Tuesday, March 3, 2009

To co sleep or not to......

It's strange that the whole concept of co sleeping is such a controversial topic in this country. I mean, where I come from, it only seemed natural to fit as many people as one humanly possibly could on a bed or a room. Okay, you're probably wondering where I'm from. Let me be more clear. Growing up in Africa, I had my own room after a certain age. Although I loved snuggling in with my parents in the mornings. And the best times were when my Dad was out of town, because then, I could cuddle with my mother the whole night. I would sleep with my little back against her tummy and call it the "Kangaroo". There was something very comforting about feeling her warm breath on top of my head, and the heaviness of her arm around me.

What I really waited for were my trips to India to visit family. Being the only child for 9 years, I loved the chatter and excitement in my cousins' homes. We always had such a great time together. The most fun was at night time, when my aunt would bring out the thin cotton mattresses and lay them out in the living room from one end to the other. And my cousins and I would huddle together, telling each other stories and discussing what we were going to do the next day. I always felt like I belonged when we had our tiny arms around each other.

I remember when I went to boarding school, we would all wait to sleep in the 'common room'. It would take almost an hour to drag our individual mattresses from the two main bedrooms, and line them next to each other. One could hear little conversations all around the room, interspersed with giggles and shushes. The housemother didn't encourage this arrangement much, because we all had a hard time waking up in the morning for breakfast. But it was a special treat for us all, especially since we were so far away from our homes, and these girls were the closest people to family at that point.

It's so strange that when my first baby was born, I wasn't too comfortable bringing him into bed with me at night. I somehow felt I might roll over and squash the tiny thing. I just felt he was safer in his bassinet. Although, the late-night feedings were moments that I cherished; as I held his little body against mine. It was so hard to believe that I had created this little creature. We went through a challenging period after a trip back from India, when Shiv would want to sleep with us. He was 8 months at that time, and would wake up at the slightest sound. It was very frustrating for the next few months for my husband and myself, since we barely got any sleep with this child waking up every hour sometimes. We finally decided to move him to the crib and sleep in a different room. It was a difficult transition but we finally did it.

Shiv became so 'independent' that when it was bedtime, he would actually throw my husband out of the room once he had been laid down in his crib. We moved to our new home, where he now had his very own room, with the colourful Ikea curtains, and the bright rug and everything. And he was still sleeping on his own........until the new baby arrived!!

The arrival of Shome brought Shiv back into bed with us again!! So we were one big happy family sleeping in the same room; Shiv, my husband and I sharing the new king sized bed (I will never regret that purchase...ever!!) and Shome, my newborn, in his cradle next to us. And of course, we complained and let everyone know what a pain it was to have our child's feet in our face EVERY night. But deep inside, we actually began to enjoy having him in bed with us. I'm not sure what it was really. It wasn't always comfortable. I mean, the child had his legs and arms everywhere!! But I just felt complete having both my babies close to me. Shome would wake up a couple of times at night for a feed, and as I would hold him to my breast, I would sneak a peek at my other little boy, all curled up with his blanket.

Shome sleeps in the baby room now, with the Ikea curtains. Shiv has graduated to a big boy car bed in another room, which desperately needs some bright curtains. And my husband and I take turns cuddling with Shiv whenever we can. I usually nap with him in the afternoons, while Ranjit is with him at night. We both love how he holds our face with his tiny hands and kisses our lips gently. We love his stinky warm breath against our faces. We love how he puts his arms around us and his forehead against ours. We love how his face is all scrunched up with his eyes shut, when we tell him to go to sleep.

Maybe, he won't be as independent as the research indicates he should be at his age. But I know that many many years down the line, my husband and I will treasure these moments with him. It won't be long before Shome might join the gang in bed. And when he does, I may lose some sleep. But I know that at my lowest moments, the memory of holding my babies close to me will make me smile again.

1 comment:

Jen said...

I completely understand the reason some people love co sleeping. Personally, though, it wouldn't work for me AT ALL, and I knew this from the beginning. I need sleep to be a happy, well functioning mommy, and Dylan has that leg ADHD thing you spoke about in the other post! I would wake up bruised!