When my oldest son was born I had lots of ideas in my head of how parenthood was going to be. I thought it would be easy to breastfeed. I thought he would be happy unless he was hungry, tired or wet. I thought he’d sleep in his crib from Day 1. I thought he’d sleep through the night after a couple of months. I thought it would be amazing, emotional, tiring and overwhelming all at the same time.
I was right about some of these. Wrong about others. Especially the sleeping. Boy was I wrong.
Logan was never a good sleeper from the day he was born. I heard parents talking about how their babies would sleep long naps throughout the day and then as they got older, started sleeping longer stretches through the night. I would look at them with a confused look on my face having no idea what they were talking about. Sleep was not something that came easily to Logan. He would fight his naps, and then sleep for 20 minutes. And we’d repeat this cycle all day long. At night, he’d fight his sleep, wake up several times during the night and then be up for the day at 6am. I can count on one hand the number of times he slept through the night, or even for more than 6 hours straight, during his first year. We were exhausted.
The one way I knew Logan would sleep long stretches is when he was laying next to us. I could get 8-10 hour stretches out of him this way, but I didn’t want to get in the habit of co-sleeping. However, when you are desperate for sleep, you forget about the expectations you once had.
Fast forward to today – Logan is almost four years old now and guess what? We still co-sleep. There are two groups of people who react when I tell them we co-sleep. The first group nods, emphasizes and tell us “you do what works for your family and what allows you all to get some sleep.” Then the other group constantly asks when he’s going to sleep in his own bed and if we are worried about him never sleeping on his own.
The truth is, I never imagined that we would ever co-sleep when we had Logan. But now, having co-slept for a few years, I’ve found that these are the most special times him and I have together. When we’re not too tired, Logan and I will find ourselves making shadow animals on the walls and ceilings in the bedroom. We’ll play ‘This Little Piggy’ over and over and over again. He’ll talk about his day, who got in trouble at school, and what his favorite thing was that happened. These are often the times he’ll open up to me about things that almost 4-year-olds need to talk about (i.e. the elephants that hide under his bed, how much he loves his little brother, if I’ll make him sausage for breakfast in the morning). He’ll snuggle right up next to me, get under my blanket, head on my pillow, drape his arm around me, give me a big hug and an Eskimo kiss goodnight. I cherish these moments and rituals with him because I know one day, sometime very soon, he’ll want to sleep in his big boy bed and it won’t ever be the same.
I hope one day, when Logan gets a little older, he’ll remember our nightly rituals and still ask to do them as I tuck him into his own bed, give him an Eskimo kiss goodnight, turn the light off and return to my room. For now though, I’ll hold on tight to these moments – even the ones that involve feet in my face or a kick to my back. Or that one horrible night I was awoken by him projectile vomiting all over our bed and me, but that’s a story for another day.
What nighttime rituals do you share with your kids? Or do you remember your parents doing with you?