If you had told me a year ago that I would be a proponent for co-sleeping, I would have laughed. I had no reason to know what co-sleeping was, much less understand its value. But now, ten months since the turtle's birth, it has become a fixture in our lives.
Now I have to be honest. I write this, while my little guy is resting peacefully in his crib. Sure, there are some that might disagree, but I happen to think that a crib is a safe, comfortable place for a baby to sleep. And in fact, the turtle spends the majority of his naps and a fair number of nights there. But there are other nights, where the turtle and I fall asleep side by side and wake up hours later in the same position. I don't know that co-sleeping is right for every family, but these are the reasons it works for mine.
1) I'm able to maintain a healthy milk supply: Anyone who has been reading my blog over the last year is very aware of the anxieties and challenges I have had to tackle as a nursing mom. Given my medical history, I fully expected to be unable to breastfeed. So, sitting in the doctor's office with my then 3 day old son and seeing the first sign of milk was a huge triumph. Even so, my supply has been less than stellar. So, night nursing is essential and contributes to my respectable milk levels. And co-sleeping simplifies night-nursing. I don't have do the "nursery, crib, bed, nursery, crib, bed" dance.
2) We're all getting plenty of sleep: This isn't to say I'm not tired. Of course, I have days where I'm trapped in a bit of a fog, but I can honestly say that whatever exhaustion I do have is more from long days at work than sleepless nights. And, in fact, I have had very few days where I have felt sleep-deprived. This blows people away. They act as if I have somehow circumvented new parent hazing. But the minute Chris and I decided that we were okay co-sleeping, was the day we realized that we could parent, work, play, write, act, dream, save and socialize without running ourselves ragged. If the turtle's having a tough night, rather than either a) sleep despite his cries or b) get up and down in an effort to comfort him; we just bring him to bed, and as a result we all get a good night's rest.
3) The turtle and I get a chance to re-boot: Sometimes I wish I were the stay-at-home parent. This isn't to say I don't like my job, because I do. And I never imagined I would want to be anything but a career-woman. But I'm 35 years old, I've accomplished a great deal professionally, and if I had my druthers, I would just stop time for the next few years and do nothing but watch my little one grow. But that's not realistic. Not only is it not realistic financially, but it wouldn't make a lot of career sense. So, rather than sitting around feeling sorry for myself all the time (because let's admit it, I do feel sorry for myself some of the time), I try to take advantage of what precious moments I do have with my son. And, since most of this time is in the evening, he and I will often spend hours winding down, nursing, singing and reading stories until we're both groggy and ready for bed so we just snuggle up and fall asleep. It's my opportunity to clear away all of the other things that are weighing heavy on my mind and focus all of my attention on my son. It's a chance to log-off and re-boot.
Sure there are plenty of critics, but in my short few months as a parent I can only say this, "You do what works."