Saturday, March 17, 2012

Dreaming Together

Once again we roll around to the age-old complication that attachment parenting and co-sleeping provokes.    When we are stumbling from our bed, bleary-eyed and sex starved for several days on end and our baby is smiling but we are ready to tear each others throats out in either lust or because we are pissed and tired; the question is begged- Where is the balance?   Now, there has been a whole lot of posts in the mama-blogosphere as of late in regards to the safety of co-sleeping and I want to address this briefly before moving on to complain about my life.   Justin and I are co-sleeping professionals but beyond that I really think the whole co-sleeping debate is rather ethnocentric and lacking in logic.   In case you haven't seen the billboards that Michigan has put up in a recent campaign to teach mothers that sleeping with your babies is akin to killing them with a very sharp and menacing looking butcher knife:

Or that your bed is a grave:

 In all of the planet Earth, the instance of children having their own rooms or own places to sleep is less common than a communal sleeping arrangement.   The same talking heads that spout this bullshit are the very same that claim mothers responding to their baby's cry is allowing them to manipulate you or that attachment parenting means you consent to your children controlling you.   We do live in a society and culture that provides for just about everyone to be compartmentalized in their own spaces but this does not necessarily mean it is better or safer.  In fact, mothers sleeping with their infants has proven to be a safeguard against SIDS.   Babies need to rouse themselves continually throughout the night to regulate their delicate breathing cycles and find rhythm and comfort in their mother's breath and heartbeat.

Dr. Sears says it so well:
Nighttime is scary time for little people. When considering where baby should sleep, look at things from a baby's point of view. If you were an infant, would you rather sleep alone in a dark room behind bars or right next to your favorite person in the whole wide world and inches away from you favorite cuisine? The choice is obvious.
I think we say it pretty well, too:
Sparreaux and her mama

Justin is going to kill me but I love it!

Justin and a very little Indra taking an afternoon nap

   So, to all those nagging (but well-intentioned) relatives and friends that say, "Oh, is he/she sleeping through the night yet?"  a better question might be, "Is your baby still waking regularly to nurse throughout the night?"   How good would that make you feel as a mother to get that same praise you would get if your baby were "well trained" to suppress their needs if you were encouraged to sleep next to your little one and be a constant source of support, safety, and growth.  Ok, ok, I know- I am totally rolling you through the crunchy mama, attachment parenting granola but bear with me.

Let's focus our attention back to our situation.   With Indra we had a really hard time transitioning her to her own bed.   In fact, I would say it was downright traumatic on all of us.  Indra still sneaks up to our bed about 2-3 times a week and inserts herself gently between us.   She gets her best rest and you can absolutely tell a difference in her well-being the next day if she has slept next to us.   We, however, needed to kick her out of the nest for the arrival of Sparreaux.   Indra is sort of a kung-fu fighter in her sleep and only Justin with his incredible ability to sleep through anything (including toddler kicks to the face) can rest next to her.   Clearly, kung-fu toddler and an infant don't mix well.  So, fast forward: Sparreaux is now 1/2 a year old and is starting to really insert a noticeable wedge into my personal space and also my relationship.   I can get her down to sleep but she won't stay asleep unless I am right next to her and/or my boob is in her mouth.    It is quite frustrating for the both of us.   I need to lay down with her in order to get any night-time reading done.   Me time?   Non-existent.   So, here lies the problem and the solution is difficult to suss out.  If ever there were a time that I would consider the dreaded "cry-it-out" technique; this would be it.   Justin likes to remind me that it is I that chooses this lifestyle and it is because I love it.   I love even the times that are difficult and present a challenge.   Growing kiddos, I know how very fast it goes and Sparreaux is my last so I resign.....if she wants her mama, well- I want her.  :)

For safe co-sleeping sources, please check out these links:

Dr. Sears
Mothering Magazine
Breastfeeding dot com
Attachment Parenting dot org