babies. Shocking fact number 1 for you to digest, getting the goddamn hippie factor right up there in your face-Dakota slept with us until he was seven. Right up until Lola was born. Ian slept with Mr. Curry off and on until about five, when we married. Lola was sleeping in her own bed, then I was sleeping with her for a while. When I write 'was sleeping with us' it's a casual reference. Dakota slept with us off and on would be more correct. It's a flexible situation when our kids our little.
This brings us to shocking goddamn hippie fact number
2: Current sleeping arrangements are as follows
Queen Bed / Myself, Ever, Lola
Small Pottery Barn Sleigh Bed / Mr. CurryBunkbeds / boys
After I came home from the hospital with Ever, Lola was in a panic. Unprepared for the swelling, tubes and strangeness of a C-Section ( me too, kid ) she clung to Mr. Curry and I like a rhesus monkey. So we set up the most comforting arrangement we could imagine, and pulled Lola's mattress onto the floor next to our bed. We spent each night snuggled together falling asleep to almost muted Harry Potter DVDs.As we all adjusted, we began to make plans to slowly transition Lola, when Ever became ill with RSV and was hospitalized. When we came home from the hospital, we went right back to our comforting nest and that's the way it is. Mr. Curry is a light sleeper and because of the Bipolar, it's more crucial than the average bear that he get regular, decent sleep. Between my nighttime anxiety ( can't just lie there and fall asleep in the dark, for God's sake! ) reading and T.V., Lola's routine of being read to and reading, and Ever's nursing to sleep intermixed with bouts of fussy, Mr. Curry often sleeps in the room with the kids bed and the crib- you know, the room we made for the kids. The one Mr. Curry painted and assembled the crib and reorganized for me?
Let me reassure you, this is not some accidental, gee we have no idea what's going on in our family and the kids are in control family quark. It's the direct result of our family values, and what we believe really matters when raising small people to become the kind of big people you can stand to talk to at dinner. The most important thing for children to have is love. The most important thing for them to know is that they are loved. The most important thing for them to learn how to do? Put new toilet paper back on the empty roll damnit! No, love, by a small margin, wins again. All the choices we make for our children are defined by two main ideas:
Is this loving?
Does this teach them how to live?
Those two questions, for us, encompass discipline, integrity, compassion, coping mechanisms, perseverance- all of the good stuff. Life stuff. So when we have an 8 year old girl with a predisposition to biologically inherited anxiety ( Sorry, kid ) and truly stress producing circumstances ( C-Section, anxious mom, baby's hospitalization ) we made the choice to keep her where she felt safe and where she felt loved. What makes a person feel loved can be wildly different, as any married person can tell you. For me, it's eye contact, a tone of voice, help with the house. For Mr. Curry it's respecting his need for downtime, sex. For small kids, it's the way we transition them into this world. All of those things have one thing in common: feeling loved comes from being compassionately cared for in the places of our lives where we feel most vulnerable. From weaning to sleep to potty training to sixth grade camp, our kids look to us to be the safe place.
A good marriage, a happy marriage is crucial, and we balance our need for intimacy against the kids need for security and togetherness. Which brings me to shocking fact number 3 : When our kids are babies, we have sex in the room while they are sleeping, sometimes in the same bed. Or we used to. With Ever, this has changed. Whereas Lola used to lie there as an infant, oblivious and snoozing, when we tried to begin making out with Ever on the other side of our bed, we turned our heads to find her staring straight at us, gape mouthed. As Lola would say: awkward. We are a naked kind of family, with our kiddos watching us shower and pee until they are about 6 or 7, whenever they start to become uncomfortable. That is nature's biological signpost for those kind of transitions, the child's discomfort. When they start noticing and feeling embarrassed that they or you are naked, it's time to quit with the natural and get out the robe. Last week, Dakota ( 16 ) walked in the bedroom and I was nursing Ever. I didn't realize but part of my breast was hanging out. Dakota sat down next to me and said ' Mom, your boob is hanging out ' before he launched into a story about something that had happened at school. My kid has a good, healthy comfort level with the human body, male or female, that I think will serve him well for the rest of life.
Co-sleeping with babies is perfectly safe under most usual circumstances, despite what the American media would have you believe. Here are a few thoughts:
# mothers don't roll over on their babies under normal circumstances. think about this:
have you ever rolled over on a cat or dog sleeping with you and squished it? probably
not! abnormal circumstances include: obesity, drug or alcohol use, sleep disorders
or other physical problems that would make it less safe.
# a mother's heartbeat helps regulate the infant's entire and incompletely formed
nervous system. a mother's breathing and heartbeat help the infant from getting
into too deep of a sleep and stopping breathing- or SIDS. the mother's movements
and breathing help the baby to lightly arouse while sleeping.
# a mother's heartbeat, breath and scent are comforting to the baby.
babies in the womb are in a tiny, warm space with little or no room to move.
coming out into the big world with cool air and space everywhere is overwhelming.
# why do you want to sleep with your husband? ( or do you? :) outside of sex, it's
the intimacy. a mother and her baby have one of the most intimate relationships
a person will have in a lifetime, and being close together physically is a crucial part
of this. in a country where most of us moms have to work, co-sleeping becomes
the last place in our lives that is just about being together. not accomplishing anything
else other than togetherness and sleep.
Which brings me back to my family, to Mr. Curry and I. We give up our aloneness in bed
when we have a baby because we believe that our marriage is cared for well enough to survive
the temporary sleeping arrangements for the needs of our babies. Sex suffers for the first 3-5 months with every baby, and then heads back to normal territory with relief. We have an awesome sex life. I've heard many people say what about sex in reference to co-sleeping, to which I reply, Ever heard of @ early morning @ midnight @ after the baby falls asleep @ the bathroom @ the shower @ yougettheidea
Although Lola sleeps with us, she goes to Grandma Mary's on Saturday nights often, and other nights she's out on the couch while we lock the door for a while. We make it work. Soon, she'll be back in her bed. Until then, we won't ever look back and wish we'd done it any other way.
BIG MOTHERTRUCKING DISCLAIMER
I know this is one of those issues that can make people feel attacked. Which is why often, moms like me ( who do do the hot button issues like cosleep or extend nurse ) don't talk about it- because we don't want our enthusiasm for our beliefs and family life to be turned into an attack on other moms or other families. I'm not attacking anyone. I know that some babies HATE co-sleeping, that they fuss and fidgit and kick all night when someone else is there, even mom. I know that some people can't cosleep because they literally can't sleep. Etc. Yo. Haters gonna hate, and I'm not a hater. xo