I have the typical parenting story of doing everything by the book (literally!) with my firstborn and just kinda wingin’ it with the second child.
With Sienna, I breastfed for a longer amount of time, I potty-trained her earlier, she tried sweets when she was older, and I did the whole sleep-training process with her. During that process, I was very regimented in doing all the steps and tips that several books instructed. For instance, I gave her a soothing bath and massage before bed, played the white noise and let her cry it out in between and throughout the night.
As a first-time mami, it was difficult hearing her cry for such long periods of time, but after a few days, the tears stopped and suddenly there were peaceful nights of sleep in my home. I felt a great sense of accomplishment to be able to have Sienna go to bed and off to sleep by herself. As an adult, it was refreshing to know that after 8 p.m., I could just chill and, as a wife, my hubby and I can have some “alone” time, which is much-needed when you have kids.
We were off to a good start, but once Roman was born, somehow, we took a wrong turn, because today both Sienna and Roman are in my bed every night.
Every kid is different, and when I think back as to how we got to this co-sleeping place, I think it was a combination of Roman being a less compliant and pushing boundaries way more than Sienna did as well as us not putting in that extra effort that you hear of when it comes to the second kid.
If Sienna would happen to wake up in the middle of night wanting to come to my bed, I can easily get her to go back to her bed because she is one of those kids that listen to her parents. Roman, on the other hand, doesn’t take no for an answer, so when he began getting out of his bed to come to mine, it was World War III to get him back into his bed and, frankly, I was exhausted and didn’t want to deal, so he would win snuggling up in between my hubby and me in bed.
The routine became that both Sienna and Roman would go to bed, and in the middle of night, if Sienna woke up, I’d easily get her back in her room. But when Roman woke up, he came into my bed, making Sienna realize that Roman had won that fight and inspiring her to begin fighting, too. Knowing that I would allow Roman in bed, I felt bad and that it wasn’t fair that she got the short end of the stick because she was being a good girl, so I started allowing both of them to come in the middle of night. But, even though they were both in my bed, I still held on to the fact that they would come in the early morning, but as time has passed they’ve continued to get out of bed earlier and earlier to the point that, now, they sometimes wake up to come to my bed before I have even gone to bed.
I never thought co-sleeping was a good idea or for me, but I’ve gotten to the point where I’ve accepted it and, have a love-hate relationship with the lifestyle. It’s the sweetest feeling to cuddle up with your children and have them feel safe because they feel you there. If Sienna has a bad dream, I am right there to console her, and she’ll even say, while in her sleep, “I love you, mami.” They feel my warmth and I theirs, and it can be a very intimate moment at the end of a crazy busy day. However, I struggle with the fear of not always being there. If something were to happen to me, it would be 10 times harder for them to overcome my loss because they don’t know how to sleep without me and self-soothe. When I think of this, I feel guilt for, hypothetically, allowing them to be put in a worse position if, god forbid, something would happen to me, so I say to myself they have to learn to sleep by themselves. But then they come to my bed, and my motherly instincts want to comfort them.
It’s no surprise that it’s also not good for your marriage. Quality time with your partner after having kids takes time and effort as it is, and once you co-sleep, it just gets more challenging. My hubby, while I think he has accepted the co-sleeping thing, still reminds me that we must work at getting them back into their beds, which, at times, I agree, but I then hear other parents tell me how quickly they grow up and, in a flash, they won’t want to sleep, cuddle or sometimes even speak with you anymore, and when I think of that, I convince myself that these precious moments we have with them aren’t forever, so why not enjoy it while it lasts?
Then I get kicked in the face with one of their legs and wake up with a sore neck.