The Reluctant Co-Sleeper

(Photo courtesy of

I am going to commit a huge natural parenting faux pas and admit something....

I kind of hate co-sleeping.

I don't actually 100% hate it.  There are lots of beautiful things about sleeping with your kids.  But, since I am complaining (I will get back to the good stuff later) I should mention some things that make me think I won't miss this stage.  
 ~Being squished

~Waking up numerous times a night as each of the four children wander into our room

~Sleeping sucking my stomach in with my arm at a wonky angle so that I can fit between two kids

~Did I mention that my husband is  ginormous?

~Having one half of my marriage sent to the couch because we don't all fit in our bed

See, one baby can pretty much take over an entire bed!

I know a lot of people talk about co-sleeping like it really saves sleep.  This can totally be true, especially when a baby is little.  I loved having my first baby sleep with us.  Then when he was around six months he started kicking me in the back all night.  Then when he was one and I tried to move him out of our bed I realized that signing up for sleeping with a baby might end up being signed up for sleeping with a toddler.  When on earth would this end?! 

Thus began my love/hate relationship with the "family bed."  Sometimes I think that people who speak highly of it are just distant enough from it that they forgot about how little they used to sleep.  

One thing that sucks about being me is that I always have to eat crow.  For the record, it doesn't taste good.
I remember that distinctive flavor when I started to dislike co-sleeping.  I had told a friend that I didn't understand why anybody would NOT co-sleep (this was probably BEFORE I actually had kids).  They must have been bad parents.  Oops....then I was one of them. 

There has pretty much been a baby or toddler in our bed for the last seven years.  Let me tell you, it started to get old.  Every night my husband would take that long walk out to the couch so that he could get some sleep after a few kids had jumped on board.  

And I would start to look forward to that far away day when just my husband and I could sleep in our bed.  

And no, it would NEVER smell like urine.  

But today, I got to eat crow again.  

I went with my hubby to visit a friend who is in a "home."  You know those places.  Elderly people who are "rehabilitating."  A maze of huge hallways, strange noises, and often very lonely grandmothers and grandfathers.  

We went late, since that was the only time we could get away together, and most everybody was already tucked in for bed.  

I couldn't help but notice that in the room next to our friend was a tiny grandma....but she was co-sleeping!  

"What?!"  I thought.  "Why does this grandma have a baby?  And why is it in bed with her?"

A closer look showed that the "baby" was just a doll.  Little grandma was tucked in at night with her own life-size baby doll atop her. 

Snuggled up, co-sleeping, even though....she didn't have a REAL baby any more.  

I showed my husband.  

"We need to go home and hug our babies," he says to me.  

Oh, the things that get tiresome for parents of young children.  

Always being needed.  Always getting hugs.  Always feeling loved.  Always being crawled upon.  Always having three people who need to tell you something IMPORTANT- right NOW!  

Oh yes, and always having somebody who would rather be in your arms, than anyplace else.  

Maybe someday I will be like that little old lady.  Maybe I will have my own doll to sleep with me when all my babies are gone and I am forgotten somewhere dreary and lonely.  

I hope I at least can take with me warm memories of soft arms and dimpled mouths, and babies that felt best when they were snuggled up next to me. 


Unknown said…
Love this. Thank you for it.
Heather said…
I sobbed. Thank you.
Unknown said…
You are so right. I need to remember this more often. Thank you.
I wonder if the doll was more because she might have been used to sleeping with her husband ... I don't know. :) Whatever works for her!

I do think, though, that you should not be afraid to say that co-sleeping is difficult/doesn't work for you. I think some people have trouble admitting that - that it's not for everyone, and surely something's wrong with you if it doesn't. I think I remember you saying that at least one of your kids was not much for co-sleeping compared to the others, didn't I? Can't remember if that was you or not. :)
Unknown said…
this was great. c:
Darci Cole said…
This was a beautiful reminder to me to hug and kiss my little boy. I planned on co-sleeping with him, but when he was born and we tried it I woke to every little sound and was not getting enough sleep. My body went into shock one morning and it was then that we decided to move him into his own room. After that he slept better and was a happier baby, and I got more rest, which made me a better mom.

I love the concept of co-sleeping, and I'll probably try it out with each of my kids. But if it's not working, I don't feel bad letting it go. As long as they know they're loved, I feel good about my job as a mother.

Then again, I only have one so far, and one on the way :-) We'll see how I feel in ten years, lol.
Mama Birth said…
To me this was more about enjoying the moments we hate (I kind of hate co-sleeping) than a pro-co-sleeping propaganda piece. I don't think it is always right for me or anybody or that not doing it makes for bad mothers. I DO think though that we should probably enjoy the journey (whatever it is) more than we often do.
Wow what a great post. Thank you for sharing. I know that there have been many times that I really did not enjoy co-sleeping with my daughter, but I just could not get her to go to sleep on her own. I have taught myself to say over and over that she will sleep on her own in due time. Plus, it's just the two of us, so we're not so cramped, but she is really good at stealing the covers! Thanks for the reminder to hug and kiss my daughter and to enjoy every moment of it.
Misty Pratt said…
Hopefully with four kids, someone will make sure you're not left dreary and alone in your old age ;)
Anonymous said…
I love it! My two year old is nursing to sleep right now. Everyone keeps asking when we will wean. I keep screaming, "stop trying to rush this! He's already growing up too fast!" I just want to freeze time.
Aislynn said…
I want to go wake up my sleeping babies (in their own beds, but by morning they'll have migrated) right now and cuddle them! Working in an Alzheimer's wing, there were at least two ladies who had babies whom they loved and cared for and showed off like they were real. It was touching, heartbreaking, and telling all at the same time. How do we let these little years get away from us with all the busy-ness of our lives. In the twilight of my life, I don't want to be starved for the touch of babies I didn't enjoy enough when they were small.
Olivia said…
Bedsharing is such a love/hate relationship for me now that my daughter is almost 3. I mostly love it, the snuggles, the comfort of knowing my daughter is safe right there beside me...but, the kicks to the stomach or knock to my head, my arm falling asleep because she wants to sleep on it. I think it's just a natural progression from baby bedsharing bliss to toddler bedsharing discomfort. It's all part of the push and pull we experience in everything as our children grow more independent.
I agree with this, but I would ask that you rephrase your wording? What you are describing is bedsharing. Co-Sleeping is when the child(ren) are in the same room as you =) Thanks
Joy@WDDCH said…
I used to work at a nursing home and I very vividly remember the little old ladies and their "babies" (and yes, many of them thought they were real). Your post echoes my sentiments exactly. Love co-sleeping for the most part but I'm starting to miss sleeping curled up MY way and next to hubby. Hee hee... all in good time, all in good time!
Annie said…
Something I don't think I could ever agree with about co-sleeping, is how many women I hear say that their husbands actually end up out on the couch, or somewhere else because of various reasons (not enough room, being kicked, can't sleep because of so much going on in the bed, etc). My marriage is what holds our family together. My husband is the most important person to me, and to me, personally, imo, I would send the kids back to their own beds before allowing co-sleeping to move my husband from the same bed. I need him next to me, metaphorically as much as physically.