I was so happy climbing into bed the first night after setting up Rory’ s co-sleeping space. I was excited about being so close to my tiny new baby, being able to see him and smell him, and snuggle in all cosy in a way that I hadn’t done before. They call it ‘co-sleeping’, although ‘co-half awake all night’ seems to be more accurate.
We started co-sleeping as a coping mechanism, (having an older child that doesn’t sleep too well) but I have grown to enjoy it more than I thought I would, which came as a surprise for someone who likes her own space. Don’t get me wrong, the nights where Rory just wants to be attached to me all night can get very frustrating, but then, so did the nights when Arlo did this. Except then I had to actually get out of my nice warm bed on top of everything else.
I have been charting Rory’s sleep for Kiddicare. To some, this will look horrific (and to those people, I would like to competitively remind you of Arlo’s 1-3 wakings per night, not documented on this sheet), whilst to other people this will look like a decent night’s sleep. To us? It’s OK.
We have our ways of coping, and for the most part, it all works. It works because there’s two of us, Sam deals with Arlo, I deal with Rory (I have no idea how I will get on during Sam’s upcoming two weeks away, gulp). It works because I don’t go to bed later than 10pm. It works because I exist on a horrible diet of sugar and carb-heavy food to see me through. It works because I barely register the wake ups. The last one at around 4.30 or 5am is the only one that gets a bit hairy sometimes -Rory is trickier to settle at this point, and Arlo usually wakes just as I’ve managed to settle Rory successfully and drift back off myself, meaning I’ve effectively been awake since 5am most days.
What has surprised me the most about charting our sleep and moods is the amount of times I’ve put my mood as “fine”, “had energy”, etc. A standard night’s sleep is 4 wake ups after I’ve come to bed at around 10pm. After a night like this, it seems that I won’t feel tired the next day. The bad nights are the odd occurrences where Rory doesn’t want to settle back to sleep via the boob method and so I actually have to get up with him, and the times where he is randomly awake for an hour or two during the night. In a month of charting, I haven’t felt tiredness at all on 80% of the days. I really wasn’t expecting that, because I know my children aren’t model sleepers, far from it.
I’ve made no effort whatsoever to settle Rory without feeding him (it doesn’t really work when you are co-sleeping as I find I just automatically roll over to feed him without really thinking or really waking myself), and as a result I do sometimes wonder whether his frequent night-wakings are a an effect of co-sleeping, and perhaps he’d be sleeping much better if we’d taken a different approach. But it really would be impossible to tell. And then I remember that Arlo, (who never wanted to co-sleep, incidentally) was waking three or four times a night at the same age too. All I know is that I now have two children, neither of whom sleep brilliantly, and yet, in general, I’m a lot less tired than in the baby/young toddler days with Arlo.
Kiddicare also provided us with a book, Baby Sleeping Trust techniques – Alternatives to Controlled Crying. I’ll be honest, I haven’t read the book, because any book on baby sleep has the tendency to make me suddenly click into ‘worrying Chloe’ mode and I start thinking “We NEED to be doing this now, he SHOULDN’T be doing this any more”, etc. I’m not dismissing the book, it will sit on my shelf until a time when I’m ready to start thinking about helping Rory to sleep better. If I wasn’t so lazy, sleep techniques would be an option, but as I’ve said before, for now, I’m happiest just going with the flow – accepting the bad nights and getting on with the OK nights. It won’t last forever. If I were to search my soul and try to find ‘the key’ to what’s most important to me regarding our night times – more sleep or an easy life? Hand over heart, I know I will always go with the boob first, even if I know I ‘should’ be doing other, less lazy things to help us get more sleep in the long run. I’m not strong-willed enough, and it’s my parenting method. When I want to stop feeding at night, or reduce down, I do the only thing that makes sense and send in the one who doesn’t have the boobs. And that is what we will do when the time is right.
The book does have a chapter on co-sleeping, which I did read. But judging by the length of the chapter, I got the feeling that the author might possibly have felt the same as I do – that it’s a bit redundant to attempt to reduce milk intake at night whilst co-sleeping. The reason I am co-sleeping is so I can feed on demand.
In a way, co-sleeping is inconvenient for our family. Sam often gets a better night’s sleep on the sofa than he does in our room. But then, having an insomniac three-year old is also inconvenient for our family. Having children will always be inconvenient to sleep. As I said earlier, at the moment we are tag-teaming it with the children, Sam will often come back into our room after spending an hour with Arlo, unable to switch off again because he is disturbed by Rory fussing and my efforts to settle him. Sometimes, we will sleep the whole night in separate rooms, only to go our separate ways during the day, like proper ships in the night.
I am also not sure about how I will feel about having a crawling/walking baby climbing all over me whilst I’m trying to sleep. Or having a snotty, coldy, sick-buggy child right next to my face. And Rory is becoming increasingly harder to settle with the simple ‘roll over and give him a boob’ trick. I do think we are nearing the point where a transition to his own cot could be a good thing. As to when we start this transition – timing is key. Rory is currently going through the sleep regression at nine months, so we definitely need to wait until that is over. And I’d be mad to consider attempting any kind of night weaning / sleep training before my solo-parenting fortnight is over (co-sleeping will be my survival). But we also have a night away from the children in May for which I want Rory to be better prepared. I want to minimise chances of Rory being distressed, of his poor grandparents getting an appalling night’s sleep, and of me having to get up during the night to express during my first ever opportunity of a child-free night’s sleep. It will also be much easier to cope with the extra sleep deprivation during the lighter months. So I think the beginning of May might be a good time to see how Rory fares in his own cot, and possibly in Arlo’s room.
If anyone has made the transition from co-sleeping to own cot, (and especially if it was a transition into a sibling’s room), I’d love to hear how it went / how you attempted it.
I have been given a Kiddicare voucher in return for participating in the #kiddicaresleep project.