As most of you will know, we are a co-sleeping family. Before Jensen Indiana was born I had read Gina Ford’s book from cover to cover. Being a teacher means I like routine the way that moths feel about lights and I was so sure this was the route for me. When Jensen arrived, I was sure we would follow her routine to the letter. I even told my parents that Jensen would be in his own room from the start. I was so sure of myself. My Mum kept ominously quiet and nodded.
Fast forward to the first moment I’m holding Jensen in my arms and suddenly he’s real and helpless and he needs me. I’d never felt that before. Looking at him was like seeing my heart right there in a white snugglesuit, in my arms. He was MY little person that needed me and cried when he wanted a cuddle, and he was going to get as many cuddles and as much love as he could handle.
Luckily for me (and for Jensen Indiana in hindsight) the midwife who attended me was a woman with an enormous heart for the little ones. I told her what I’d done and that everything so far as I could see was fine, but as soon as I put him in the bassinet by the bed, he would cry again.The first night in hospital, Jensen was crying. I tried everything I could think of to discover what was wrong with him; feeding (although that wasn’t going brilliantly with the latching, he was getting pumped milk from me and so I knew he was fed), he wasn’t wet, he was well winded… I just couldn’t figure it out. So I did as all confused Mammas do, and I rang my bell by the bed to ask the question that I knew probaby every first time Mamma had asked that had been in that bed before me…. “Why is he crying?”
“That’s easy,” she told me. I was so impressed ~ a obvious solution! “He wants to be with his Mummy. Would you want to be in a plastic box after you’ve spent the best part of ten months being cuddled inside your Mummy?” She picked him up and gave him to me and of course after a few seconds the crying stopped and the snuffling and gurgling started. I tucked him inside my Hot Mama Gown (I highly recommend these for any new Mum in hospital) and he settled back to sleep. I thanked her and off she went again.
|A happier, snugglier, closer-to-Mamma Jensen Indiana|
As I lay there, gazing at Jensen slumbering very happily next to my breast, her words sunk into my soul very heavily. Of course he wanted to be with his Mamma. He’s never known anything else, and this world is scary when you’re so small. Something about that struck right to the core of my heart like an arrow and has never moved since. From that moment on I knew I was a very different Mamma from the one I envisaged I would be. If Jensen needed or wanted a cuddle, kiss, or any reassurance whatsoever, he would get it. After all, isn’t that why we have children, to shower them with love and affection? The Gina Ford book went to the recycling bin and out came Dr. Sears.
Fast forward two years on and I think we’ve raised a very confident, sweet tempered, intelligent little boy who never has to doubt he’s loved. He still sleeps in our bed and although it’s more of a squeeze these days, I wouldn’t change our past together. Co-Sleeping helped me to establish breastfeeding easier and enabled me to nourish my baby until he was 17 months old and self weaned (and my path wasn’t an easy one, it took 3 months to be free of pain). I’ll never have to regret any night that I’ve left him to cry and wonder if it has any impact on him. I’m scared of the dark myself, I have been since I was little ~ why would I want to pass that onto my own dear son? I never want him to wake up in the dark and doubt that I’ll be there to reassure him. The dark is just where we sleep, together.
When Jensen was younger I was so scared to admit that I co-slept. It’s seen as something wrong by the majority of people I know. I’ve heard it all; that it’s dangerous, I’ll squash him (research has shown that exclusively breast feeding mothers are very aware of where their babies are in relation to them whilst they are asleep), that it’s building a rod for my own back (I don’t know about any other breastfeeding Mamma, but getting out of bed every 20 minutes for a good few months is much harder than rolling onto my side or sitting up in bed to immediately feed my baby and not having to risk waking him up when I put him back into his cot). The best one I hear is that he is manipulating me. This one always makes me laugh. Why do so many people view babies as plotting evil geniuses? Jensen wanted to be, and still wants to be, close to me, end of story. Why wouldn’t any parent want that for their child?
I’ll admit that co-sleeping isn’t for everyone, but it is for me. We didn’t merrily just all get into bed and ignore the advice concerning this practice. Jensen slept safely next to me and continues to do so until he decides it’s time to go to his own bed. Which is why this week we invested in an Arms Reach Co-Sleeper. As there is quite literally no room left in our bed for another body, and because it would not be safe for us to bring Seahorse into bed with his brother there also, this clever bed attaches to the side of my bed like an encapsulated extension. Seahorse will slumber there safely and right by my side. He’ll be able to hear me, smell me and feel a part of our family. In turn, I won’t have to worry about him sleeping away from me and I can feed him on demand without having to haul myself out of bed every time he needs a feed.
This weekend Jensen and Dadda decided to set it up ready. After all, there are only 6 days to go until due date!
There was a lot of assembly to be done… Luckily Jensen knew what was going on.
|All done, Mamma!|