October 22, 2011

My 4 AM Argument For Co-Sleeping

My nest. The decoy pillow.

There are these little things called children that disrupt your sleep patterns in adulthood. They disrupt quite a bit, actually... But for the purposes of this post, let's stick to sleeping. After all, if I'm typing this out at 4:42 AM in the dark of my bedroom, unable to experience sleep first hand... At least I could wax poetic about it. 

Often I get asked why I co-sleep by well meaning homeschool friends who are younger and have fewer children. (My husband says that people who have less than three children are merely babysitters.) I had my first set in my 20s and followed most of the parenting rules, too, back then; so I can understand where they are coming from.

This last set of kids... well, they are my last set (four is how many times I ever want a reason for an epidural)... And since I have teenagers in the house at the SAME TIME as little ones, I know how short the time passes from snuggly toddler to terrible tude. It is next to impossible to imagine a child that towers over you and drives your car to the mall when you are 20. I may not be handing my keys over yet, but I'm close enough to have the conversation with my auto insurance agent. Don't get me started on the importance of cherishing the moments you have with your babies. I'm supposed to be talking about sleep.


I snagged a funny picture on Pinterest (Pinterest is another sleep bandit) of a baby making "sleep angels" between his parents as they both hugged the edge of the mattress. That's kind of what it looks like in my life right now... Only make it a king sized bed and add a stray 2 year old that likes to snooze on your arm or spread out sideways with his feet in your back after he wiggles enough to be 'out'. Usually he's on my husbands side of the bed. If Kevin gets really put out with the foot jabbing, though, he might take his pillow and stumble in the dark through the game room back to the bed in our nursery - where the toddler should be sleeping. We put him to bed each night in his queen mattress on the floor of his room hoping that "this will be the night" he sleeps in there until morning... but that morning hasn't come very many times.

Sure, we might feel more rested if we let the baby cry it out and weaned him from night nursing. We'd probably get more shuteye if we worked on keeping the two year old in his bed, too. However, I would argue with you that: there are more important things than sleep... things that don't stay little very long.

In the grand scheme of life, I'll look back fondly on my nights of "sleep angel" dodging, snuggling against warm little love bugs and listening to their breathing, nursing in the dark and sweet bedtime chatter (last night my 2 year old told me through a sleepy smile as he pressed himself up against my back that I was his favorite mommy). I won't remember the fog or ache of sleep lost. I'll remember the closeness of my babies, the love I shared with them in their fleeting childhood, the presence that I provided for them that only a mama can. 

One day in the not so distant future I'll be losing sleep because the house is empty of little warm bodies as they all go out to make their way in this world. Right now I just want to hold them close.

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Danielle Hull said...

Haha! Sound so familiar! The just-turned-one guy sleeps in his bed for about 2 hours, then with us the rest of the night. I've learned that teaching them a sign for nursing doesn't do much good in the night ;) And how quickly they learn to reach out and make sure you're there! Our oldest got married this year, so my husband has a full-size bed he can go to where the 3-year-old almost always sleeps. Blessings!

Craig said...

One of the reasons - of the many that I'm a never been married man with no children - and I blog in the "mommie" blog community and read pretty much only blogs written by Christian moms is this - this window into a mama's love. The wisdom of life you have - from snow angels to the visions of the empty nest. The love - a greater love than any human love on the planet. The love that most closely resembles the love of God. How you treasure the nighttime activity - it is so full of love I can't contain my smile as I type this. Thank you for your tweet that brought me to this post - and thank you for being ubernice - and a person I am grateful to read. God Bless you Heather - you and all of yours.

PS funny!!! those with less than 3 are babysitters - FUNNY ƪ(◠‿◠)╯

Kristinherdy said...

absolutely beautiful and very, very true. I'm a single mom, living in a messy paradise with two little sleep stealers, but I love it and wouldn't trade it for anything.

Thank you!

MarshaMarshaMarsha said...

with ian, we will try to keep him in his bed. a well-rested mommy and child does make for a happier mommy and child. but then again, i don't know just how hard we will try. :)

i sure do miss christian stealing quietly into our room at night with his blankie in his hand and thumb in his mouth. he became quite adept in climbing right between david and i without us noticing.

fleeting moments, yes they are. glad you are cherishing them! just quit staying up so late, girl! :)

Tiffany said...

I agree completely. I co-slept with all my boys. It made those late night feedsing much easier. I love that your two year old said you were his favorite mommy.

Mama Teaching 3 said...

Yep! We have always had our babies with us.

I was shaking my head in agreement when you were speaking of not being about to imagine how big they really would get in our 20's. I had my first set in my 20's. The oldest will be 13 in a few weeks. The third was in my 30's. I can't wait to have number four and share my bed once more with two sweet "snow angels".

I love you heart.

Katie said...

I had my first when I was 22 and loved co-sleeping with him. So when we had my daughter we planned to do the same, but she was such a light sleeper she was disturbed any time we moved - so it didn't work! I think sleeping situations should be up to each family, what works for them, their child, and their season! :)

Ps. Ouch! Merely a babysitter? That hurts! ;) I long - ache -for more children, but so far the Lord has given us just 2 on earth. (and three in heaven with Him). So thankful He has blessed us with our 2 sweet kiddos though :)

Sprittibee said...

Danielle - Yes, they do reach for you to make sure you are there. My parents split when I was 2 and I wasn't allowed to sleep with mom ever - besides when I was very sick... so I guess something in me that felt "neglected" made me want to do that for my kids. Ha!

Craig - Thanks Craig. Nice to know there are really good people (bonus points for reading my blog) out there on twitter. ;)

Kristinherdy - I like that - sleep stealers. :)

Marsha - Ha! I wasn't up late, I had been awoken by the sleep bandit and we were all sick, so was my husband, so I had noses to wipe and medicine to take. I decided to just get up and shower since I had a conference to go to in a couple of hours.

Tiffany - I loved that, too! Those are my favorite moments. Sweet words that make it all worth it.

:) Blessings on your growing family, Mama Teaching 3! Are you already pregnant with #4? It's harder when you are older, but so worth it. You don't stress about the little stuff as much it's like grandparent-parenting. Hahaha.

Katie - My young little dude (8mo) is a light sleeper, too. It drives me batty. I find that I can just move him to the other side and nurse him, most times, though. On the babysitter thing - that's just because having a teen/tween/toddler/tiny baby has been so overwhelming to both of us (remember we are ONLY children - with divorced families - and had zero parenting skills - LOL). It's all been a learning experience of a lifetime!

Katie said...

I hear ya there too! I was raised by two unbelievers who divorced and basically taught me everything NOT to do as a parent! Lol! Definitely a learning experience - and so thankful for God's redeeming power and grace in our lives - it would all be impossible without Him.

Sheri said...

Awww. We always co-slept and I always had the same reasoning (Provided I read what you wrote right. LOL I'm tired!) I figure they are only little for such a short time that I am going to just immerse myself in it.

Jennifer Kindle said...


The Red Brick Farmhouse said...

What a BEAUTIFUL post! How true that time passes so quickly and in the blink of an eye, our babies are grown, married, and out on their own. (wipes tear)

Hmm....I never really thought myself as amongst the ranks of babysitter before! LOL


Teri Yover Photography said...

Well...our daughter is 6 yrs old and she is very afraid of the dark, or so she says. I think of her 6 years here on this earth she has probably slept in her own bed maybe 6 times. She is way to big but we will persevere. My other children are 29, 30, and 32 and I know she will be gone before we know it. I wouldn't miss this time for anything.

Kerri @ baby monitors online said...

Love that picture of the baby making snow angels. Pinterest is definitely a time stealer as I can spend so much time on there, but I always find some interesting things on that site.

I think it's great that you let your little one sleep in your bed and steal your sleep :) After all, sleep isn't everything as you've stated. When your little one is older it will be nice to look back on the days when they used to kick you in the back during their sleep and leave you hanging on the edge of the bed hoping not to fall off! Will be a good story for telling them when they are older too.

Unknown said...

making me all teary and reminding me to hug my little ones a little closer. we also co-sleep :)
*just with the littles...my 13 year old has grown out of it ;)

вебпромо said...

Nice post! Can’t wait for the next one. Keep stuff like this coming.

webpromo said...

Wow great i have read many articles about this topic and everytime i learn something new i dont think it will ever stop always new info.

TheTadey said...

so I'm a little late seeing this post but OMG you almost made my mom bladder mess up the couch I was giggling so hard!

Last night we had lil man (16mths) and the 3yo in our bed... but I was in the 7yo's TOP BUNK praying my momma backside didn't make it drop like it was hot and squash my 10yo (ya know, the one that thinks she's 17 already!) I *big puffy heart* cosleeping... they each have a bed, but I love my cuddles, and my sleep (the sleep I get curled up at the foot of the bed)



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