I've been reading a fabulous book recommended by a friend called, "Our Babies, Ourselves: How Biology and Culture Shape the Way We Parent" by Meredith F. Small. (If you click on the link, it will take you to a fairly good book review.)
And as books often do, this one has got me thinking.
And I'm coming to you for your opinion. Mainly, about cosleeping.
I'm frustrated that I have this fear of cosleeping. Mainly, that I'm going to kill my baby, because that's what all the books and pediatricians and consumer health reports tell me. But Meredith Small says that is unlikely, and that our babies biology is actually set up to cosleep. That we can help teach them to sleep by following our sleeping rhythms like breathing and heartbeats. This makes sense to me. Still, and I quote my mother-in-law here, "I was raised..."
But the funny thing is I wasn't raised thinking cosleeping was bad. In fact, (am I really about to share this information on the WWW?...) I slept with my parents until after I started school. Eeek.
So it isn't that I've been raised to think cosleeping is bad. It's that I'm a book worm, and the second I found out I was pregnant with numero uno five years 9 months ago, I started reading all the books I could get my hands on about babies.
And they all stressed a main theme about sleeping: do it separately. Not just do it separately, but also how often and how much and when a baby should sleep was stressed as well. And so when Cohen came along, I stressed about all those things. "He's not sleeping like the book said he should...not as long, not as often, not when..." and it was really hard as a new mom.
Of course, Cohen had medical problems that we didn't discover until he was 3 months, after which we had a whole new, fat, baby. And by then, his internal sleeping habits were well on there way to developing just fine, with or without the help of books. And, without cosleeping.
With Kembry, I let her lay in bed and nurse while I slept. So many people have condemned me for this. I'm not even kidding. "You could've rolled over and killed her!" Uh...not likely. Not only do I sleep lighter with her next to me, so does she. If I so much as tickled her arm, she'd squirm and squack. But my milk supply was there and ready whenever she needed it. It was easier for me. I didn't notice when she was awake and when she was asleep as much* as I would have had she not been laying with me. I didn't stress about the amount she received or when she received it. And she did just fine.
*(Let me clarify: when I say "as much" I mean, I didn't wake up completely, making it really hard for me to fall back to sleep, which is something I have problem with. I simply made myself available, almost still fully asleep. It was nice.)
So, I've done both, sort of. Kembry would go down in her bassinet next to my bed, alone, but ultimately wound up sleeping next to me. Some nights I would put her back, some nights I wouldn't. And we both survived.
Now I'm going to go all conspiracy theory on you. I question the motive behind Western thinking, and why cosleeping seems almost condemnable. Part of me questions why Consumer Safety and Health should have a say on the matter. Possibly because if we did cosleep, we wouldn't buy cribs, bedding, mobiles, stuffed animals, etc., as often as we do now. And let's face it, ours is a land of Planned Obsolescence (not that again, Kelly. Yes, that again.) But this doesn't seem to be a likely reason that the Pediatrics of America would agree that cosleeping is dangerous and bad.
I also feel like all the books and all the t.v. series and all the opinions we're getting befuddles our natural thinking. If we were tabula rasa going into parenting, would we naturally cosleep? I sort of think we would. Would we naturally breast feed? Um, yeah. I think we'd see the streams and milk and the squawking baby with her opening mouth and put two and two together. Would we stress about how much they ate? Probably only if they weren't thriving. Would we worry about how much they slept? Probably not.
What about the other partner in bed? Brett isn't too keen on cosleeping, but when I remind him about Kembry, he realizes he didn't even notice when she slept with us, and has to concede that it didn't bother him one iota. As compared with having to get out of bed with Cohen, wake myself up, feed him, then come back to bed and try to go back to sleep. Yeah, he noticed then as I tossed and turned and some nights just bawled because I couldn't go back to sleep.
And as I read more and more about it, I feel like cosleeping, at least for the first year, is the way to go. It makes sense. It feels right. But the American in me cringes at the idea of rolling over on my baby, or suffocating her with my blankets and pillows, or missing out on "better" sleep which they say I would get or intamacy with my husband (yeah, because I'm so keen on middle of the night romps now). I also don't dig the whole, "I need to sleep with mommy or I don't sleep at all," business. Which is one of the reasons I think putting Kembry down alone, and then bringing her to bed with me, was a smart thing to do.
What do you think? Don't be shy to share your opinion, I'm looking for honest thoughts and experiences.
Here are some articles about this topic I've read thus far:
http://parenting.blogs.nytimes.com/2009/01/26/the-risks-of-sleeping-with-your-baby/ (I kind of scoff at this article)
http://www.nd.edu/~jmckenn1/lab/faq.html (This is more of a website with several different pieces of information on cosleeping.)
http://www.marchofdimes.com/pnhec/298_29656.asp (This is another one of those "scare you out of cosleeping "articles". And who doesn't trust March of Dimes? See, it's frustrating, all the mixed information we get...And again, why is CPSC giving it's opinion? "BUY MORE CRIBS!")