So the thing is, I know I said I was going to write a whole bunch about parenting and all of my views and philosophies, and I never did. I started to...many times. In fact I have pages and pages of word documents about breast-feeding and co-sleeping and loving and nurturing your children. But I just couldn't get it to come out sounding right. And this stuff is important to me, so I want to get it right.
I was worried I'd sound preachy. I was worried I'd offend someone. I was worried I'd be misunderstood. And I was worried that subjects I hold near and dear to my heart would become debated and polarizing, and that's not what I wanted.
What I wanted was to explain about how I love being a mother. How in mothering I have chosen to follow what feels natural and right for my child and our family. How I respect books and other sources of information, while at the same time feel frustrated by the fear of not doing it all perfectly, they can sometimes create in mothers. (How awkward was that sentence...hopefully you get my point.) How there is more than one way of doing things right, and how we really really shouldn't be afraid to listen to our inner mother voice. We all have one...even the most reluctantly maternal of us.
And here is where I want to speak a little bit about co-sleeping. I have written pages and pages about this...answering lots of questions about the "how's" of it all. I promise I will post that (someday) I am not promising when. But I just wanted to say a little bit about it here because it kind of illustrates the main point I'd hoped to make in bringing all this up in the first place, and one that stirs in my thoughts daily.
So why do we co-sleep? I guess I have thought about all of the potential benefits vs. downsides to the whole issue--things that might appear in studies. But really, when it comes right down to it...none of that stuff really factors in to it for us.
The bottom line for me is that babies belong with their mothers. That's it. That's what I feel. That's what is for us. And to me that means in the day as well as in the night (and by the way, and maybe obviously, my husband is on board with all of this too).
What I want to say about co-sleeping is that it wasn't something that I necessarily set out to do as part of any predetermined set of parenting ideals (in fact I sort of hate that its even called "co-sleeping"...like its so outside the norm that it needs an official title). The truth is that while Avery slept in a little bassinet right next to me for her first months of life, I assumed that at some point she'd move into her own crib in her room we'd made for her down the hall. But as she got older, the thought of changing our little nightly getting-ready-for-bed routine to include leaving her alone in a dark room across the hall just seemed...not ideal to me (this is one of those places where I worry I will offend someone...please don't be!). I just felt like our little family should be together, and the only reason I considered putting her in a crib in her own room was because it just seemed like the thing that you were supposed to do. And actually, there were a few months were I'd start off the night putting her in her crib, and I'd just sleep in the bed in her room and by morning she'd be in bed with me anyway. We love our time together at night. Its the best time of our whole day. We're all there, clean and warm. We talk. We play. We cuddle. We nurse. We just are. Together. And for us...there is just no time that happens in the bustle of the day that compares with that. It's Yin and Yang. Our evening and night time is just part our little eco-system...although it took some evolving to get to that point. The thing is...the process of deciding to co-sleep had really nothing to do with deciding to co-sleep. It had everything to do with deciding that I could trust what felt right for us. Co-sleeping was just the natural by-product of that.
I know that people have all kinds of reasons why having their baby sleep with them wouldn't work. I am not certain that it will always work for us. But what I have learned is to stop setting artificial deadlines and expectations about that kind of thing. We'll just figure it out as we go. And I know...with out a doubt, its going to be just fine.
And here's where I bear my soul.
I relish my little girl. I try my hardest to soak her in every day. Each look she gives, each new voice inflection, or word, or question. I just breathe it. And I don't want a break from it. The way I see it-- life is uncertain, and if I can have 8 more hours a day of her...I'll gladly take it. And really, really...what else is there?
And that's it. I just miss her too much to put her in her own bed. And it turns out, she did not become a crazy, mal-adjusted monster. She is perfectly sweet and happy and well. And we are too.
So the point of all this was not to convince you to co-sleep with your baby. The point was to give you maybe a little more courage to trust yourself in your mothering journey. Don't make decisions based on fear. Be guided by love and your children's needs, and things will work out wonderfully. Even if it didn't say so in a book.
*POST EDIT: After reading some of the comments responding to this post I wanted to make something really clear. I don't think that co-sleeping is right for everyone, nor do I think that it makes you a better parent. I know LOTS of parents who are just as caring, nurturing, in-tune and bonded with their babies who don't co-sleep. In fact the majority of them don't. The point of this blog wasn't to say that if you are good parent, then you should come to the same conclusions about parenting as I have. The point was to say that there are MANY ways to be a good parent and that we should have the courage to do the things that feel right for us. In writing about my experience with co-sleeping, I hoped to illustrate this point, as well as give some insight into it for people who may be considering it as an option, but are afraid based on negative examples or false information. For me, at this point in our lives, it works. And I love it. But it is also one small facet of our life and our family, and parenting like most things in life is a growing and changing thing. I think through examples of others, and personal growth and insight we evolve (hopefully) and I am just trying to contribute to that dialogue. I really appreciate everyone's comments and differing perspectives. That's the whole point!