You’ve never paid attention to how creaky your hardwood floors are until you have a sleeping baby. Also, if you co-sleep, you’re lucky to leave your baby sleeping in the room without waking him/her. It doesn’t matter if your floor is made of noiseless carpet woven of the finest materials such as the rare silk-thread of the Golden Orb Weaver Spider (ew), Egyptian cotton, or my personal favorite—cotton candy. It’s just not happening. My 15-month-old daughter, Penelope, somehow knows when I’m not by her side, and our floors make it so much harder to escape her sleeping side in order to do anything.
For anyone who is a parent, or is thinking of becoming one, you have probably researched all of the variations of co-sleeping as well as doing what most people do, which is to sleep-train your baby in their own crib. When my husband and I found out we were pregnant it never crossed our minds to co-sleep, as it is highly frowned upon in most of the medical community, and is considered dangerous and controversial by many. When our daughter finally came, it felt instinctual for me to have her so close, and it also made nursing her during the night so much easier. It felt right, and I went with my “motherly” gut (the gut that also happened to still look pregnant) to have our daughter sleep in our bed. I loved all the cuddles I got from my daughter, even though they were accompanied by the occasional kick to the face or little tiny fingers being shoved up my nose. Co-sleeping isn’t for everyone, and I am not here to persuade anyone to co-sleep or to not co-sleep, but simply to share how this practice has affected my relationship with my husband, God, and myself, because believe it or not, it completely has.
If you’re thinking about co-sleeping, let me be the first to say that it is a very huge commitment, and it will affect your relationships. When we started to sleep with our baby instead of training her to sleep in her crib, we never thought it would truly affect our time together. My husband and I are night owls. We would bond and spend most of our time in the evening after dinner talking, watching movies, and sometimes even reading books together. When we found out we were pregnant we became even closer, sharing the joy of this life we unexpectedly created and would have the pleasure of raising. We would spend the evenings well into the night reminiscing and dreaming about life with our new baby, becoming closer than we ever had before only to have that change drastically after our baby would come. Everyone knows that having a baby changes things, but co-sleeping has made it especially difficult to spend quality time with my husband, myself, and most importantly God.
When you sleep with your baby, every time she goes to sleep she gets used to having you there by her side. She expects it, and becomes dependent on it. If you aren’t there, she will cry because her form of comfort is gone. If you are there when she falls asleep and not there when she stirs or wakes up briefly, she wails and cries until her comfort returns. This is why my relationships have become difficult to maintain. I’m just being real here. I have chosen the road less-traveled-- the road with little tiny pebbles that get into your shoes, and the path that has quick-sand, and falling rocks, and sharknados, and invisible cob-webs that get on your face when you walk straight into them. Co-sleeping has its benefits and wonderful moments I will cherish for the rest of my life, but at the expense of time spent with those who mean the most to me. Essentially, I am chained to my baby (figuratively with a brightly colored plastic baby-approved chain) without the freedom that most other new parents have of sharing their evenings together once their baby is asleep for the night. Don’t get me wrong, every baby is different and responds differently, but with my daughter this is how it has been. She won’t even cuddle with Daddy at night. It has to be me. While other parents are watching movies together or even sharing a quiet night with their friends, I am in bed before I am even tired looking at my phone. Again, please understand that I am not bitter or angry, but just trying to be transparent when I say how much this one decision that seemed so small has affected my life. Even when we got our nighttime routine down, we still were very limited in how we could spend our time together. I have the Bible app on my phone, but it’s just not the same trying to lay in bed reading a bright screen that I can’t feel in my hands or highlight or make my own personal notes. My time with the Lord has suffered because I can’t have me-time alone and away from everyone to unwind and focus on God.
I know. I know. You’re probably wondering why we don’t just try to get her to sleep in her crib, and stop letting our baby control us. That’s a lot easier to say than actually doing those things, so we are going to start trying to change it up in the near future. Also, we have started doing other things that will allow us to spend more time together as well as give me time to myself. To make things easier for you, here is a list of what we are doing to “help” us have more time together, alone, and with God.
I wish you could see my husband and I creeping around the house trying not to wake our baby in the rare event that our ninja-moves allow us to leave her side after she has fallen asleep. I know that in this time of our lives we have been tested and tried because of our decision to co-sleep, but I know we will also walk away from this knowing how important it is to invest in our relationships with each other, God, friends, and ourselves. Our daughter is one of our biggest priorities, but she’s not the only one.
Whether it is because of kids in our lives or otherwise, we have all found ourselves in a place where our time is limited. What are ways you stay connected with God, our spouse/family/friends, and yourself? Any co-sleepers and fellow creepers out there?
• Wife • Stay-at-home-mom • Oompa-loompa and chocolate connoisseur • in ministry • songbird • coffee snob • hoo-billy (Indiana-born, Kentucky native) • Dutch-blitzer • culture-lover • Settlers of Catan • Harry Potter fan • guilty pleasure: crime shows and thrillers.
Connect with Hannah on Instagram (@hannahthepicton).