The first night Tye was born, the three of us cuddled together on our queen-sized bed in the birthing center and slept skin-to-skin. Co-sleeping wasn't something Tyler and I talked about. I had thought about it, but I decided we would do whatever came naturally when Tye came home (perhaps that decision was a decision to co-sleep, but I didn't know it then). When it came time for us to go to bed for the first time at home, Tyler said definitively, "She's sleeping with us tonight." Ever since then, we've been co-sleeping.
For the first few weeks of her life, Tye's breathing was sometimes irregular, which is apparently normal for newborns but scary for parents regardless. Not only did Tye's position asleep atop my chest those first weeks comfort me by confirming she was still breathing, but co-sleeping is actually proven to help regulate an infant's breathing and heart rate, as well as body temperature. Even now that her breathing is normal, I still worry constantly about Tye choking. I've never talked to other parents whose children dealt with this, but Tye actually chokes sometimes when she spits up as the milk fills her throat and nostrils. At times, Tye has gone 20 to 30 seconds without being able to take a breath. This happens probably five or six times a week. By holding her upright and tilted forwards, and sometimes using the bulb syringe, we can help Tye clear her airways and breathe again. But what if we don't know that she's choking? Often when this happens, Tye is completely silent, unable to pass air in or out. By sleeping with Tye on my chest or face-to-face on our sides, I know I'll have the best chance of waking if she chokes. So far, every time Tye has had one of these episodes in the middle of the night, I wake up either just as it starts or a minute or two before it starts. Call it what you will-- mother-child bond, maternal instinct, or Divine Intervention-- I am forever grateful that she's beside me when it happens. Co-sleeping has kept me sane through the nights.
Hands down, the best part of co-sleeping is the cuddle time. Waking next to her squirmy little limbs and smiley face in the morning is wonderful. In the mornings, we cuddle and play for a few minutes until she's ready to eat, and then she has her breakfast in our cozy, toasty bed. I feel like we're very intimately bonded because she's with me all day long, every day. By the time she wakes up from her long mid-day nap (which she takes in her cradle, thank God for video monitors), I really miss her. I can't imagine sleeping away from her all night long. Co-sleeping has such clear benefits for children, but I think it's helping me as much as it is Tye.
The down side of co-sleeping? Leaked diapers mean changing the sheets and mattress pad on a much, much bigger bed, as happened yesterday. I had to wash the sheets and the down-alternative mattress pad. On the topic of laundry, can I share my new favorite laundry product? I found these Nellie's Dryer Balls at the Crate and Barrel Outlet a while ago and am loving them.
Along with our Charlie's Soap, which we started using for cloth diapers but I love for all our laundry, these Nellie's leave our laundry soft and just slightly scented of natural lavender (not too much for my still-sensitive-as-a-pregnant-woman sense of smell). Of course, I would prefer not to use my dryer for energy-saving reasons, but unfortunately, winters in Chicago just don't lend themselves to line-drying items.
Anyway, I washed everything and put it back on our bed and we enjoyed nice clean sheets last night.... and I realized that I would change the sheets on our bed every day if it meant Tye could sleep with me every night.
Not that I want to, but I would.