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Of Love and Co-Sleeping

Posted by on October 17, 2014
How can I say no to this face?!

How can I say no to this face?!

No, I haven’t dropped off the face of the Earth. I’ve just been busy adjusting to and enjoying life with our new baby. Oh yeah, the pretty girl in the photo to the left is Eleanor Bernadette. We call her “Ella” for short. She was born on September 26. ūüôā

Just as with all three siblings who preceded her in infancy, she ostensibly spends her nights in a “sidecar” co-sleeper bassinet. I say “ostensibly”, because more often that not she ends up sleeping on my chest or next to me in my bed.¬†We try to put her¬†“back to sleep” in the sidecar, but she wriggles and cries – louder and louder – instead of falling asleep. We’ve tried swaddling, shushing, singing, and basically any other trick we’ve heard of in our 6 years of parenting – to no avail. She doesn’t want to sleep alone. She wants a snuggle buddy.

All of our kids have gone through this to varying degrees. I think it’s because they’re used to the snuggly warmth of being close to a person they had in utero. So, whereas the sidecar only made us “sort of” co-sleepers, our children have persuaded us to be bona fide bed-sharing co-sleepers.

Reluctantly.

It’s not that we’re opposed to bed-sharing, per se. It’s just that we’d rather not do it. First of all, we know from experience that my wife can’t do it. She sleeps too deeply for either of us to feel that the baby’s completely safe. That means I have to do it. This is problematic in that it requires precautionary changes in how I use blankets and pillows, as well as for me to sleep on my back. The former can be a nuisance, but it’s not really a big deal. The latter can be a royal pain. The problem is that I only sleep on my back with great difficulty.

My grandmother had, and my mother has, very bad restless legs syndrome. I believe I have inherited a milder case. It only seems to bother me when I’m exceptionally exhausted or if I try to sleep on my back. In the wee hours of the morning, when I’ve just rolled my eyes and bobbed my head through a feeding and Ella’s fighting sleep, you can bet I’m pretty darn exhausted, and if I have to let her sleep with me, I have to sleep on my back. So, that’s why I’d rather no share my bed. I’m not opposed to it in principle; I’d just much rather be snugly wrapped up in blankets, comfortably sleeping on my stomach.

The picture above was taken a few¬†nights ago at 3 AM, right after I tried to leave¬†her in the sidecar to sleep. She hadn’t even started crying or screaming when I took this picture. Instead, she just looked at me with a sad face – wide eyes, eyebrows arched away from her nose – that seemed to say, “Please, Daddy, don’t make me sleep here alone. I want to feel safe¬†and cozy¬†with you.”

And in that moment I gave in. My heart melted, someone apparently started cutting onions, and I said, “Of course you can sleep with me, sweetheart. I love¬†you.”