I'm only half kidding when I say that we have two savings funds set up for Jonah: college and therapy. We really felt it was important to start putting money away, just in case he doesn't get that academic scholarship. Last night was the first time that Jonah slept in his own bed by himself. He's been sleeping in that bed since he was born (in it), but until twenty-four hours ago, Ryan and I slept alongside him. We were co-sleepers.
When we decided to co-sleep, we didn't even realize that there was a term for a thing so intuitive to us we didn't know to question it, or that that thing was actually a hotly-debated, controversial topic in the parenting world. It's right up there with circumcision and breastmilk v. formula. We had a bassinet when he was born, but he was really cute and little and in the immediate months following his birth, it seemed natural to hold him near. Months turned into almost two years.
I found out that there was a name for what we did during a three a.m. nursing in one of the topic rooms on a "mommy blog." (That's what Ryan calls apps like What to Expect where strangers simultaneously bond over their child's birth month and tear each other apart for being on the wrong side of the food-stamps-used-for-steak issue.)
I really loathe debating controversial issues, especially online. I have yet to meet the person who has been swayed by an impassioned rando on the Internet. Mostly though, these kinds of arguments tend to swell around the poles, both sides characterized by emotional appeals to fear that I don’t relate to. On the granola side of the coin, placing your baby in a crib causes deep-seated abandonment issues, resulting in a child who grows up either a sex addict or Republican. On the other, WHAT ARE YOU FUCKING CRAZY YOU WILL ROLL OVER YOUR BABY'S HEAD! SIDS!
For the last nearly twenty-two months, the three of us have shared what Asian cultures apparently describe as a family bed, which sounds emotionally scarring. In actuality it is sweet, nurturing and most of all, practical. But I had had enough.
Actually, our couples therapist had had enough.
She urged Ryan and me to make the break. It’s time, she said. Do not let it go another night.
When nine o'clock rolled around, I got Jonah ready for bed by telling him that now that he’s old enough, he gets to have slumber parties with his animals all by himself. Whenever he needs us, we’ll be right in the other room. I asked him if he was excited. He squealed an exuberant, “Yes!”
We picked out his lucky companions, a robotic talking puppy that I hate so I removed its ability to utter anything ever, and a monkey Jonah stole from the car of one of my besties. We climbed into his bed. I started with a couple of books, and then I launched into daydreaming, and nothing. Motherscratcher was onto me. It took over an hour to get him to sleep.
In all of the time that we’ve slept next to him, I never worried about his safety. When you co-sleep, you are acutely aware of the presence of your child’s breath and his tiny body. We didn’t consider him in danger of suffocation or being crushed. Unintentionally, we also became light sleepers, which is why I’ve been longing for the day when I could count on a full eight-hour rest.
Until I got into bed last night. The distance between our rooms felt enormous. What if he woke up scared? What if he broke his head? I checked on him throughout the night five separate times, making sure his neck was intact and I could hear his breath.
He woke this morning calling for me, refreshed and bright. Meanwhile, I slept two hours. TWO. I didn’t realize that the co-sleeping was actually for me.