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”

 

We are the Mothers…

We are the mothers who’s babies seemed perfect at birth.

We are the mothers whose babies always cried. Or didn’t cry at all.

We are the mothers who felt our tiny ones pull away rather than nuzzle in.

We are the mothers who came to expect little eye contact and worked so hard for every smile.

We are the mothers who watched. And waited.

We are the mothers who swallowed our fear and guilt and told a professional we had concerns.

We are the mothers who have had our lips cut, our eyes split, our cheeks bruised, our hearts broken by violent melt downs.

We are the mothers that keep a tally of information and a raft of professionals names on the tips of our tongues.

We are the mothers who’s children have not slept. And those who do are kept awake reading articles and researching and writing documents and filling out forms. And worrying.

We are the mothers who work so hard for every good experience their child has, wherever it might be. However small it may seem.

And yet

We are the mothers who are stared at, tutted at, passed judgement on.

We are the mothers who are treated badly at the school gates. Or within them.

We are the mothers who’s children, the ones we work so hard for, are not appreciated. Or included. Because they are not ‘good’.

We are the mothers of autistic children.

We’re dealing with more than you could ever believe.

Just to be the mothers we never imagined.

 

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Ignorance is bliss….

I’m sat here. I’m trying I get some work done, a bit of writing in the hour or so I have left before I need to collect Oscar from preschool. Because I have nowhere comfortable to work at home and because the walk to preschool and back doesn’t make going home worth it, I’m in a local coffee shop. Who am I kidding I’m in the ice cream shop. And doing what I do every week.

When I came in the place was empty, but a group of three obviously very new mothers have just come in. They’re probably NCT or antenatal group friends. I remember doing something similar when I had just had Oscar. They chat excitedly about sleep and feeding and house prices (well this is Surrey after all). The pride in their little ones and their new status as mamas clear. And it makes me sigh.

I remember bits about Oscar being this small. I remember going for coffee and being able to drink a whole cup with my girls without Oscar making a noise. I remember the excited chattering about how much sleep we’d had, the latest things our babies had done and about this whole new world we were just starting discovering.

But I also remember how hard it was. The panic in all of our eyes when we were unsure of what was going on (which was much of the time), the lack of sleep, the fear, the dread that we, that I, was getting it all, all wrong.

I remember mothers, experienced mothers, telling me to enjoy how portable my baby was at that age. I just remember thinking they were barmy! Thinking ‘look how much stuff he needs. How is this portable?’ But they were right. He was. I could just pick him up (along with a bulging changing bag) and just go. Anywhere.

I’m sat here listening to these women (one of who has pretty impressive mascara on, and coordinated clothes! Who is this super woman?) and I want to tell them. Yell at them, to enjoy this time. Tell them that whatever they’re doing they’re NOT doing it wrong and to just enjoy it. Enjoy the meet ups, relax in the company of other new mamas and bask in the ignorance of what’s to come. I think perhaps that’s what I miss the most. The ignorance of how hard this journey was going to be.

I could, but I won’t. They wouldn’t listen even if I did. Why would they? I didn’t.

They say first time motherhood, when you have nothing to do but love and look after your baby is wasted on the scared, fearful and unconfident first time mother and there is truth in those words.

So here’s my plea to you. Mama’s enjoy your babies, because they won’t be babies for long.

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Mummascribbles

 

Advice From The Heart