This is our bed.
When I say “our”, I mean mine, Yohannes’s, Nati’s and Lily’s. In fact, the crib and toddler bed are really just ornamental. No one actually sleeps in those. I usually avoid describing our sleeping situation to others because I’m afraid my spare-the-rod friends will think I’m a crazy hippy, and then my crazy hippy friends will be offended that I called them crazy hippies, and I’ll suddenly find myself all alone in the world…but here goes:
Co-sleeping was never part of my parenting plan, not that I’m really the type to have a parenting plan. Even growing up with the Maasai, where the mother and children all shared a bed, I never envisioned it for myself. I didn’t sleep with my parents as a kid, and I didn’t particularly like the idea of sharing my bed with my own kids. It just sort of happened.
Before Nati was born, I set up his crib in a separate bedroom, but put the bassinet beside our bed for when he was “little.” We used the bassinet for a while, and I would bring Nati into bed with me to nurse at night. That all changed when I accidentally fell asleep one time while he was nursing. Holy mother of 4 hours of sleep! I had not slept that long since he was born and was not about to go back, so he stayed in bed with us at night.
When he was too big for the bassinet, (not that he was using it anyway), I decided to finally move him to his own room. Maybe for someone less sleep deprived or with a little more resolve, that walk down the hallway
sixty six times a night to nurse the crying baby for between 15 minutes and 2 hours would be worth it. But I was not and am not that person, so Nati moved back into our bed.
Nati and Yohannes are not what I would call gentle sleepers. The former, because he punches and kicks in his semi-sleep delirium at 2 a. m. while yelling, “Nooooo! No pasta!” The latter, because he sleeps like a dead man. He notices none of Nati’s shenanigans and I literally have to hit him to wake him up. He’s always very offended, and once asked why I don’t just wake him up nicely. I proceeded to demonstrate the routine I go through when I wake him up: It starts with sweet whispers and gentle prodding. As those efforts produce no results, it gradually escalates until I’m yelling and punching him in the arm. If we’re being perfectly honest, I’ve more recently been skipping straight to the last part, but only because I know the rest is futile.
Needless to say, when Lily was born, she was so teeny-tiny that I couldn’t risk putting her in bed with those two. When she got a little older, though, it gradually happened the same way it had with Nati, only I was careful to keep her on my left side, with Nati and Yohannes on my right. So now the four of us share a bed.
Yohannes co-slept with his parents as a child, and likes that we all get to be together at night, but he also inexplicably wakes up on the futon about 50% of the time. I love it too. My obsessive-compulsive side loves being within touching distance of my whole little family. (It makes it so much easier to double check that they are all still breathing in the middle of the night.) But as much as I love co-sleeping, sometimes I lay awake at night fantasizing about a large queen-sized bed, neatly made with crisp, clean sheets. That bed would be mine. And no, I don’t mean mine and Yohannes’s. (I prefer not to have my crisp, clean fantasy-sheets kicked down to the foot of the bed, but thank you anyway.)
You see, this fantasy started before the kids were born. I think in my pre-marriage
delusion innocence, I romanticized sleeping with my spouse. (Get your mind out of the gutter. I actually mean sleeping.) I envisioned whispered conversations at night, and cuddling in the morning. The reality is that we don’t usually go to bed at the same time, so no whispering, and it turns out I hate cuddling. (Not all the time; just when I don’t feel like being uncomfortable). Also, snoring. I think men’s nasal pathways were constructed as part of God’s curse to women. Give me the pain of childbirth any day over snoring. (Kidding. Childbirth was brutal.)
It’s no coincidence that I am writing this post at 4:35 a.m. I woke up with exactly 12 inches of space all to myself and couldn’t get back to sleep. I love co-sleeping. I hate co-sleeping. It’s a mixed bag, I guess. Now I’m going to go back upstairs, try to squeeze myself in somewhere on the bed (most likely diagonally) and get some more sleep.