As I looked at my two-year-old baby boy, I still can’t believe he’s already two. As he’s grown, his height and weight have increased, meaning that co-sleeping is no joke on my forty-something-year-old body. However, I’ve realized that co-sleeping is about more than having my son close to me – it’s a family tradition.
At first, the choice to co-sleep had everything to do with breastfeeding. I was fortunate to breastfeed my son for the first eleven months, and it was easier to breastfeed while co-sleeping. Honestly, I never wanted to be a co-sleeping parent. I had heard stories of couples losing their desire for intimacy due to co-sleeping. So, we had his crib in our bedroom and he went between our bed to his crib quite easily.
What Changed Our Minds
At age one, we put our son in his own bedroom.We decorated his room and set everything up ourselves. I was going to be that strong mom that detached from her son and put him to sleep in his own room. Surprisingly, the first few nights were great! My husband and I had our own space in bed, and we had missed each other’s warm bodies.
After a few days, though, our son refused to sleep in his own bed. He started having crying fits, and we figured out that the baby monitor’s camera upset him because the eyes lit up. Despite having the bed to ourselves, we felt it was unnatural not to have our son sleep with us. Co-sleeping just felt right.
A Decision as a Couple
After a few weeks of having our son in our bed again, my husband and I had a conversation about co-sleeping. I asked how he felt having our son sleep with us in our bed. He told me that he loved it, which really surprised me. He explained that since he works nights, he felt that co-sleeping connected him to our son. The warmth and cuddles sold him on the idea of co-sleeping. For the first time, we were having a conversation about co-sleeping and how it made us feel. Ultimately, we both agreed that it felt innate.
Co-Sleeping: A Family Tradition
For weeks after our conversation, I continually wondered why co-sleeping felt so organic for us. I reflected upon my own childhood and the fact that I had slept with my grandmother. I called my grandmother in Guatemala to ask her about this. She told me that we shared a bedroom from the time that I was three years old until we left to Canada when I was ten. She also told me that co-sleeping was a family tradition in her home, as well. She shared a bed with her twin sister! Co-sleeping was simply a part of my family’s beliefs.
To Each (Family), Their Own
What I now realize is that every family makes their own decision about co-sleeping. I often feel embarrassed to tell people that we co-sleep with our son, and usually I’m trying to justify my choice. I frequently tell people that we are trying to get him to sleep in his bed (and for the record, when he has slept in his own bed, it is glorious). However, when he sleeps with us, it feels magnificent. I love his peaceful breathing, his warm body against mine, his little fingers that rub my hands and arms, and even his sticky, sweaty hand that touches my face. Our decision may not be that same as someone else’s, and that’s ok. Our decision works for us, and that’s what matters.