on co-sleeping

16 Sep

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:

IMG_2219IMG_2220IMG_2221IMG_2223 IMG_2227IMG_2233IMG_2469

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15 Responses to “on co-sleeping”

  1. phantomdiver September 16, 2013 at 10:30 am #

    Funny little baby!

    Yeah, it’s true, the American Academy of Pediatrics is not exactly a fringe group. But how did people sleep in the days before babies had their own beds? When your baby is exclusively nursed, co-sleeping at least some of the time just seems like nature’s way to me. Mind you, we didn’t co-sleep except when I was nursing and just afterward, until I woke up and realized the baby had finished. I do think it’s a good idea to co-sleep, but only for those who feel comfortable with it AND don’t smoke or abuse substances. Of course I’m not a doctor, but I’ve nursed and raised four children and have observed the nursing and raising of five more.

    One night, when we had traveled to Jonathan’s mother’s family home in Normandy, it was really cold, and I insisted that we put Patrick the six-month-old baby in between us in bed, because I thought he’d get an awful chill otherwise. In the middle of the night, Patrick emitted a horrendous scream. Both of us woke up with a start. Patrick was perfectly fine and had slept through his outburst. We realized then that we could sleep with him.

    • annaojesus October 4, 2013 at 10:26 pm #

      oh I love the story, thank you!

      I agree that I think co-sleeping can and does work for a number of people. But when you’re in the ER and you see it go catastrophically wrong, it really leaves an impression on you :/

      Thank you so much for your input!

      • phantomdiver October 4, 2013 at 10:43 pm #

        I just bet it goes catastrophically wrong sometimes. :’-( I’ve heard that substance abuse combines very badly with co-sleeping. Has that been your experience? I mean in the ER. Not that you would every abuse substances and co-sleep!

      • annaojesus October 4, 2013 at 10:47 pm #

        Unfortunately, yes, but I think high body mass even more so (just from experience, I would have to look up the actual numbers). Being obese, or even just overweight, changes the way we leave in very dramatic ways. And my guess is that it is the loving and thoughtful parents, who just happen to be overweight, who are more attracted to co-sleeping. Thoughts?

      • phantomdiver October 4, 2013 at 10:50 pm #

        I know a wonderful, loving (American) mother who is very overweight and co-sleeps. I think that she’s trying to get the baby to sleep in a crib, though. Seems to me that being overweight is not a problem in places where people have no choice but to co-sleep. You know, first world problems and all that.

      • annaojesus October 4, 2013 at 11:12 pm #

        Yeah, it’s too bad, and a sensitive topic (something I’m sure I could be more sensitive about, particularly since I’m not exactly a model of perfect health or consistently good decision-making). Bottom line, the vast majority of kids will be fine. But when you’re a first-time parent and you don’t know what you’re doing, but you have some medical knowledge (and your husband has much, much more), it’s easy (maybe even reasonable?) to get scared about the small chances.

        It’s for that reason that we also have a hard time getting behind home births. Yes, for most women with healthy pregnancies, no complications, all good fetal signs, it could work out well. But when you’ve seen it go horrifically wrong, it’s hard to back it. On the flip side, I’ve seen women with prolapsed cords and placental abruptions (to name a few not-so-rare and certainly not always predictable conditions) have their child (and themselves in the case of placental abruption) saved because they delivered in a hospital.

        I apologize–I think it’s undesirable to get on this kind of medical recommendations soapbox, especially since I’m a student and don’t know anything. I can absolutely support, sometimes even favor, some complements to what we might consider “normal” medicine (a poor phrase, but I cannot think of a good alternative at the moment). I had a midwife (a midwifery student, actually) delivery me. I am a fierce advocate of the benefits of yoga, meditation, and acupuncture. And I was definitely using evening primrose oil, raspberry leaf tea, you-name-it in my final weeks of pregnancy to try to encourage labor. I understand and sympathize with the desire, sometimes even the need to co-sleep, though I am still a bit wary of it. And I do think, in the end, it’s a balance of risks. Sometimes you have to go with what works for the benefit of your own health and sanity.

      • phantomdiver October 5, 2013 at 7:35 am #

        I understand what you’re saying. Please don’t feel defensive about presenting what you’ve learned and especially not what you’ve actually experienced, whether it’s through direct experience or John’s experience. It’s tough to strike a balance between listening to other parents and standing up for what you know is right. That can be a lifetime battle!

        I have my own issues that are difficult to discuss in light of my knowledge and experience, believe me. They’re especially hard to talk about when one can’t use the interplay of facial expression and body language. I feel for you!

      • annaojesus October 5, 2013 at 12:07 pm #

        Oy, a lifetime battle, eh? I better get some thicker skin…or maybe slicker skin, let it skate right off?

        Yes, blogs are great forums, but they’re not for everything, and there are a few things that are difficult to discuss, though some things are easier as well. If anything I’ve said has struck a nerve, do let me know!

      • phantomdiver October 5, 2013 at 7:58 pm #

        Nah, no nerves struck here! Stay calm and carry on! 😉

  2. Tina S. September 16, 2013 at 12:25 pm #

    I never exactly planned to co-sleep with either of my kids, but ended up doing it for about 5 months with each. Colton just refused to sleep in his bassinet, so that made that decision fairly easy. When I had Emmeline I was so comforted by having the new little baby sleeping next to me that I practically couldn’t sleep out of paranoia if she *wasn’t* next to me. I would worry (unnecessarily) about her not breathing or something equally unlikely and would just want to sit and stare at her all night to watch over her, but I knew that if she was sleeping against me I knew she was breathing and that I would sense if something was wrong.

    Probably the best piece of advice I got as a new mom (from the incredibly experienced Rosie) was to learn to nurse lying down. I would just latch them on and pass back out, taking in as many minutes of sleep as I possibly could.

    Ari is simply adorable, and so photogenic. Hope I get to meet her one of these days! Much love!

    • annaojesus October 4, 2013 at 10:30 pm #

      Whoa! I never was able to nurse lying down! I’m way impressed–maybe I’ll make a more concerted effort with my next; and would definitely love pointers. Thank you for sharing a little bit of your experiences.

      Yes!! We will meet each other’s kids one day–I look forward to it as well 🙂

  3. hk September 16, 2013 at 3:10 pm #

    Hi!
    I like your blog a lot; I’ve got a little guy a year or so older than Ari and another on the way… it’s fun to look back through Ari’s development! Your mention of the Peapod caught my eye: we used to use one too, but they’ve ALL been recalled. You can send away for a kit to modify them to make make the sides a little stiffer so there’s less of a chance of the kiddo inhaling the nylon.
    Keep those sweet pictures coming!

    • annaojesus October 4, 2013 at 10:33 pm #

      Hello there! Apologies for the delay in response! I’m so flattered that you like my blog; thank you 🙂

      And, yes, I didn’t hear all those details about the recall, but we learned about some of the details surrounding it (really sad) before we purchased it. We have a newer version, post recall. Unfortunately, it doesn’t really seem to be Ari’s thing, but maybe we all need more practice. I think it’s a helpful invention, so we’ll keep it around.

      I’m so glad you’re enjoying going back through her development–must be so interesting through the eyes of someone a year ahead. Best of luck with your pregnancy, delivery, and the early days!

  4. fraint September 17, 2013 at 9:45 am #

    AHHH i am dying from these pictures!!! i absolutely LOVE the first picture of Ari falling asleep on the hike!

    • annaojesus October 4, 2013 at 10:25 pm #

      Awww, thanks! She can’t fight it!

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