Entangled in a bed-sharing relationship with the small one, I have been following the comments on blue milk’s wondering post with rapt attention. Sharing our bed with small didn’t sneak up on us, like I know it does with some families. We planned for it long in advance. Much like with breastfeeding, I could envision all the heavenly closeness, the intimacy, not to mention the convenience of a family bed. At the end of pregnancy, as I lay curled around my weighty belly, I longed for the nights I would be curled around my baby, close enough to breathe in his warm-hay scent. And much like with breastfeeding I could picture it all so clearly, right up to the point of small being about six months old.
The beloved and I had thought ahead to some of the more practical concerns, like where small would sleep during the day when he outgrew the family bassinet and where he would begin his night’s sleep when his bedtime became earlier than ours. But we hadn’t ever wondered how either of us would sleep either side of a baby whose idea of resettling is not to sigh ever so gently and turn over, but to crawl up to the headboard, cling on to it and bounce loudly up and down, before falling onto my head. A baby who thinks our pillows are to beach himself on after a vigorous session of kick-off-the-doona. A baby who thinks 3am is as good a time as any to headbutt you into startling wakefulness.
We’d never planned for when small would depart the family bed. We’ve had the occasional flirtation with separate sleeping – trying the resettling in his cot post night feed thing, the sleeping in a different room thing, the resettling without a night feed thing. We haven’t tried these things to really end bed-sharing, though, but to break a pattern of constant feeding or constant waking. Mostly bed-sharing is still working for us. There are heart-melting moments, like the rare times when small lies down next to me, clutches my little finger and falls asleep as fast as a fingersnap. There is the simplicity of night feeding a baby who can pretty much organise it himself now. And there’s the ease of resettling the fratchy bladder-kicker when I don’t actually have to be vertical to do it.
I guess I have the vague thought that small will be out of our bed by the time the next baby comes along. A thought so sufficiently vague it doesn’t come with any type of plan attached. The anticipation of enacting any plan, with the near-certainty of wailing, sleeplessness and angst, is immediately sapping. But I know that, one day, something will have to change. Secretly, I dream of small just up and saying ‘Mamas, it’s been a hoot, but that bed of mine is looking mighty fine. See you in the morning. Not too bright and early now!’ Who knows? That could be his first speech. Like one of the commenters over at blue milk, all the chat about 5-9 year olds bed-sharing is making me a teeny bit nervous. On the other hand, there are some great comments about older kids bed-sharing with each other, which is a spark of hope. What to do? What to do? Probably procrastinate a little while longer. Watch this space.