Monday, February 7, 2011

Our Sleep Story

Lucy was an intense kid from the moment she was born.  I remember being in the hospital with her in the middle of the night, having nursed her already for several hours.  She was screaming and even the nurses didn't quite know what to do with her.  Our first nights at home were confusing - don't babies ever sleep?  Do they really need to nurse this much?  What's that schedule I'm supposed to be following?  and how?

For the first nine months I struggled to get her to sleep.  I spent hours rocking and nursing her, gently laying her down in her crib and tiptoeing out of the room.... only to be back again in 30 minutes or less.  I tried everything and read every book on sleep I could find.

During this time I was attending La Leche League meetings and hearing other moms talk about their sleep struggles.  They sometimes mentioned co-sleeping.  At first I thought even the word sounded odd, that it wasn't really something I would do, that it was kind of unnecessary.

I was exhausted.

Eventually I stopped reading all of the "How To Get Your Baby To Sleep" books and started listening to my baby.  Let the Baby Drive was a great book that really helped me relax about it all.

When Lucy was about nine months old, we turned our bed around and pushed it up against a wall in our room.  I clearly remember the day we did this, thinking "what on earth are we doing?".  Lucy slept closest to the wall, with me next to her, and Ross on the other side of me.  For the first time in a very long time I felt rested.  I didn't have to get up and sit in a rocking chair for hours on end, I could just nurse Lucy while laying in bed!  She was perfectly safe, we kept the blankets and pillows away from her ...and we all slept.

Our sleep struggles were not exactly over, Lucy still hated to go to sleep at night and woke frequently.  It was a battle that we fought for several years.  We've had various sleeping arrangements since then.  When Lucy needed more of her own sleep space (and I needed to not be kicked in the head) we pulled a crib alongside the bed and dropped the side down so she was still close to us.  She eventually moved into a big girl bed, and I honestly do not even remember exactly when that happened.

(Julia in her little toddler bed.)

Co-sleeping was a great way for us to meet the challenges of our difficult sleeper.

Julia and Esther both slept with us from the minute they were born.  I loved snuggling them as newborns.  I've since learned so much about the benefits of cosleeping - how it regulates an infant's breathing, body temperature, and more.  Waking up to a happy smiling baby giving me kisses in the morning is the best!  Esther has the cutest little habit, ever since she was just a few months old, she always flops her hand out to the side just until she is touching me.

(Esther napping.)

I nurse my babies to sleep at night and for naps.  We snuggle and cuddle and rock and hug around here.  and its okay.  Lucy and Julia both sleep in their own beds, but come in our room at night and sleep on the floor if they are scared.  Esther sleeps with us at night and naps on the floor on a pillow (and I nap beside her some days!).  It works for us.

Here is a link to some articles on co-sleeping if this is something you want to explore further.


  1. I'm curious how to make the transition from co-sleeping to having kiddos sleep in their own rooms/beds. Our Ellenie co-slept from the time she was born and then at some point when she got big enough that nobody was comfortable in bed anymore, we moved her to a pack n play next to our bed. At about 18mos or so, we moved her to a toddler bed next to our bed. All was well, until it was time to set up a cradle for the new baby next to our bed and we needed the toddler out of our room for space reasons and so the two girls wouldn't wake each other in the night. The past three months have been a nightmare. The baby is sleeping fabulously. The toddler... she's up multiple times in the night screaming for milk and snuggles. Most nights, my husband ends up sleeping on the couch with her. Definitely not an ideal situation. What are we doing wrong and how can we fix it?

  2. As much as I have tried, I have never been able to sleep with Karson in our bed. I was at my parents last night, with a bed pushed up against the wall, and Karson was in the pack and play next to me. He started crying in te middle of the night. He is sick, and I am exhausted, so I picked him up, and put him next to me. He fell right back to sleep. Except I didn't realize when I picked him up that his diaper had fallen off, (another reason to HATE disposables), and he was sound asleep in one of my parents beds, with no clothes on. I loved having him next to me! Thinking we may be moving our bed at home against the wall too!

    (I did leave him asleep with no diaper on, there was NO WAY I was going to wake him up. We both stayed dry. :-)I don't normaly put him to bed in the middle of winter with just a diaper on, but he has a high fever. :-))

  3. Oh Courtney! I feel for you! I struggled with writing this post, and maybe I wrote it wrong... I wanted to share how much I love co-sleeping and snuggling my babies, but we have had soooo many sleep struggles as well. Please don't feel like you are doing something wrong, you are a great mama for responding to your baby's needs and trying to meet them. I'm sure Ellenie is going through a huge adjustment not being the baby anymore. Sleep issues are soo hard for me. It really makes me want to flip out when I finally get the baby to sleep and a toddler or older child wakes up! Agh!

    Will she understand if she sleeps in your room she has to sleep quietly? Do you have older kids that she can room in with? Doing whatever it takes to get sleep for everyone in the house at this point is fine. Can you have a sippy cup of water and little snack by her bed for when she wakes? Julia was HUNGRY at night when I stopped nursing her during my pregnancy. The No Cry Sleep Solution for Toddlers might have some tips? Hang in there, it does get better!

  4. lol Kelly! I don't advise sleeping with naked babies, that could be a disaster! ;)

  5. We used a Close & Secure Sleeper (you put it between the parents in the parent's bed, but it has padded but firm sides to protect baby from pillows, blankets, and rolling over adults!) to co-sleep with our daughter, then we did the same thing with the crib that you did with Lucy when she got a bit older. Most of my friends and family that had their children sleep in separate beds and/or rooms complained of many sleepless nights--we found that our method worked for us and we have had very few sleep issues, and our daughter sleeps wonderfully by herself in her own bed now (she's almost 5.) I think we owe our blissful nights to co-sleeping! And my heart goes out to all those who have sleep issues because there is nothing worse than trying to function without rest!

  6. I love co-sleeping with my babies too. :) Just being able to rest while nursing was so important in those early days and weeks. My littlest one is 5 months old now and we're transitioning him to a crib in his own room. Surprisingly, he's doing really well with the transition despite having co-slept for his first 5 months!

    ~Catherine :)
    (I found you through the HOD board)

  7. I have a Lucy too, except her name is Lilly :-) The first 10 months of her life, my primary goal in life became trying to trick her into sleeping. I read every book and tried almost every humane technique, probably confusing the heck out of her. We bought an Arms Reach Co-Sleeper because we never got much sleep with the children in our bed. However, seven years later I realize that co-sleeping is all the poor child has ever wanted. She still comes to our room at least once a night. At bedtime, she complains that she HATES sleeping, something I've known since she was born. Her brother, a toddler, has slept well since day one. He even asks for a nap when he's sleepy! The problem is they share a room, so his sister often wakes him up with her middle of the night issues. I should have bought a king sized bed when she was a baby. It's not like we're getting any sleep anyway :-)

  8. I would totally go back and put "king size bed" on my baby registry instead of a crib if I could! lol

  9. Hi, i co sleep with my DD from the day she was born. Now that she's 1 1/2, we still co sleep and i slept in the middle of my 3 month old DD2 and my DD1. My husband sleeps on another mattress on the floor. We have a King sized bed and a single bed on all other sides of the floor (just in case). I've had no problem with sleeping. DD2 is used to DD1 crying sound for milk in the midnight, but it doesn't wake her up. She just ignores it. Prolly she got used to it. :) (I'm from Malaysia)