I have a confession. Our baby still sleeps in our bed.
A few months ago we were traveling to Lusaka and stopped over at a guesthouse to catch a few winks before continuing on with our journey. Anna, the sweet Zambian lady who owns the place along with her American husband asked me which room we had been assigned. I told her ‘four’ and she said, “oh why don’t you just move into ‘six,’ it has two beds because I know American’s don’t like to sleep with their babies. I giggled and said, “No its ok, we sleep with her. We like it that way.” The lady almost hugged me – “Oh thank you, thank you!” she said, grasping my arm in solid affirmation, as if I were doing her a favor. (We‘ve actually been friends with Anna ever since she bailed Jeremy out of prison that one time – but that’s another story for another blog post. If you are ever driving through Serenje though and need a meal or a place to stay, let me know and I’ll give you her number.)
We never intended to be long term co-sleepers. We have this super-duper thingy called a pea pod. It pops up and zips closed and has good ventilation without mosquito entry. After our shower, we were almost more excited about getting to use the pea pod than we were bringing home the new baby. But… Ask me how many minutes she has slept in it so far – I think 27. Between her every-five-seconds nursing and absolute need to feel another’s body heat, sleeping alone has been a non-option for this child, bless her heart. Unfortunately it took me quite a while to stop stressing about this “situation” and realize that we are just fine, not a parenting debacle, and that our family could actually thrive in a bed-sharing environment.
|I love it mom - but I don't think we can both fit in here, so don't expect a nap out of me|
I’ve googled co-sleeping and bed-sharing, and holy-mother-opinionated-fire there are some VERY strong feelings on this subject. Everything from “if your baby sleeps with your bed you are going to kill her, and kill your marriage, and you are a bad person,” to, “if your baby doesn’t sleep in your bed or at least close to it, you are cruel and unusual and heartless and therefore a bad person.”
I’ve talked with my Zambian lady friends a lot about this and in case you want to know, (hold your fire, please, my dear disagreeing friends) they totally side with the bed-sharing mothers of the world. Anna at the guesthouse was so relieved that we slept with our baby because she, just like the plethora of Fimpulu-folk I’ve polled, absolutely concurs that a child should never sleep alone. To stick a baby in a crib is borderline child abuse. Babies belong right next to the mother until they are at least weaned, preferably potty trained and then they should be moved into a bed with another child. We’ve already had people offer to send their children to our house at night to sleep with Bronwyn when its time for her to move out of our bed. With respect to safety, I’ve never heard of a single SIDS case here. Never even heard it mentioned. I have a feeling this would would make a phenominal research project for an ethno-pediatrics PHD candidate.
Oh and, What about romantic time with your husband? I sure did ask. And they all looked at me like I was an idiot and said something to the effect of “What kind of freaky sex do you people have? Just don’t make so much noise.” There you have it. The co-sleeping debate can be over now.
For us, the logistics of keeping Bronwyn with us havd been more important than anything. With no temperature control, having her in our bed means I can check to see if she is cold or sweating without going out from under the safety of our mosquito net. I nurse her frequently during the night but if you were to ask me how many times, I’d have to say, I don’t know – BECAUSE I WAKE UP AND GO BACK TO SLEEP 30 SECONDS LATER – and for that priceless gift, sweet pea can sleep with us till she’s 30 if she wants to. As long as I get my zzz’s.
Are you a bed sharing family? Has it worked well for you? Your friends in Zambia are giving you a long-distance high five!