My reasons for co-sleeping have changed along with the needs. Originally, it was because Miss K had a nasty ear infection and was not sleeping well, and was nursing around the clock. Every nursing mom knows just how convenient it is to breastfeed and co-sleep- everyone gets more rest. My feet never hit the floor throughout the night. After the ear infection, and I learned this Great Convenience, it became more for survival then anything. She was nursing every 2 hours nightly. Now, at 8 months of age, that has changed of course. To every 3 hours. Some might argue that she would nurse less at night if it was not readily available for her grubby little fingers to reach up and rudely grab, twist, and pinch until she was served. But I really don't mind.
I don't think it is cliche for me to say that time flies by so quickly that I want to savor every moment of this time. I have an 18.5 year old (or a 222 month old for those women who incessantly count months waaaayyyy beyond a reasonable time frame in hopes that their 5 year old will just stop aging. Ever run into these moms? "My Tommy is 54 months now and we are trying..." that irks me. Anyways. ) So I know that high school is thisclose to pre-school.
Not only do I know how fast this time goes, but I also know just how long I waited for this little angel. We tried for 5 years, on an off. Even during those off times, we were never protecting from pregnancy, just not going to the doctor for blood tests, ultrasounds, exams and consultations. We had just about given up hope. Little did I know that the day of graduation from nursing school was the perfectly planned timing that was set for us. I could not have planned it better myself. I could NOT imagine focusing on 90 page papers and careplans and final exams while pregnant. So when K came, I was ready for her. I was ready for time to slow to a halt so I can just breath her in and truly enjoy every single moment.
And so far, I have. 8 months of every single day and every single night. I thought about trying to get her back in her bed at about 6 months. Every night I would tell my husband that we need to "prepare for the hard work that would be coming". And every night that thought made me sad. Why would I make a decision that would make me sad, K sad, and lose sleep all in 1 fell swoop? So I let it go.
It was not until this morning that I fully realized my true reason for co-sleeping. I did not find it in statistics, or research, or convenience. K told me in her silly, drooly, lovable way. Most babies that sleep in cribs have a way of letting mom know they are awake. They cry, mom hears baby cry, and mom goes in to get the baby. It works. I will not agrue that this crying is harmful for the baby (it isn't) nor will I say that this crying has "long-lasting psychological effects" (it doesn't). I will tell though what my mornings are like.
K wakes up and rolls over. She looks at me, and I pretend to be sleeping. She knows better. Her grin is ear to ear as she crawls up on to my chest and starts poking my eyes. If Daddy is home, she goes for his ears. Or cell phone. She really would like the cell-phone. But it is all smiles. She wakes up every day with smiles. I would not give that up for anything. In this sweet girl's childhood, I want to capture every smile I can. I don't want to miss one.
Those smiles make it all worthwhile. The arm going numb in the night because of the position I am forced to sleep in, the rude awakenings as she gets more demanding, the fact that I might "never get her out of my bed" when she gets older (I suspect I will enjoy her morning smiles just as much then.), all completely worth it.
So our co-smiling relationship will continue, and I will savor every moment, every morning, every smile. I would not give it up for anything. This is motherhood in its rawest, most organic beauty. I am in love in the truest sense, and it is incredibly rewarding down to Every. Last. Smile.