Tuesday, November 20, 2007

"Co-Sleeping"? Are you SERIOUS?

My friend and her husband are having a baby. They were supposed to have a baby last Sunday (the 11th) , but she just doesn’t seem to want to be born so they’re inducing on Thanksgiving. In her years of dealing with infertility, my friend has idealized the idea of being a mother, having a child, and I fear she’s in for a rude awakening. From her comments at the baby shower “they can’t possibly poop that much!” or “that will be a snap!” to certain commentary she makes on her blog, I worry that she may be walking blindly into it. I hope she’s just putting on an air of cockiness because if she’s not, the reality of having a baby is going to hit her hard.

One thing that really kind of freaked me out more than their plans to use cloth diapers, make their own baby food and be overall perfect parents 100% of the time with no complaints because raising a kid is not that hard—other moms are just big complainers, is that they don’t have a crib. Yup. No crip. They’re co-sleeping.

Because having a baby isn’t 24/7 enough apparently.

Isn’t it bad enough that having a baby zaps your romantic energy? That you’re already spending every waking moment with the child. Now you’re going to bring that child into your bed? I can’t imagine where one might think this is a good idea. Every mother needs a break from their child. If they don’t take a break once in awhile they’re in danger of losing their own identity outside of “mother” (and many mothers will likely argue that this is something that’s perfectly alright with them). I place a great deal of value on my personal time and space and can’t imagine NEVER being alone. Because that’s the life you doom yourself to if you’re co-sleeping without even the OPTION of putting the baby down without you because you don’t have a crib!

There’s a lot about motherhood’s appeal that eludes me, but this takes it one step further. … I started to type here that “there are elements of motherhood that are appealing”, but there really aren’t to me. Sure, having a 5-year-old might be kind of cool once in awhile, but not 24/7, but babies? Everyone else can keep their babies because I don’t want one. And while babies themselves and the inherent commitment is terrifying enough, absolutely nothing about a co-sleeping arrangement sounds appealing to me. It sounds downright scary.


M said...

I never heard of this arrangement till recently (past couple years). When I was younger, I don't think it was as common (or maybe I just never heard of it). Either way no one I know in my family was raised that way, so it's a very foreign concept to me. I wonder if historically this has been done in other cultures or if it's a new modern method of child raising. I feel like modern parenting is def. different from when I was a child and I'm sure quite different from the generations before that!

Anonymous said...

I don't think this is new and modern at all. Put into perspective, cribs and separate bedrooms are actually the new and modern thing. Human beings need contact. Personally, I think sharing a bed with the baby is probably better for the baby's sense of well-being, a bonding experience, and if not, then it certainly won't hurt anyone.

Emily said...

While I typically love your blog, this post just felt very very judgmental to me. I also am childfree, and also have no desire for really any part of the kid experience. But I have two close friends who co-sleep love it... Particularly while breast feeding, they both feel it is so much easier to just roll over and offer the baby the nourishment it wants, rather than having to actually get out of bed in the middle of the night, pick up the baby out of a crib, go sit in a chair to nurse, etc. Again, while its certainly not appealing to me, I certainly don't react in horror at the thought of a choice that works for them...

Tiara Lynn said...

Hi Emily,
This post was absolutely really judgemental. I wrote about it because it is something that I completely do not understand because it amplifies the 24/7-ness of parenting, which is my main opposition to doing so myself. I talk about it because I'm really intrigued that I find it so horrifying, and I'm kind of exploring my own emotions about it.

They've started this now that the baby is here and it works out great for them. I can definitely appreciate the benefits of the arrangement and I understand where the desire to do it comes from. It just seems so bizarre to me to want to be with someone, even a baby, 100% of the time.

I would never react in horror toward my friends in person, but it's an emotion I felt worth exploring here, because this is my safe place. For the first time, though, a post seems to have touched a nerve with people, and for that I'm sorry.

Kerry said...

I don't think this post was judgemental at all. I think the author expressed her honest opinion. What's wrong with that? Personally I will never understand why some people have a burning desire to have a child. I think they're crazy to want to be parents. I can say that, it's my opinion. I'm not saying that they are wrong, or that they ARE crazy. I personally think it's crazy to want to be a parent. The key words are "I think". I'm stating my opinion, not a fact.

Why is this author wrong for being horrified by the idea of co-sleeping? I'm horrified by it. I need my sleep, and my dear SO somethines tosses and turns in his sleep so much that it shakes the bed and wakes me up. When he does that he will move out to the couch because he knows I need my sleep, I really have a hard time functioning without it.

Besides, there is a danger of rolling over on the baby, and I know that even Carolyn Hax, who writes for The Washington Post, pointed that out, when she discussed how she considered co-sleeping with her babies. She was responding to a letter from a man who missed having any intimacy or alone time at all with his wife since she had decided to co-sleep and the baby was 9 months old, and there didn't appear to be an end in sight. So as long as the wife kept co-sleeping, their intimacy was non-existant, and he felt lonely.
We are all allowed to express our opinions. She expressed hers on HER BLOG. Nothing wrong with that.

M said...

When I read up on this topic after this post, I found plenty of debate about co sleeping and there are many who do *not* believe that co sleeping will not hurt anyone.

In fact, co sleeping has been blamed for many deaths and many experts believe that conditioning a child to learn to go to sleep on their own in their own bed is very important and something that will affect the child for the rest of their lives.

Parents who co sleep are also considered by some experts to not be setting strong enough boundaries.

So, this is not an uncontested practice with unanimous fans and there is no proof that it does in fact do no harm. Like many other choices, each set of parents will have to make the decision for themselves.

As for this being a contemporary practice, from what I understand, it is exactly that (in that it was not common just a generation or two ago, at least not in this country). Co sleeping may have been done in the more distant past, and may be common in other cultures (I couldn't find credible evidence one way or another about that), but in this culture, it is a current trend and not something that was all the rage decades ago, as it is now.

For example, according to the New York Times, the number of parents who share a bed with their baby was found by "a survey by the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development [to be] more than triple the number of a decade ago."

So, yes, co sleeping is a modern (as in contemporary) practice, albeit one that may be experiencing a resurgence from past popularity, but that certainly wasn't just one or two generations ago the trend it is today. And though many may advocate this method, many others are as passionate about *not* recommending it.