The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends against co-sleeping, stating that it increases the risk of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS). Therefore, John and I were adamantly against co-sleeping. I mean, we can be a little granola, but the American Academy of Pediatrics is not exactly a fringe group; if it provides recommendations for keeping your child alive in the first year of life, we take them. To add terror to our paranoia, John’s seen a number of parents bring in blue babies to the ED after accidents of co-sleeping…scary stuff!
And then the three-week mark of postpartum sleep-deprivation set in and, despite all efforts otherwise, I would fall asleep with Ari cozily nestled on my chest. Each time I would wake up practically in nervous tears that I might have restricted her breathing for a moment, causing some sort of neurological damage that would unfold in the coming days/weeks/years. I was petrified. And then at times, much to John’s chagrin, I would surrender, and I would settle into a safe, well-contained portion of the bed, and co-sleep.
At our one-month appointment, I admitted my transgressions to my pediatrician. ”I know it’s risky, I know it’s not recommended, but how exactly bad is this?” He responded sympathetically, “Look, I can’t recommend it outright, but I can tell you that co-sleeping is practiced exclusively in a number of countries, and they don’t have a higher incidence of SIDS. At some point, you have to weigh the risks of co-sleeping with those of you being horribly sleep-deprived.” John and I also reassured ourselves that we weren’t overweight, we didn’t smoke, and we weren’t sleeping altered by drugs or alcohol, some of the confounding variables that seemed to be present in co-sleeping accidents.
Regardless, as soon as other options presented themselves–when Ari fell in love with her swing–we moved away from co-sleeping and didn’t return…until our first night in Italy. We were all still recovering from the infamous flight across the pond, and our exhausted little nugget was not tolerating the pea-pod. She would kick and get increasingly frustrated by/hysterical due to the elastic recoil of the tent; she would sit up and her head would bounce off the top–she was a mess. After a few minutes of walking and singing, John lay the still wide awake Ari down on her stomach next to me on the soft queen mattress. As soon as her cheek hit the bed, she was out like a light, it was remarkable. We didn’t question it; we didn’t try to move her; we just gave in to sleeping with her between us. It was sweet, and having all of us well-rested set the tone for the coming week of travel. And I couldn’t help but giggle the couple of times John and I would wake up just barely hanging on to our respective edge of the queen bed, being pushed to the sides by a 21-pound infant who decided that she wanted to sleep perpendicular.
Below, moments of peri-sleep caught on camera: