To sleep or not cosleep

We had our 10 month development check this week. Being the first baby I wasn’t really sure what to expect: we received the questionnaire through and the cover letter said we should complete it in advance as practice… What was about to happen? I envisaged a sort of BBC3-esque tryout where health visitors across the land were trying to find Britain’s Best Baby. One who displayed not only the ability to pick up and release a toy but could also make all of the vowel sounds. Even my husband was quite excited and kept making suggestions on how to best highlight “what the baby could do”. Unfortunately when the day eventually arrived it was a fairly bland conversation and there wasn’t a baby dumbbell in sight. The only thing of note was when she asked if we’d ever had concerns if the baby couldn’t see or hear properly… WTF? Oh yes, now you mention it I’m fairly sure he is blind in one eye and has a raging case of tinnitus but I hadn’t got round to mentioning it. For goodness sake.

Anyway she was bored, I was bored, the baby was doing an impressively choreographed display of gross motor which was going largely unnoticed until she asked about sleeping. Now sleeping is his and my kryptonite. There was a glorious period last summer where he would go down at 9pm and you wouldn’t hear a peep from him until 4am. But then we hit the four/six/eight month sleep regression (a technical term for discovering the ability to terrorise one’s parents in the small hours) and it quite literally went tits. The low point was when he would wake up every 20 minutes clamouring for milk. Short of an exorcism we were stumped. He was well-fed, he had a routine, the kid never sits still so he should be exhausted, but there I was singing Twinkle Twinkle like I was in a cult, sleeping on the floor of his nursery to save time and looking more and more like a drag queen who’s fallen on rough times.

So preamble over we brought him into our bed and became one of the many accidental cosleepers. Sandwiched in the middle (it’s fine, he sleeps on top of the duvet and can very much hold his own) of two very loving but absolutely exhausted parents our little boy immediately started sleeping for three or four hour blocks. Within a month he was up to five or six and if he wakes up he just wriggles around, normally clonks one of us on the head, and goes back to sleep. One night feed and countless morning smiles.

I know however that as I relay this story, the health visitor is having dalek-themed heart palpitations: hippy-nutter-has-ten-month-old-in-parents-bed-must-intervene-and-make-her-feel-like-moron.  

Right…”. It always starts with “right” and then comes the jugular shot… “you’ll want to address that before it becomes an issue”. Clearly this woman isn’t listening, I’ve not slept for more than an hour at a time for six months until now. I very much do not want to address it. I also if I’m totally honest don’t see why I should. It clearly works for us; I’m not asking for advice so leave me alone. 

She then tells me about a technique where I sit on a cushion (apparently the cushion is integral to success…?!) and slowly retreat over a series of nights…while I’m retreating my infant son will be learning to sooth himself and will go back to sleep. He certainly won’t be stood at the bars of his cot screaming like the lead singer of Slipknot…they used to advise pick-up-put-down but dont anymore because they think it upsets baby more.  What does? Being comforted and then having the comfort taken away. Oh. I’ll take hippy-nutter if it means I think it’s OK to think a kid needing comfort should get some.

And that was the end of the conversation, I said I would think about it and she left being able to tick her horrible little box. I obviously would like my bed back at some stage but it’ll be when everyone is ready for it. Until then we continue as we are, snuggled up and snoring.


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