I came across this beautiful print this morning. Someone shared it on Facebook and it completely jumped out at me. Isn't it gorgeous? It's called The Wendts Family Bed and the artist is Gioia Albano. I have just ordered the print here.
Where do I even start? Firstly it is just a beautiful picture. The colours are gorgeous and it's really... soft or something? I don't know the lingo when it comes to art appreciation but I know that I saw this and it touched me.
It got me thinking about co-sleeping and about the sort of tribal element of it. Look at it whatever way you want but babies want to be close to their parents. They spend their first 9 (or 10, depending on how you look at it) months of existence living IN you. Of course they are going to want to be close to you as much as possible. It's instinctive, natural, normal.
When we started breastfeeding I quickly realised that the moses basket was totally pointless in our house. It was more or less redundant. We were co-sleeping as that was what made sense. I was feeding on demand, I was exhausted, and not having to physically get out of bed ten times a night was something that made life easier. It's all about making your life easier. I am all about doing what feels right, and let me tell you this felt right. My own mother had co-slept with myself and my siblings and was very encouraging. My public health nurse was also very supportive, knowing that I had done my research and would co-sleep in the safest way possible.
Co-sleeping afforded all three of us the best possible opportunity for sleep every night. It made a profound difference. I would go to bed with my son earlier in the evening and feed him to sleep. I would then catch some much-needed sleep myself. My partner would then join us a bit later and we all slept peacefully. If my son woke for a feed, I was right there beside him. It just made sense.
And then the night feeds began to taper off a little bit. Suddenly he was only feeding 2-3 times per night and was sleeping for longer stretches. We had just moved house and after an initial settling in period we decided to try him exclusively in his cot in his own bedroom. After a couple of hours of total panic (I hated being in the other room to my baby) it ended up being a total success. He was happy and slept for a couple of hours before waking for a few feeds. Since then we encouraged him to sleep in his own cot and it was going really well.
And then he got teeth. He was a late enough teether. His first tooth emerged just before his first birthday. He is 15 months old now and has 5. Teething is no joke people. I have never heard roars and screams like this. It was really quite scary. We gave Calpol and Teething Gel and it helped of course, but this little man wanted his Mammy. As soon as I fed him he would calm down, become distracted, and would eventually fall in to a deep sleep. I was never more happy to be breastfeeding. It felt like I had a secret weapon, a super power even.
At this point his sleep began to worsen. He was waking several times roaring with pain, actually screaming "OW" with big red cheeks and tender gums. He didn't even want his soother. I went back and forth feeding and comforting him and he always ended up in our bed from about 4am regardless of the night. I was beginning to feel exhausted. I didn't want to "go backwards" but every single instinctive mothering bone in my body was telling me that co-sleeping would make my life a lot easier. He wanted to be near me, the odd quick feed, and basically... some company.
And here we are. Co-sleeping with our 15 month old. Some nights my partner is exiled to the spare room (to his own delight as he gets uninterrupted sleep for many hours) but usually we all sleep together. I got my hands on a bed rail and it just works. He starts the night in his own cot and will sleep for about 3 hours. From about midnight it is a slippery slope though. I can spend the night rocking, ssshing, bouncing, singing and patting only to be awoken 30 minutes later to do it all over again or I can let my baby sleep beside me. It is a no-brainer.
Truth be told, I love having my baby close to me. I am very lucky in that my partner is hugely supportive of breastfeeding, co-sleeping and basically anything that results in our little person being comforted and happy. Having a supportive partner is imperative. He is an amazing father and we are a team.
Today is Wednesday and I write this on my lunch break. I've only had one coffee all day and I feel completely awake. This is a whole new feeling. Last night my son woke at 11pm and I just took him in to our bed with me. We slept from 11pm-6am with little or no disruptions. He woke for a feed or two, but that was it. Once he was beside me he was happy to soundly and peacefully sleep. When it came to morning time we had to wake him and he absolutely did not want to leave the bed. Eventually we lifted him, almost late for work, and he continued to sleep on my partner's shoulder.
Perhaps he'll be a "sleeper" one day. Safe to say he won't be sleeping with us when he's a teenager. So for now, we are enjoying every moment of sleepy cuddly baby that we can get our hands on.