Hold on, don't click off my page just yet!!! I know co-sleeping is not for everyone. In fact, I know some folks are violently opposed to it, but it is the best way we have found to survive this crazy phenomenon called "attachment" and live to tell the tale. I know that you all love to hear the gory details of our world of mayhem and this is how we spend a large chunk of each 24 hours.
I guess you might say at the Wood house we do a lot of sleeping around. (Hee Hee Hee)
First of all, NO, all eight of do not sleep in the same bed. But some nights it does feel pretty stinkin' crowded.
First off there is our constant companion, Grace. Grace has been co-sleeping with us since she first came home. Initially, we had her in a crib at the foot of our bed. I would walk her and walk her and walk her and finally when she was sound asleep in my arms, I would attempt to lay her gently in the crib..... and she would instantly shoot back to fully awake and screaming. I quickly realized that if she was not in my arms, she was not going to sleep, and neither was I. Since my job required that I get up each morning at about 5:30am, I definitely needed to get some rest. So we tucked her in between us in the king size bed and never looked back. Ahhhh, finally, all 3 of us got some rest. Now it didn't happen over night. Grace is a kid who has had a lot of sleep issues. She was a very light sleeper, she could not sleep in a completely dark room, and even on a good night she thrashed around like she was on fire. As she has gotten older is a little better able to articulate her severe fear of the dark and fear of ever being alone. These are things that are just hard wired into her from her 9 months in an institution.
At times is has been frustrating and I don't think we expected her to still be needing to co-sleep with us. We figured at some point she would be ready to move to her own room, her own bed, and we would have a few nights of Grace-free sleep. In fact, just before Christmas we did have several weeks. But there always seems to be a set back or transition or milestone, that sends her back to the safety of Mama and Daddy's bedroom. She is still severely afraid of the dark, still very sensitive. She still moans and thrashes around in her sleep if she's had a tough day. But on a good night she sleeps like a baby, not like when she actually was a baby. Someday she'll be ready to move out, but for right now I don't mind at all curling up next to her and holding her hand until she falls asleep. If this is what she needs to feel safe and loved then that's what we'll give her.
We have usually had one or two more kiddos in the room at different times for different reasons. When we first came home with the boys they were both in cribs in our room. Same with the girls. Manny got kicked out pretty early on because he would wake up almost hourly. After a few months of that we had to move him out because it was effecting my ability to drive myself to work in the mornings. Caffeine couldn't keep up. So Manny and Brian moved into another room. Part of the problem with Manny's sleep was a skin condition that had the poor little guy itching and itching on his feet and ankles. It went on for months. The other issue seemed to be that he was uncontrollably hungry. He would take 3 or 4 eight ounce bottles a night of formula. If you've seen him lately you know that our 2 year old mega toddler is wearing size 4 clothes. Obviously, his body had some nutritional catching up to do. After about 6 months Manny was finally sleeping through the night. By then we were able to move him and JoJo into the boys room to sleep together.
That worked out great for about a year. We would put them in bed together lying toe to toe and each morning when we went to get them up they would be cuddled up, foreheads together. Then suddenly one day JoJo discovered what fun it was to jack with Manny as soon as the lights were turned out. He'd steal Manny's blanket or sippy cup, he'd whack Manny upside the head with shoes. He'd sit on poor Manny's face.
So finally Manny got a room to himself and JoJo moved in with us. This was around the same time that JoJo's sleep apnea was getting to really be a problem. In the weeks before his surgery we felt better having him in the room with us because he was doing so much gasping in his sleep. Then after surgery he felt so puny that he really needed the extra cuddling and attention. But you know what--his behavior has been sooooo much better. We're not sure if it was the surgery, which allowed him to sleep better, or the co-sleeping, which has given him a lot more one on one time, but whatever it is, the new and improved JoJo has been quite a relief!
The girls also took a turn sleeping with us when they first came home. Kat has always slept like a dream and she's not old enough to realize that she's missing out on the big party in Mama's room, so she sleeps in the girls room with no trouble at all. Louise used to sleep in there with her, but Louise TALKS A LOT! For a good hour after putting her to bed she will still be babbling away, so we had to split them up because Louise was keeping Kat up at night. We traded Manny and Louise, so on most nights Manny and Kat are in the girls room and Louise is by herself, but still talking up a storm, in the boys room.
Now we always make allowances for kids that are sick, kids that are fussy, kids that just need a little extra something for some reason. For instance a couple weeks ago, Grace and JoJo were in the king size with us, Haven was on the twin size trundle squeezed next to my side of the bed and Louise was in a crib at the foot of the bed. Louise had a terrible cough and a terrible case of the grumpies. Today she skipped her nap and is zonked out in her regular bed. Tomorrow night, who knows!
The biggest drawback (and I'm sure some of you readers have already thought of this) is that Brian and I don't run into each other too often at night, if you know what I mean. Three's a crowd etc, etc. And there are no spare bedrooms in our cozy 3 bedroom house. So we definitely have had to be creative and use our time wisely! (wink wink)
But quite frankly, if I had a bigger bedroom, I'd move in a few more mattresses and bring in the other three kids. I love to hear them all sleeping, all their different breathing patterns and soft snores. I love not having to stumble all over the house in the dark if someone wakes up scared and needs a little pat on their back. And I love waking up to all their beautiful little bedheads in the morning.
I know, I know, I'm sure you get tired of hearing it, but I just can't get enough of my kids!!!
So co-sleeping may not be for you, but you might be surprised by the positive effects it can have on your kids. I know now that all of our kids have needed at different times and for slightly different reasons. One thing I know for sure is that each of my kids have suffered the trauma of losing their birth mother. Even though they are not old enough to consciously understand that fact, they little brains have forever been effected by that loss. If co-sleeping can do even a little bit to ease that pain and repair that trauma, then it is the least we can do as their parents.
For anyone interested in doing a little more research, you can read an interesting article about why co-sleeping is good for a child's brain.