No More Mommy Wars: Co-Sleeping (or Not)

For the last installment of “No More Mommy Wars” (for now at least, maybe if there is more interest we can expand the series later this summer!), Bonnie of A Knotted Life shares with us about her somewhat surprising (to her) decision not to co-sleep. Thank you so much and welcome Bonnie!

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We don’t co-sleep and we like it that way.

When I was pregnant with my firstborn I was preparing for a homebirth and breastfeeding, so it’s not surprising that everything I read and everyone I spoke with encouraged co-sleeping.  It was also suggested by people who practice natural family planning (NFP) as a way to best suppress my return to fertility.

When my oldest was born we lived in a one bedroom apartment. I wasn’t completely comfortable with co-sleeping but I would nurse her in bed with me and then move her to the bassinette, which sat directly next to my bed.

And I couldn’t sleep. At all. Every little gasp or stir or breath she made jumped me from my sleep. Having her next to me wasn’t working and so we moved her to the other side of the room.  Things were better but not by much. It seemed that we were keeping each other awake.

Honestly she did want to be with me and she slept best while snuggled into bed with us but I just couldn’t handle it. I needed to not be touched or needed. I occasionally did these spastic movements that looked like I was swiping away bugs that were all over my body, but instead I just couldn’t handle being touched any more.

Unfortunately I kept listening to the people who were telling me that I needed to keep her close to me. Most of them, in our conversations or in their writings, pretty much expressed that she would grow to be a clingy toddler, bratty child, animal torturing teen, and serial killer adult if I would not let her sleep with us. I felt like a horrible mother – a complete failure at one of the few things I had wanted to be my entire life.

With her sleeping next to me I became more and more exhausted. I did not enjoy motherhood, I did not enjoy my baby, and most days I raged at every little annoyance. My temper was always exploding; I was punching walls and whipping my pillow against the bed so I wouldn’t shake my baby who cried all the time. She barely napped so I could not nap and the only opportunity for sleep came when we finally set up the pack-and-play in the living room. My husband spent at least half of most nights sleeping in the recliner, holding our daughter, while I slept soundly in our bedroom, behind a closed door.

Removed from my child I was finally able to sleep which meant I was also able to be awake, to enjoy life, to feel like I was alive again. My impatience, resentment, and anger – they all went away as I became better rested.

Eventually, as we awaited the arrival of our second baby, we transformed half the living room into our bedroom and set up the bedroom as a nursery. By that point we knew what I needed in order to enjoy my children and what my family needed in order to enjoy me: Sleep. By the time our third child was born we had a four bedrooms and I was completely happy to lay the baby in the crib, turn on the monitor, shut the door, and go to own room and sleep next to only my husband.

My toddlers are not clingy, my children are not bratty, and I am not a bad mom for doing what I need to do so that I can live and enjoy my life and vocation.  In fact, my kids are awesome and they’d be the first to tell you that I’m a great mommy, even if I kick them out of the bed.

  • http://adreamerswife.com A Dreamer’s Wife

    I’m right there with you, Bonnie! I don’t sleep very well with a little one right next to me and sleep is vital for my patience and sanity! I love when my kids are sleeping peacefully in OTHER rooms!

  • evainthegreen

    This is me and my babies to a T. As hard as I tried, I simply cannot sleep with them in the room with me. We are all so much happier and well rested with everyone in their own rooms. Thank you for sharing!

  • http://laurentreven.wordpress.com laj4552

    In addition to the fact that co-sleeping scares be to no end (my husband and I are very deep sleepers) I felt the same way about needing sleep to be functional. No co-sleepers here too.

  • http://goodgrief-ryanne.blogspot.com RyAnne

    Love this! I tried to sleep with Abigail but slowly her bassinet got further away..across the room, in the hallway, in her bedroom, and finally in her bedroom with the door shut! She was such a loud sleeper and I could not turn my mind off with her in the room. We joke that we are a serious family of sleep-at night we all go to our own spots-our bed, her crib and the dog in her crate! Everyone is rested and happy!

  • http://deogratiasacademy.wordpress.com msagala1

    This was my experience with my first, too! We’re getting ready for our second to be born later this summer, and I’m dreading having to sleep in the same room (but our house is so tiny we might need to for a few weeks…or I may need to sleep on the couch!). I felt soooo guilty not co-sleeping with the first one but it was JUST NOT POSSIBLE! Glad I’m not alone 😉

  • Sarah

    Sleep is so important for parents! And honestly, it’s awesome when a parent can “sleep train” their kids early. Co-sleeping is wonderful but has it’s downfalls too. Sarah, I have another topic for “Mommy Wars”: circumcision. Wow. I have been running into this war a lot lately among us mommies of boys (if you need someone to write on it, I think I could squeeze in some time to do it!).