When I was pregnant on the Snot Queen, I had very definite ideas on how my baby would be raised.
Co Sleeping did not figure highly in these plans.
In fact, it didn't figure at all. As far as I was concerned, our baby would be sleeping in a cot, in its own room, from day one. I had read Gina Ford, well, skimmed actually... okay, I read the introduction where I was promised a perfectly timed eating, sleeping, pooping, contented little baby and then threw it aside to be dealt with later when I got to the boring bits, i.e the rest of the book.
At the time, it made sense to me. Babies were brand new people unaccustomed to the ways and means of our world. It was our job as parents to train them in these ways. They needed cots and nurseries, black out blinds and white noise machines. Above all else though, they needed ROUTINE.
Yes, that great, oft repeated word from every baby book ever written and whispered into the sweet shell like ears of new mothers all over the western world. Routine, like Jesus and low fat cheese spread, would save us all.
What I hadn't planned on was a week's stay in hospital after the baby was born. A week where night after night, my new little citizen would scream the ward down if I so much as pointed her in the direction of her plastic bassinet. It was on or around the fourth night into our stay that one of the midwives suggested I take her into the bed with me.
A week earlier, I'd have looked at her like she was insane and reported her for negligence. Good Lord! I had enough trouble with the concept of the baby in our room, let alone in our bed!
It's amazing what a little sleep deprivation will do to those hard set ideals.
It was the best. Night's. Sleep. Ever.
For the rest of my stay, myself and the tiny being who would eventually become known as the snot queen, slept cocooned together in my fuzzy red housecoat. Day and night, her warm little body would lie curled against me, rising and falling with every breath.
Once home, she spent a few nights in a Moses basket next to our bed. She hated the basket though and as it was I would invariably doze off during the night feed and wake up with her still in my arms.
We tried a cot with the same result, thinking maybe it was space she craved. It wasn't though, it was us.
By the end of month two, "Our Bed" officially became "The Family Bed" and I became extremely well read on the subject of co sleeping and its many benefits.
I learned about how, with proper safety precautions taken, co sleeping was a great guard against cot death. Babies who cosleep spend less time in what is known as "Level III" sleep, a deep sleep stage where apneas are most likely to occur. As well, during sleep sharing, the infant's breathing and heart rate line up with the mother's and should the baby have an incidence of apnea, the breathing of the parents would stimulate the baby to take the next breath.
Also, babies who co slept, were found to have far lower levels of cortisol, a stress related hormone.
I experienced for myself how much easier it made breastfeeding and would often wake to find she had latched on and fed whilst I was asleep.
Deborah Jackson, my favourite parenting author of all time, wrote a brilliant book on the subject called "Three in a bed" which I can't recommend highly enough.
When I found out I was pregnant on number two, friends and family who were "concerned" about our sleeping arrangements started making helpful suggestions about how the Snot Queen would have to be moved into a bed of her own and how the new baby should really learn to sleep in a cot.
We nodded and smiled and listened politely to everything they said.
In the end, we got a bigger bed.