I Know Why I Started, Now How Do I Stop?

I had dreams you know. Dreams of having a baby that would sleep in a crib; happily cooing at its mobile, living in the beautifully serene room I had decorated. A baby who might sleep through the night after 8 weeks (lies).

We have a first floor master, a good friend whose twins were 9 months when my son was born said: So you’re going to be down here and the baby is going to be upstairs? He laughed. He laughed the laugh of a man who was preparing the many “I told you so’s” that would come down the pike.

(My son is adopted. That’s not crucial to the story, although it explains why we spent our first two weeks in a Residence Inn in Texas.) After my son was born and they shooed us out the door without a manual, trusting us to care for this teeny tiny alien; I should have known. I had held him for 3 days straight. We would go to eat dinner at the hospital – I would barely be able to lift my silverware because my arms were so weak from being in the same position for 12 hours.

We came to Texas with all the accouterments of new parenthood. Brand new minivan, pack’n’play, stroller, car seat, 24 side snap tees (essential for those of you who go through the ritual torture of circumcision), 12 cases of diapers, 12 baby bottles (glass, ha!),  every baby outfit I had (two suitcases), baby sling, Baby Bjorn, the list goes on. The diapers were too big, the stroller never made it out of the box, we used mini-formula bottles with attachable nipples (can you say God-send?). As for the clothes, we could only use the tees because if he was un-swaddled he would scream bloody murder. And did I mention this was AUGUST in Texas? The first time I took him outside at night, I swear he stopped breathing. I think he thought he was back in the womb. Anyway, all the clothes I had for him were GIGANTIC, so there’s that.

Our plan was to use the pack’n’play bassinet for him to sleep in. We put it right next to the bed. (Not like there was any room anywhere else, it was a hotel people!) Whoa! Was I in for a rude awakening. This was a child that could not be put down. The first night I was so sure there was something wrong with him that I called my good friend in the middle of the night. She had a 6 month old at the time, I figured he must be sick because all he did was cry. Seriously, what people don’t know about having a baby. The only way he would sleep was lying on my stomach. Well, crap. There was no way I would do that in bed. My husband snores like a Mac Truck and plays tennis in his sleep. Not a good combo. I was sure my precious son would be smothered, deaf or lobbed by morning. So I sat on the sofa laid him on my stomach (which was flat then, you know, so he wouldn’t roll off) and watched TV. All night. Not that I was going to get any sleep anyway, he was eating every hour and a half and peeing through his diaper in between. When day dawned, my bright and chipper husband would take over. He would swaddle him, lay him on the bed in the 2nd bedroom surrounded by pillows and work. I would try to sleep, but my husband was afraid to feed him, so I still had to wake up every 2 hours. Two weeks of this. In Texas. No help.

Fast Forward: We are home. Somehow, I still have this idea that my child will sleep in his room. Ha! This is the scene: Child will only sleep in the bouncy seat, with the vibrator on and someones hand bouncing it. I slept on the floor in his room, on a makeshift bed next to a bouncy seat. Really? Yes really.

I had read “The Baby Book” by Dr Sears before my son was born. I don’t know why I resisted the obvious. I had been using a sling – unsuccessfully because I was sure he would suffocate. I wore him in the Baby Bjorn – once, and I was sure he was going to overheat and die of heat stroke. So why not co-sleep? All the other Attachment Parenting things had worked so well for me. We bought a co-sleeper. Cause you know – tennis, Mac Truck. This contraption attaches to your bed nice and tight so your child is at your level, but in its own encompassed area. I had worked out a system of keeping prepared bottles in the pockets of the co-sleeper. However I still had to sleep with one hand on his stomach, or he would not sleep.

See those cheeks? Ripped to shreds through a thick layer of Aquaphor. Nothing could stop that determined boy.

Fast Forward: 16 weeks, the boy has eczema. We feel like we are more competent parents (and by we,I mean I). I try everything to keep him from scratching his face to shreds. Baby mittens, socks, socks taped to his PJ’s, filing his finger nails down to nubs. Nothing worked. He would scratch himself so badly while sleeping that he would wake himself up crying every 3 hours. For all of you Ferberizers, my son woke up every 30 minutes to 3 hours until he was two. YES TWO. It got to the point where I dreaded falling asleep. After 3 or 4 weeks of this, we (and by we, I mean I) came up with a brilliant idea. The boy would sleep between us and we would each hold one arm down while we slept so he wouldn’t scratch. Call DCFS, I dare you. At 9 months we had the big aha! – when we realized through trial and error that he had severe food allergies. (And by trial and error I mean projectile vomiting after eating a baby food containing egg.) Our new journey began, doctors – firing doctors – new doctors – firing new doctors – Great Doctor! Once we found Great Doctor our lives changed forever. We medicated him (which I loathed), covered him in horrible poisonous ointments, and my child, Stopped Scratching. This is him; covered in steroid ointments, a layer of Aquaphor over that. See how shiny his face is, how his hair looks like it has Jeri Curl in it? Yeah, that was our NIGHTLY ritual, still is.

Fast Forward: At 7 years 10 months 8 days, he is still sleeping in our bed. Yup. We moved his bed into our room when he was 5. It was basically like having a sofa in our room. After about 15 minutes in his bed – he would crawl into our bed. I figured why the charade? The bed went back upstairs and we had two guest-rooms.Voila!

A year ago he was determined to move into his own room. He wanted a blue room. We painted the room blue. He slept there about 2 weeks. One of us slept there too. I would trick Mac Truck by asking him to read the boy a book. Mac Truck would fall asleep so hard, in the middle of a book, that I would be off the hook. Mac Truck’s back started to go bad and the jig was up. I told boy he had to sleep on his own because he was a big boy in his big boy room. That lasted two days. He came back to our room and never left. As far as I can tell he has no intention of leaving. Since we finished the basement and my husband got his luxurious man-cave complete with 2 Lazy Boy sofas that fully recline. The boy and I basically have the bed to ourselves. So, as long as Mac Truck falls asleep in front of the TV I’m good. If he doesn’t I either do the King Tut (sleeping in a 12″ space, arms crossed on my chest, not moving all night), or I sleep with an elbow or large cranium in my side.

The More the Merrier

Thank you Dr. Sears. Co-sleeping: Something the whole family can enjoy.


42 thoughts on “I Know Why I Started, Now How Do I Stop?

  1. I connected very strongly to this. I had the baby book and had no clue who dr sears was or what attachment parenting was. I kicked cosleeping to the curb when I got pregnant again. My husband still sleeps with my son a lot. My daughter could care less where we are when she falls asleep as long as she’s in her bed, alone. I think it connects to a need in the child somehow. Also, just like potty training, I try to keep in mind that they won’t go off to college doing that. Jen- thank you, you non traditional parent!

    • Thank you Jean! I have never cared who knew about the co-sleeping thing. Like you I figure there is some attachment need that still needs to be met. I don’t think it’s right to “kick him out.” I know he will go when he’s ready.

  2. omg how funny! I have three kids and I haven’t been able to get any of them to sleep with me. I just can’t sleep, am scared one of us will squash them!

    But it’s so cute 🙂

    am a new follower here! linking up with the ladies, hope you can follow back.
    Claudia@ http://www.prettylittledahlia.com

    • We actually made baby wearing work once he got bigger and didn’t fold in half every time I put him in the sling. Never did like that Baby Bjorn. Then after that the Ergo on the back…heaven.

    • He still has squishable cheeks! But don’t rub his hair, he doesn’t like that! Yeah the food thing makes it way worse. He has been given permission, after food challenges at the Drs office to have some of his allergic foods. Since we included them occasionally his eczema has gotten worse. Well plus the weather is warmer, that makes it worse. And when it’s too dry. Well, just about anything.

  3. Can I tell you something? I don’t care what any “experts” say, I would let our kids sleep in our beds every night until they’re ready to go to college. Or once they turn 30. That might be awkward. I know you’re supposed to get them to sleep in their own bed, but dang it, I love having a cuddle bug. And having both of them in there with us is awesome! Alas, the 2yo really likes her bed, especially now that she can get in and out at her leisure. The 1yo likes being able to spread out, although she loves our comfy bed and would sleep there if we let her. My opinion – if everyone is happy, then who the hell cares? (besides all the mean people)

    • Absolutely! I am thinking once puberty sets in, if he’s still there, we might talk about it. But all in good time! Thanks Miss Miss 🙂

  4. Your little guy is so sweet! I thought our baby was a bad sleeper, but I guess I had it good.. She had a phase between 4 and 10 months when she would wake up 5 to 6 times a night, and since I was nursing there was no way the Mr. could take care of her. That plus a 50-hours a week job were hard..

  5. I loved the images you created in this story: especially of a baby as a tennis ball and your little one sleeping between you and your husband trying to hold his arms down. Sleep is sometimes silly at our house too. 1-4 persons in our bed depending on the hour.

    • I think so many people are afraid of co-sleeping but they don’t realize how many people are doing it! Thank you so mich!

  6. Well, I suppose there are worse things. We had a similar experience. Our son slept with us for 4 years only – that’s when my daughter was born. He wants to sleep with is occasionally – when he needs comfort, and we allow that.

    I know it’s annoying when you want alone time – but I think there are worse things then having your children in your bed with you – although it is quite funny that someone else is having a similar experience to us. After the first child, I stopped reading those books. My son never ever acted like Dr. Sears said he would. I remember breastfeeding, and the book saying that the kid breastfeeds 5 minutes per side and gets off. BIG misconception I had. I think I breastfed my son 24 hours a day for the first 6 months – literally!

    Thanks for the post!

    I came to you from Facebook – and the blog hop at hippie Momma!

  7. Once again, you have your hands full with this one. The force is strong. He’s SO cute though. F Dr. Sears, and all that other horse shit. If there was a cookie cutter for all kids, imagine how boring the world would be. We’d be like perfect mothers or something! Ewww.

  8. While my son doesn’t sleep with us now, for the first 14 months of his life, he only slept with me during nap times (hubs wasn’t home). He’d nurse and we’d both fall asleep with my boob hanging out. It worked. We were able to transition him to napping in his own bed at 14 months. I was 100% opposed to having him cry it out so it took a lot of practice and figuring out what worked. At one point, I think I counted 11 baby sleep books. Seriously. Gah.
    Hope you get some sleep these days!

    • Hey Kristi 🙂 totally sleeping now, even with the little one in my bed. We’ve worked it out. I just move him when he’s bugging me, and he keeps on sleeping!

  9. The best intentions just cannot stand up to reality! But what a cute kid! Hope yo are getting adequate sleep nowadays?
    Great post and thank you for stopping by my party at nannypology.com.

  10. We’re lucky because we have a really good transitioner. He gets to sleep in our bed on weekends and watch a few nighttime cartoons like Umizoomi and then, come Sunday night, he’s back in his bed. I think I like those weekends even more than he does; it’s just such a sweet, fun tradition to have started. We have a younger son who is still in the crib; I’m waiting to see if he’ll want to hang out in our bed, too, or if he’ll prefer to sleep in his own bed on the weekends. He loves his sleep, so I’m not sure he’ll even be into watching nighttime cartoons!

    I’m with Kristi–I hope you’re getting some sleep these days!

  11. He is SOOO stinking cute. When I think about what I worried about then…four years later…and all the crap I thought I needed was reduced to one disposable diaper, a pack of wipes, and a sippy cup stashed in my oversized purse! Happy to have you mixing with us this week!

  12. Funny, I wrote a post I was going to share with the Sunday hop about the opposite: how I thought I would want to sleep in the bed with the little man but it turned out he had other plans. Btw, that middle photo is hilarious!

    • Thanks Deb! I think they have their own ideas about how night-time is going to go…We just have to go along for the ride!

  13. Oh I know how you feel. We have a 4 year old who still crawls in our bed most nights. We started a sleep chart and give her a sticker for each night she stays in her bed until the sun rises. When she gets 7 stickers, we buy her something she’s been wanting. It’s sort of helping, I think. Thankfully our other daughter (5 months) prefers sleeping in her bassinet!

    • He has never been motivated by anything tangible. Even now, I have taken away TV and any games on my phone or iPad, this morning I said he was going to lose another day if he did something, he said, “OK.” We’re on 12 days.

  14. Hilarious! It really helped to put my own sleep-deprivation into perspective. I often think longingly of a magazine article I saw about Celine Dion–she and her husband had a huge (read: 12 feet wide) custom bed and mattress made, so they all bed-share rather comfortably.

    Oh, to have the resources for that!

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