Education, Family

Why We Bed-Share – And How To Do It Safely

image

As an early childhood professional, I was always taught that the only correct way for an infant to sleep is on his or her back, and in his or her crib, with only a fitted sheet. If a blanket is used, it should be made of a light material, tucked in, and come up no father than the child’s chest/nipples. And certainly no toys, pillows, bumpers, or any other item that could potentially hinder an infant’s ability to breathe should be in the crib.

From a professional and/or liability standpoint, I stand by what I was taught. We were flooded with so many stories of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS) and of children who were suffocated to death because of improper sleeping conditions while with a caretaker. I cannot imagine ever doing anything – intentionally or unintentionally – to harm someone’s child. Not only would the legal ramifications be serious, but the pain, guilt, and sadness of knowing that a child I love and am trusted with was hurt because of my decision-making would be overwhelming.

In my new role as a mother, however, I have found (to my surprise!) that bed-sharing works for our family.

From the night he was born, our son refused to sleep in his bassinet. When the nurses brought him into my recovery room to sleep, they swaddled him and placed him in the bassinet next to us. He screamed. And screamed. And screamed. My husband and I tried everything to keep him happy in that little see-through box, but he wasn’t having it.

He was instantly comforted by being taken out and cuddled. So, for the remainder of our time in the hospital, I allowed him to sleep on my chest and I slept at a semi-upright angle in the hospital bed. This same pattern continued at home. Although we tried placing him in a much more comfortable bassinet that we had previously set up next to our bed, our baby would not sleep there.

It scared me to allow our baby to sleep in my bed. On top of the fear, I felt like a hypocrite, since I have always been an advocate of the “back to sleep” in a crib method. But when in his bassinet, our baby woke up crying every ten minutes. And not only were my husband and I not getting any sleep, but I had to keep getting up (aggravating my C-section incision) to comfort or feed our boy. When I ended up with a blood clot in my lung two weeks after our son’s birth, not only was it painful getting up at night because of my C-section, but now I also had chest pain to deal with. This was not working.

I began to clear a space in our (king-sized) bed for baby to sleep next to me. A bed-sharing advocate friend of mine reminded me that, for thousands of years of human history, mothers have shared sleeping spaces with their children. My mother reminded me that I slept in bed with her until I was 5!

At first baby slept on my chest, and as he got bigger he slept on the mattress next to me with my arm wrapped around him. Now, I barely wrap my arm around him anymore, but he stays close to me and his head is always turned toward me. We often sleep face to face, unless I am feeding him. No matter how deeply asleep I think I am, I always notice and wake up for any of my son’s overnight needs.

I later learned that the scent of my breast milk acts as a something of a “homing beacon” for baby. It keeps him close to me so that he will not toss, turn, or roll into pillows and blankets.

I also learned that baby’s breathing can be regulated by being so close to me, and that he can sync his breathing to mine, in a way.

I learned that there are social, emotional, and mental health benefits for babies who share sleeping spaces with their parents – both immediate and long term.

I learned that (although I am already a light sleeper), mothers who sleep with their babies naturally sleep lighter in order to pick up on any breathing changes, sounds, or movements that their babies might make.

Despite God’s way of designing mother-baby sleep to be such that mothers and babies are in tune with one another overnight, I have also taken extra precautions to make sure baby is safe in bed. These include:

-Never taking any medication that alters my natural sleeping patterns or makes me sleepy (for example, Nyquil or Benadryl).

-Not bringing my covers up past my hips.

-Baby sleeps on his back (or on his side, if he is eating) facing me, when on the mattress.

-Keeping his space clear of pillows and blankets.

-I try not to put baby between my husband and I. When he is between us, I make sure my husband knows it and I extend my arm and legs as a barrier. If hubby rolls over, he will roll onto me first.

-I wake up naturally at intervals to check on our son. I don’t do this on purpose, but it just happens. I open my eyes, check him, go back to sleep.

-We have a nightlight and we keep our blinds open so that the extra light allows us to see our son easily in the middle of the night.

Unless baby is particularly fussy, I get much better sleep each night and baby does too! He generally goes to bed between 830pm and 930pm and wakes up between 7 and 8 each morning. I have come to really enjoy our nights together, as my husband and I generally watch a movie or funny show in bed while baby goes to sleep.

I know he can’t sleep in our bed forever, but for now it’s really nice. Anyone else out there have any bedsharing experiences?

Advertisements
Family

Chocobo’s Fourth Month!

image

Each month, our son’s personality shines through more and more! He has distinct likes and dislikes these days and is laughing and smiling more often!

During tummy time, he’s been able to turn himself around nearly 180 degrees. He will roll over if he is on a soft surface – like a bed or couch (don’t worry, we watch him closely!)- but he will not usually roll over if he is on a flat surface – like a floor mat or inside of his playpen. We have noticed him trying to sit upright from laying flat on his back, and he can bring himself up about 145 degrees before laying back down again!

He has favorite toys – namely a talking book, a horse that makes a lot of noise, and a giraffe that jingles. He also has favorite songs that bring a smile to his face whenever we sing them! He enjoys being outside and takes some of the best naps on our daily walks!

He hates being left alone. If I have to put him down to do dishes or laundry, I have about 15 minutes before he starts crying. Sometimes I have to let him cry for a few minutes, but I generally do my work in 15 and 20 minute bursts and then play with him until he naps.

Speaking of naps, he takes about four naps each day. At night he is clingy and won’t sleep alone, but during the day I can generally put him down and he will sleep without me. Still, his naps are always longer when I am there. Whenever I can, I try to nap with him.

He’s a lot of fun and we are so grateful that God has allowed us to be his mama and daddy! We are having a lot of fun getting to know him!

Christianity, Family, Religion

Finding A Spiritual Home

screenshot_2016-04-02-18-35-10-12.jpg.jpg

I mentioned in another post that my husband and I have finally found a place of worship that we feel comfortable calling home. We’re pretty excited about having found this unique little gathering of believers and I wanted to share some of the journey that brought us here.

After getting married in 2008, we both felt that we wanted to be more disciplined in attending some sort of worship service regularly. At first we were attending a church where the people were great, but the church itself was entirely too big and we felt that the leadership was always trying to “sell” us something – books, CDs, videos, etc. We wanted something that felt more genuine and so we kept searching. We’d tried a few different places, but became more and more disillusioned and disconnected with each new place. For me, a huge part of the problem was that I kept feeling as though I was “going” to church, and not “being” the church. Outside of the Sunday praise, worship, and sermon ritual – there was nothing authentic throughout the rest of the week to help connect and sustain us spiritually.

Another issue for me was the fact that most churches we visited felt more like Christian self-help groups. All of the messages were centered on a specific topic, for instance – how to build good relationships in the workplace – and Bible verses that supported the pastor’s view of that topic were discussed. Although it is important to gain wisdom about different aspects of life, I wanted to be a part of a church where the Bible was read, taught, and discussed as it is – not manipulated and taken out of context in order to fit a particular pastor’s views.

When my husband and I found out we would be moving to another part of the U.S, one of the things that really excited us was the idea that we might be able to find something out here that we had not found in our 6 year search of our home state. I didn’t want to feel like I was “shopping” for a church, but at the same time I knew that there were certain things we needed in a spiritual home. We created a short list of things that we felt were important for us in a church.

We wanted to be in a place where we could truly learn the Bible, in all of its confusing, seemingly contradictory, messy glory. I quickly lose interest in places where all the hard verses are ignored and all the pleasant verses are cherry picked to prove a point. I enjoy that the place we’ve been visiting spends time studying and dissecting entire blocks of scripture. This makes it harder to take a particular reading out of context. Instead of using scripture to support whatever topic is on the speaker’s mind, the topics arise from these blocks of scripture being studied.

We wanted to be in a place small enough for there to be genuine community, but big enough for us to find ways to get involved. I don’t know about anyone else, but for us, going to church is always just a Sunday thing. We go on Sunday and the rest of the week we’re on our own! To that end, we needed to find a place that embraced the idea that we (believers in Christ) are an organic, living church – and that being the church doesn’t end on Sunday afternoon when service lets out. So far, I have met people at this place who have immediately gotten involved in our lives. And they didn’t get involved in that creepy, cultish sort of way. They are just intentional about not leaving us out as they live their lives and develop on their own spiritual journeys. More importantly, my husband and I have been able to seamlessly get involved as if we had been there all along.

We wanted to be in a place that does not discourage ritual and/or the historical traditions of the church, but is not dogmatic about it either. I really love how the Catholic and Orthodox churches allow for perpetual spirituality because their sense of community and their traditions are built into the way they live. Although we highly respect those groups (and sometimes borrow from some of their practices!), we have not felt led to join any particular denomination. At the same time, I have grown weary of those who teach that ritual is inherently wrong or idolatrous. I like that this place we’ve been visiting recognizes the beauty of the historical church traditions and rhythms of life, without forcing those traditions on anyone.

We wanted to be in a place that is diverse in many ways. We wanted a place that has a mixture of ethnicity, age, physical/mental ability, and socioeconomic status. For the most part, we’ve found that here. What is lacking in racial diversity is made up for in the diversity of age, ability, and tax bracket. And that’s not to say that there is no racial diversity – just not a whole lot.

I guess the biggest factor in our decision to join with this particular group of believers is that we have felt God’s gentle nudge in this direction. It may not be where He has us forever, but we definitely think that this is where we are supposed to be for now.

We’re excited to see where this path leads!

What about you? How did you find your spiritual home?