Our 1-year-old has never been a great sleeper. The night she was born, she wouldn't sleep in her bassinet and would rest only while I held her on my chest. I had just given birth, was exhausted, so I called the nurse. I let her know my new baby was restlessly banging her little legs and crying every time I put her down. The nurse looked at me, and in a knowing tone said, "oh, you have one of those babies."
Yes. I do have one of "those" babies. Good-natured, fun-loving, and hysterical by day, by night Alex is a tossing-and-turning, wakes-up-every few hours kind of kid who stands in her crib, cries, and waits for me to bring her to sleep in what has become the semi-"family bed." We didn't plan this but exhaustion led us down this path of "just a few nights and she'll be back in her crib" then "when she can sleep on her belly it'll get better" to "she'll outgrow it." My latest wish is that when she goes into her new room, somehow the stars will align differently and cause her to sleep all night, without waking up to cuddle.
It's not that we mind. It's actually sweet that someone loves me enough to want to cuddle up to me all night long. It's that the stigma attached to co-sleeping (or semi-co-sleeping in our case) is intense. I've been given advice from "she needs to cry-it-out" to "when she vomits from crying, let her lie in it. She'll learn." Uh, no. My theory is this - our babies spend every waking moment with an adult who loves them, cares for them and essentially offers the security that makes them good-natured as they are. What makes us think that for 12-hours while it's dark, the same child needs no nurturing, no feeling of security from us? And the Cry-It-Out method, while it works for some, just doesn't sit right with me. The thought of that little face crying hysterically, alone in her crib until she ultimately gives up, just doesn't correspond with my parenting system. I don't condemn those who do it, it's just not for me.
I've read the books. Dr. Sears condones attachment parenting and advises that parents respond to their children on demand. Dr. Ferber's signature controlled-crying method involves leaving a baby alone in the crib to cry for progressively longer intervals until he or she falls asleep. Elizabeth Pantley wrote the No-Cry Sleep Solution, which advises gradual bedtime routines as a middle ground a middle ground between the Sears and Ferber. I even consulted the Baby Whisperer, but all I took away from that was a fool-proof way to ensure I don't get poo'ed on while changing a diaper.
So where does that leave us? While I have friends who have successfully done Cry-It-Out, I have another secret. Many of your friends, colleagues and acquaintances are also letting their kids sleep with them!! But guess what? They don't admit it for fear of how society will judge them. Freaks with no sex lives. Parents who let their kids run the show. I say - WHO CARES! Let them judge, since after all, they don't know YOUR baby and the needs of your family.
Granted, our current arrangement, should Alex decide she still doesn't want to spend the whole night in her crib, may hit a snag when the new baby arrives. I stressed about this for weeks upon learning I was pregnant. But I've since adopted a new attitude - whatever happens we will figure it out.
But names will never hurt me.