Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Cosleeping and other parenting issues

Okay, what's the deal with the rest of the world telling me what I should and shouldn't do and what I can and can't do. Here's a tip - my daughter is MY daughter. Did that magically escape everyone's grasp? I feel like the day I had my daughter, all the people that I know decided that they knew what was best and they were going to let me know it! No, I haven't been a parent before. Yes, I HIGHLY appreciate any advice given to me by other PARENTS; however, I'm not always going to take the advice.

There are many different parenting philosophies out there. Some are more "crunchy" than others and although I rarely ever call myself a "crunchy" person, I'm finding that a lot of the things that I do instinctively with my daughter tend to fall into this category.

In the hospital my baby slept in her cradle. I wanted to hold her all the time but was constantly told to put her down to sleep (so that I could get sleep too I imagine). After I came home, I put her in her bassinet to sleep for a few days, but having to get up and down all night while recovering from a c-section just wasn't doing it for me so one night I let her sleep the rest of the night next to me in bed. We haven't stopped since. It's so much easier, both on her and myself I think. At night I put her next to me and let her nurse until she falls asleep. I've usually fallen asleep long before she pops off and goes to sleep herself. When she's hungry, she starts fussing, I latch her back on and we're back to me dozing while she nurses and then we both pass out. Nobody has to get out of the warm bed. Nobody has to scream to bed fed. I've commonly heard that once a baby screams to be fed, it's already too late and if you watch a baby it's true. My daughter will start bobbing her head on me, licking anything near her mouth and sticking her tongue out if she's hungry. If I'm watching for these signs, I know to feed her. By the time she's crying and screaming, it means, "Hey, I already told you I'm hungry, what's the deal?" By her cosleeping, I'm able to feed her when she first tells me she's hungry, not when she's already screaming because I've ignored what she's saying.

What other benefits does cosleeping have for us? Well, I sleep for one. Even with her in bed next to me I check on her breathing multiple times a night. If I can't see it with a glance then I feel her to see if she's breathing. Can you imagine how much sleep I wouldn't get if she were in a separate bassinet? I'd be up all night! Co-sleeping keeps us both warm and I think it increases the bond between us. I also think it makes her a less clingy baby (at least as far as needing to always be on me personally). She gets her cuddle time at night so she doesn't need it all day. Now I'm not saying that she doesn't prefer to be held all the time, who wouldn't. She is, however, content with anyone holding her and this is how I'd like to keep it. Happy with me when I'm home and happy with other people when I can't be there.

So, if co-sleeping is so wrong, why does it feel so right?

Recently people have started telling me (yet again) that I need to start having my daughter sleep in her own bed. At first it was so that she would sleep at daycare. Okay, my daycare lady is awesome and set up a vibrating bassinet in her bedroom and my daughter sleeps great in it! If she doesn't, then she'll sleep in her swing. So she sleeps at daycare - what's the next reason for kicking her out of bed? Ah, so we can have the bed back to ourselves. Okay, well, I think I sleep better with her there. I have a history of insomnia. I can usually sleep a few hours and then I'm up for the rest of the night. With my daughter next to me however, although I check on her throughout the night, I'm actually in bed all night long. I feel more refreshed in the morning than I ever have. Even when I came home from surgery - you'd think I would want to nap by myself but nope. I had my daughter right next to me (elevated so I couldn't roll on her) and we both passed out for a good 2 hour nap. What's the point of making her sleep in her own room if we both sleep fine in bed?

My last thought before I end this is - were babies ever really meant to sleep on their own? I have people in my life who live their lives a certain way and constantly have the mantra - "were we really meant to do this?" I got flak for breastfeeding my daughter because of the difficulties we had (a whole other post) - were babies really meant to drink a cow's milk? Some people don't believe that people shouldn't even be drinking cow's milk because it isn't natural for us and because of the inhumane treatment of the cow. It isn't good enough for them, but it's good enough for my daughter? Were babies really meant to sleep off in a separate cave or other living quarters? Probably not. Children were kept close to their parents due to the ease of feeding and the warmth that the closeness would provde. So why, in today's society, do I have to take my baby and stick her in a separate room or a separate bed?

That's all for now. I've had that playing on my mind for a while and needed to get it out there. Leave me your thoughts, advice, comments or suggestions for getting folks off my back. Hey, if you're against co-sleeping, leave your thoughts as well. Nobody can be informed of their decisions without hearing arguments from both sides.