Why we didn’t co-sleep, and why I kind of regret it

When I had Oscar, the hospital took great pains to communicate that they did not approve of co-sleeping. Either that or they didn’t approve of me, a plus size mama, co-sleeping with my baby. I don’t know what your experience of the NHS was (or even just RSCH), but I was told  that while they couldn’t tell me not to, how would I feel if fell asleep and ‘something happened’ and that it wasn’t worth the risk. I came home absolutely petrified of ever falling asleep even near him. Honestly, I remember an awful experience in those early days of waking up in bed, having drifted off and screaming blue murder because I couldn’t remember putting Oscar in his crib. My tired, petrified brain assumed I must have fallen asleep on top of him and the worst must have happened. As it was he was in his crib. Yes, a well placed comment to a super scared new mother really had done a job on me.

So we didn’t co-sleep. At all. Ever. It wasn’t until he was three that I started to allow myself to doze if he fell asleep on me while lying on the sofa. Sometimes I feel angry about that. Oscar is my only child and I feel like it’s a part of his babyhood I really missed out on. A bonding experience that we really should have had. Then, other times I think perhaps he wouldn’t have appreciated being in with us anyway. He is a good sleeper and has been since he was about 9 months old. When we explained this to his paediatrician, she was surprised, and attributed this to the clear bedtime routine he has had since he was tiny.

Either way, it’s something I’d never done. Until very recently.

A couple of weeks ago we went to Devon to see family. Oscar, the boy who is rarely ill, started throwing up about an hour into the journey and kept nothing down until he passed out in my sister in laws bed around 5pm. Poor dot. We decided not to move him and that I would sleep in with him and that Ben would take the ‘put you up’ bed in my nephew’s room next door. I have to admit I had mixed emotions going to bed that night. On the one hand I still felt a little scared, vestiges of old learnt behaviour I guess. But on the other hand I felt absolutely thrilled. It sounds so stupid, but I was just so excited that I was actually going to get to know what this ‘co-sleeping’ malarkey felt like. Even when he woke up bright as a button at 3.30am, I couldn’t be annoyed at him. Because he was there next to me. And when he’d watched the iPad for a while and then decided to wake me again at 6 because “I need hungry mummy”, I could do nothing but make him breakfast to eat in bed with me, while I sat there, in awe of him.

After he ate his breakfast (and kept it all down) he fell asleep again on my leg. I gently pulled him back up the bed and fell asleep with him in my arms. The way it should have been from day one. I felt a little sad that it had taken us so long to have this beautiful experience (and for him to be so ill) but I really was grateful it had happened at all and I can see why some people rave about it.

We did it again the next night at Oscar’s insistence and yes I did get a hand in the face and a kick in the thigh in the night. And the amount of space a little body can take up in an comparatively enormous bed was baffling (Ben says O sleeps like me!) and I couldn’t see it ever working with all three of us in the bed. But I’m just so grateful we got to experience it at all. Really, the only way I can describe it is magical!

Even if he did wake me by lifting my eyelid and asking “You wanna build a snowmaaaaaan”

 

When you’re having fun…

We’ve been sorting through some old photos and videos this week. When I say old, they’re all of Oscar, so in fact not a one of them is older than 18 months. Yes, 18 months. Oscar will be 18 months on 2nd October. No I cant quite believe it either.

Anyway back to the pictures. As with most children these days Oscar is one photographed baby. Which child isn’t, with the advent of the camera phone? Last week I realised I was carrying over 1000 photos just on my Camera Roll alone. I had to download and delete hundreds, just to make space for the new IOS7. Ben also found some on his phone, ones I’d not seen before. Here was this tiny little baby, completely dependent and utterly different to the self assured toddler I have running round my legs now. I wont lie to you, it put me in rather a reflective mood.

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Oscar – two weeks old

Sometimes I wish I could go back and do his early days over again, but this time with the confidence I have now. I wouldn’t cry myself to pieces, when he refused to breast feed. I wouldn’t have evil dreams about my milk coming back in (sometimes as black as oil) and me trying to feed him again, when it dried up at 4 weeks. I wouldn’t beat myself up about leaving the room to have a drink or food or a wee. I would do this, I wouldn’t do that. Blah blah blah. Hindsight it a wonderful thing and I think most new mothers experience it in some way or another – its probably natures way of encouraging women to have more children.

But I can’t go back and wishing I’d done this or that really isn’t very helpful. He is who he is, because of how we managed the last 18 months. I came to the conclusion a while ago that Oscar will always find his own rhythm, and he really does. Guidelines are only ever that and, as a friend pointed out the other day, are really aimed at the lowest common denominator. You have to find a way to trust your own instincts as a mother (although I know I’ve had times when I’ve gone against my better judgement, and kicked myself for it later!). The only way you can move forward is by learning from the mistakes you make. It’s such a mean system – why cant things just go right first time round?!

Where am I going with this? I don’t really know, other than I sat and watched Oscar play and dance and run around in front of me yesterday and it made me cry. I’m so happy that he’s growing up to be a such a healthy, strong and sparky little man, a real character. Its all I ever wanted for my baby. But sometimes it breaks my heart when I see flashes of the boy he is becoming.

I was trying to take some photos of the clock this morning, all restored and gleaming, when I noticed the Latin on the face;

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Tempus Fugit – Time Flies

It certainly does.

 

 

Diary of an Imperfect Mum: Flashback Friday