares & night terrors & flailing arms and legs that I could function the next day; and he, to learn how to trust me enough to make it through the night. Even during our early days of co-not-sleeping, I had fleeting thoughts of worry. How will I ever get this child out of my bed? He was already almost two. What was I doing, trying to start a family bed at this late stage? Quizzical looks from friends and family let me know that I wasn’t the only one with this question. But desperation leads one to uncharted waters; in this case, I just hoped I wouldn’t still be sleeping with the fish when he was 18.

It took a while for both of us. But there came a day when I could nod off to sleep with a small warm body pressed against my side, his toddler breath against my neck. Over time, I found myself looking forward to nights. His body began to trust me, seeking me for comfort and matching my breathing patterns, even as he slept. The nightmares and night terrors grew less and less frequent until they diminished altogether. I’d sometimes awaken in the middle of the night, surprised to find him half lying on my chest, virtually hugging me in his sleep.

After a year or so, he “graduated” to a toddler bed nestled against my side of the bed. I missed the baby breath on my neck, but would still sometimes awaken to find that he had slid into bed next to me, his arm again curled around me, his body conformed to mine. Yet, over time, this happened less and less. No more night terrors. No nightmares. No awakenings. Only the sound of deep, delightful breathing. Then I had new thoughts. How will I ever allow this child to leave my side?

I half-heartedly participated in the planning. We bought a bunk bed. My older son and my 3-year-old sleeping companion crawled all over it, making plans for “their room.” They scooted into bed at 8 p.m. that night, thrilled to be “bunk buddies.” At 10 p.m. my older son wandered out. “Help! He won’t go to sleep!” Once again, I was secretly thrilled. I got my little bundle and carried him off to the toddler bed, where once again I got to hear the rise and fall of his baby breath.

The day before my son’s 4th birthday, the boys begged to try it again. I rocked my little guy, but instead of tucking him in beside me, I carried him across the hall to big brother’s room. Then, I waited for big brother to come wandering out. No one came.

I waited.

And waited.

Finally, curiosity sent me to their room. All was silent, except for the rise and fall of big boy breath. Two big boys. Healthy, happy, trusting boys.

I have only one worry left. How will I ever sleep without him?

Comments
I have been there!
Written by Camelia on 2007-11-18 18:30:24
Our four-year old was slepping in her big-girl bed for 2 years in 2005. I had a misscarriage, broken foot and thyroid problems whithin months of each other. All of a sudden night-time turned into fight-time with lots of reasons why she was not sleepy: tummyache, hunger, thirst... 
 
Her bedtime moved from 8 to 10 or eleven and I ended up sleeping with her part of the night and in my own bed the rest of the night with no real rest. 
 
The day-time routine flew out the window and my formerly independent girl was stamped to my body for most of her waking hours. 
 
Then, one night my husband asked me to bring her in our bed in the hope that we'll all get some needed rest. 
 
She is six and still happily sleeping with us in a bed made from a queen and a twin attached to each other. She is happy and independent. And we are all getting a good night sleep.

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