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Old 07-15-2005, 05:18 AM   #1
Rose Garden
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Default A Letter to New, Co-sleeping Parents

A Letter to New, Co-sleeping Parents

We are a co-sleeping family. Our sleep-sharing son is five years old, which probably sounds a little out there to you at this moment since your babe is still so wee. At least I know that's what my reaction (and my husbands) was like at that time in our parenting "career". You just can't imagine!

You are very likely thoroughly enjoying the sweet blessings of a family bed. And you may also be experiencing some doubts and questionings about exactly how long your baby is going to occupy your bed. I promise you, your feelings and concerns are perfectly normal. (Absolute devotion, curiosity/wondering, wishing you could sleep like you did pre-kids, twinge of guilt followed by immediate overwhelming desire to do whatever is best for your child...sound familiar?)

You've spent your whole married life alone with one another in bed; it's natural to wonder if things will ever be the same again. Well, they won't. Because no matter whether your babe is in bed or in another bed or in another room or wherever, bottom line is; there's still a child in the house and that radically changes your lifestyle!

My husband and I find that co-sleeping actually propels us to be more creative in the romantic department, gives us *more* time to be alone with one another (because our child sleeps so well and peacefully), and brings an amazing sense of security and joy to our family.

There is never any worry of separation from fire or other catastrophe. Nobody is going to slip in and abduct our child while we sleep unawares in the room nearby. Night nursing has proven to be one of the most powerful tools when a child is sick or fighting off illness or dehydration, and co-sleeping has already proven to save our child's life on two occasions!

Once, when our son was a toddler, he vomited in his sleep while on his back. I woke up to hear him choking and see his face blue from lack of oxygen! He was still asleep and choking to death on his own vomit! Thank God I was right there, able to hear his small gasping sounds and immediately rescucitate him! There is absolutely no way I would have been able to hear him had he not been right there beside me. That was when my husband started really raving about co-sleeping! (And, probably like most co-sleeping daddies, he's always been ultra-supportive - especially so when the guys at work would complain about lack of sleep with their new babes and he would just smile and give a well-rested grin).

Another similar situation happened when he was about three years old and was much more ill, and again, we were right there to tend to him and make sure he was safe. I don't want my child sleeping curled up in the corner of a vomit-covered bed like I have heard others talk about finding their children that way in the morning. And my own childhood experience cannot be disregarded.

When I was five years old, I spent the day playing in rain puddles in front of my house. Within hours, while I slept that night, I developed double pneumonia, vomited in my sleep, and as I continued to sleep alone, the vomit aspirated into my lungs. I will never forget waking up and being unable to breathe, stumbling to my parents room and trying to use my voice to wake them up, but being unable to - pulling on pillows and pj's in desperation before I passed out on top of my mother. I spent two months in the hospital, living in an oxygen tent and having horrible treatments that I can still remember, and my parents were told that I might not even survive during the first two weeks.

So, health, safety, and security are some huge reasons why we are a co-sleeping family. Getting to sleep in much, much later is another! Most children wake up, then either cry from the crib or wander from their bed, seeking out the comfort of Mom and Dad, generally waking up completely in the process. With co-sleeping, you will find your child snoozing hours longer than his peers, which not only gives you the opportunity to snooze with him, but because of nursing back to a snoozy state, also bolsters his immune system, and frees up some nice morning hours should you decide to get up and enjoy your own time. Kids who sleep with their parents don't have that sense of urgency when they wake up in the bed alone.

And I can't count how many mornings our toddler would wake up before us, but contentedly nurse, relax, sometimes play with soft toys on the bed or look through a board book (we kept a little basket at the foot of the bed for him), nurse again and then snooze right along with us or play quietly and safely right there on the bed with us while we got to sleep in a little longer. That came in especially handy for me as a SAHM when I was sick and needed some extra rest.

Co-sleeping children naturally learn to emulate their parents sleep patterns and habits, as well. A co-sleeping child who wakes in the night is comforted by the reassuring presence of his parents, and able to fall back asleep at the breast or on his own. Yes, there are times when illness or growth spurts or teething or changes in the household will disturb normal sleep, but that occurs regardless of where your child sleeps. By being right there in bed with you, the return to peaceful sleep is much quicker and easier for everyone.

My family would be amazed when they heard my son, as early as toddlerhood, tell me he was tired and wanted to sleep or nap...he is not reluctant to get into the bed or fall asleep or "miss out" on anything if he rests, because he associates sleep and our bed with gentleness, comfort, love and peace. Today as a five year old, he sleeps a solid ten to twelve hours a night!!

For working parents, co-sleeping can be a wonderful time for reconnection and snuggling that they just don't have much opportunity for, given the amount of time they must spend away from home and family. My son and his daddy love snuggling together and it is beyond beautiful to wake up to the two of them with arms around each other and our little boy feeling so safe and loved by his daddy. As my husband often says, "What an incredible way to start the day!".

As the years have flown by, we've only grown closer, and witnessed the blessings and differences in our family compared to many around us, and we've only become more convinced that co-sleeping is one of the sweetest and most treasured - and temporary, to be savored - parts of our lives.

One day you're wondering when you're going to get your privacy back, the next, your child is standing up to your armpit and learning punctuation. It happens all too fast, and before you know it, your child will not want to sleep with you anymore, will naturally begin to individuate and crave his own space, and then your time sleeping with an angel is over.

So enjoy your precious child and this limited experience in your life, and remember my family motto, "Sleep with angels while you can!"

Fighting for my life against Carcinoid Lung Cancer

Last edited by PurpleButterfly; 06-11-2010 at 07:46 PM.
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